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Thread: 75 years ago today, 24th June 1944 John Bicknell DFC married my Mother, Dorothy Moram

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    Default 75 years ago today, 24th June 1944 John Bicknell DFC married my Mother, Dorothy Moram

    75 years ago, on 24th June 1944, eighteen days after D-Day, my mother, Dorothy Moram, married a brave and courageous airman, a 21 year old Bristolian, P/O John Bicknell, who had only recently been to Buckingham Palace with his mother, Mrs Margaret Bicknell, to receive his DFC from King George VI.

    This award for gallantry was recognition for his search and rescue OPs out in the North Sea, with 226 Squadron, and for his involvement in the Raid on Dieppe. Navigating his Boston Mark III at wave top height on the early morning of 19th August 1942 laying a smoke screen up and down the cliffs of Dieppe, both as the Allied forces attempted landings and returning in the afternoon to lay a further smoke screen for their evacuation in the abortive raid of 19th August 1942.

    Again with 226 Squadron, he flew out of Swanton Morley in another Boston III on December 6th 1942, in the first great daylight against the Phillips valve and radio factory Eindhoven in Holland. I don’t have John Bicknell’s log book so I have pieced together their story from family reminiscences, Martin Bowman's excellent 'Night Intruders', and the 21 Squadron ORB (Operations Record Book).

    I gleaned enough from my mother, Dorothy Surridge, and her sister, Carol Miller, while they were alive to know that wartime airman, John Bicknell, was a man of great bravery and courage, and that for him to be chosen to fly with 21 Squadron at RAF Hunsdon, with the new Mosquito Mark VI, meant he had been singled out as a talented airman, to serve with other elite aircrews in one of the RAF’s signature 2TAF Fighter Bomber Squadrons.

    Sometime in January 1944, as 22 year old John Bicknell travelled to his new squadron in Hertfordshire he met my mother on a train, as she travelled from London to her home in Standon. The attraction was imminent and my mother was smitten. Their brief courtship and whirlwind romance saw them married on Saturday 24th June, 1944, in St Mary’s Church, Standon.

    The newly weds probably had just 72 hours together before John Bicknell returned to his Squadron, now based at Thorney Island in Hampshire. The best man was fellow air crew, Pilot Officer Bill Adams, also in 21 Squadron, later the same day as the wedding, returned to Thorney Island, taking off at 23.50 for a night Op attacking V1 ‘flying bomb’ sites in Northern France.

    21 Squadron carried out many notable low-level bombing operations, including ‘Operation Jericho’ (the raid on Amiens Prison). Now in June 1944, out of Thorney Island in Hampshire, 21 Squadron was assigned ‘No Ball’ targets - the Buzz Bomb and V1 rocket launching sites as their major task. The Wing had started rocket base attacks from Sculthorpe only weeks previously, when they were personally led by the Group’s Commander, Air Vice Marshall Embry, and their own Commander, Charles Pickard, as his crew. What a buzz young John Bicknell must have got from flying alongside the legendary 'Pick.'

    Dorothy Moram had married an elite airman, returned to her her life as a commuter and bank teller at Barclays Bank in Dalston, anxious that her new dare devil husband was flying night ops, at wave top height to get underneath the radar, into Nazi Occupied Northern France, attacking V1 and V2 rocket and flying bomb construction sites, and the French railways system just ahead of the advancing Allied ground forces.

    John Bicknell was born in 1921 in London and educated at King Edwards School, Witney, Surrey. Commissioned from the ranks in 1942., P/O John Conway Bicknell, No.226 Squadron, awarded DFC 20 April 1943 by King George V1 at Buckingham Palace. The following from Air Ministry Bulletin:

    "Pilot Officer Bicknell is a cool, calculating navigator. He has taken part in a large number of sorties, including five sea searches, and has participated in several other operations. His work has been worthy of high praise”.

    Little did Dorothy Moram know she as she walked away form the church that she would be bride for just 16 days.

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    James Castle (25th June 2019)

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    Hi Mark,

    Lovely story of a brave airman, there must be many more similar stories.

    Here is one from a crew I’ve been researching for many years. Gordon R Harrison R/76374 RCAF who married his bride on the 27/2/43 and sailed for the UK on 8/3/43. To be posted to 158 Sqn and was killed on his third operation on 23/24 August 1943 and is still listed as missing.

    Regards,

    John.

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    Hello

    There are plenty of such sad stories : In my area, near Cambrai, S/L James Fielden LAMBERT was killed in action on 20th December 1943. 17 days after his wedding...

    Joss

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    We can only imagine such sadness, many widows received their husbands medal entitlements a few years later by which time they had remarried, each medal box in itself worthy of deep respect.

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    Dear Mark
    Both your parents must be very proud of you, as you are of them.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Best wishes
    James

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