Tributes to nurse from Northamptonshire who treated English soldiers during wartime...and delivered 1,700 babies during career

Mrs Bickerdike, left, pictured with Betty Bland (centre) on the  occasion of their retirement in 1977.
Mrs Bickerdike, left, pictured with Betty Bland (centre) on the occasion of their retirement in 1977.

Tributes have been paid to a midwife from Northamptonshire who delivered more than 1,700 babies.

German-born Ilse Bickerdike, from Earls Barton, died aged 92 earlier this month.

She had a lot of determination and a lot of guts but she was also very caring.

Ann Neilde, Nurse Bickerdike’s daughter

She came to England in 1949 having previously nursed English, Italian, Russian and German soldiers during the Second World War at army hospitals in the former Czechoslokavia and Austria.

She trained and worked at Hull and Leeds, before moving to Northampton in 1968. She stayed there for two years before moving to Wellingborough.

While in Leeds, the local newspaper ran a report of her opening a club for young mothers and were struck by her stature and quirks.

It reported: “She is well-known to hundreds in the neighbourhood for she has no car, rarely uses a bus and covers her round on foot.”

It went on: “She is an arresting figure, 6ft tall, dark hair, blue eyes, full of the zest of youth and has a perfect command of English.”

She was in the headlines again at the end of her career in 1977, when she finished up as a midwife serving the Wellingborough area, racking up 1,704 births.

Her daughter, Anne Neilde, said: “She didn’t talk about her career much, but when I found those articles, I was very proud of her.

“To think she had just left her own country and came here when I should think there was a lot of anti-German feeling and walk quite a dangerous round on foot.

“She had a lot of determination and a lot of guts but she was also very caring.”

Her funeral service will be held at Kettering Crematorium on Thursday, March 26.