Norman Bicknell entered the Training Garrison in January 1926 from Newton Corps, Auckland. On 11 December 1928 he married Katherine Saunders and several corps appointments later they were appointed to Christchurch City Corps.
On the morning of 31 December 1939 Norman received a call from Wellington requesting he sail overseas with the 1st echelon which left Lyttleton on 5 January 1940. He accepted and Chaplain-Captain Norman Bicknell arrived in Egypt 13 February and was appointed to second NZEF attached to the forth Field Ambulance regiment.
Padre Bicknell served five campaigns and records some exciting stories of the undoubted providence of God during his time overseas.
Meetings were held in holes dug in the sand of the desert, on hillsides under fire from the enemy, in tents and huts and hospitals. He also found a worthwhile ministry in visiting the wounded.
Every night he would make the round of the tents in which they were lying and read a verse of scripture and offer a prayer. This was greatly looked forward to by the men, and if he happened to miss one tent, he heard all about it in the morning.
The mobile surgical units he worked in were placed as close to the front line as possible. He and his unit were held prisoner for eight days at one stage, but managed to escape unharmed.
Norman was transferred to the Twenty fourth Auckland Battalion and served in Syria, returning with them to the Western Desert. There he was caught in a counter attack and wounded, finding himself hospitalised for a length of time. Following his discharge he sailed home to New Zealand, arriving in Wellington to a grand welcome 10 March 1943.
Norman Bicknell was a well regarded officer both within military circles and the Salvation Army. He continued to be connected with the Military Chaplaincy, rising to Chaplain Commandant of the NZ Chaplains Department in 1961 until he was transferred to the retired list in 1965.