Ernest Oliver Gidden (1910 – 1961)
Flower Festival 2012:
Arranged by Sari Hutton in memory of Gerald Dennis
Lieutenant Ernest Oliver Gidden, Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, winner of The George Cross and George Medal
Born in Hampstead in 1910, Ernest Gidden enrolled with the Royal Navy for WW2 and was trained in bomb and mine disposal. In summer 1940 he won the George Medal for defusing a mine between houses in Harlesden.
On 17 April 1941 a mine fell on Hungerford Bridge just outside Charing Cross Station. It did not explode but due to electrical short circuiting nearby trains, buildings and carriages were set alight and the mine welded itself onto the rails. It was upside down! Power was cut off, the station and nearby buildings, including the war office, were evacuated.
Ernest Gidden worked alone. First he had to turn the mine over to reveal the fuse release mechanism which included a clockwork detonator, sensitive to movement. Once turned however he found the mine casing damaged and he was unable to access the fuse to gag it since it was covered in molten metal. It took six hours sometimes with hammer and chisle to reach the mechanism and finally to make the mine safe.
He was awarded The George Cross – the equivalent of The Victoria Cross ( which is reserved exclusively for gallantry in face of the enemy ). His citation reads:
“The King has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the George Cross for great gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty to Lieutenant Ernest Oliver Gidden GM RNVR”
This page was last updated on July 18th, 2012.