b. 15/03/1910 Hampstead, London. d. 20/12/1961 London.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 17/04/1941 London.
Ernest “Mick” Oliver Gidden (1910-1961) was born on 15th March 1910 in Hampstead, London, the son of Herbert Oliver and Henrietta Violette Howe Gidden (nee Edwards). He attended University College School in Hampstead, and joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve as a Temporary Sub-Lieutenant in 1940. He served in HMS Collingwood (Gosport) and HMS President (London), both shore establishments, and became an expert in bomb and mine disposal. In 1940, he married Mary Daniels, who came from Neath, South Wales, and they had a son.
In the late summer of 1940, Mick was involved in the defusing of a mine which had fallen between two houses in Harlesden, London. On the 14th January 1941, the London Gazette announced that he had been awarded the George Medal for his actions at Harlesden. This was just the first of many incidents of gallantry in Mick’s bomb disposal career.
On 17th April 1941, at Hungerford Bridge, London, he found that a mine lay across a live electric wire, with the bomb fuse primer release mechanism facing downwards. He had to turn the bomb over before he could remove the fuse. The metal casing of the bomb had melted due to the heat and in order to fit the gag to prevent detonation he first had to remove the casing with a hammer and chisel, a process which took 6 hours. All the time the sleepers along the track were burning, so they were not only hot but making loud noises, so that it was much harder to listen for the ticking of the clock. He then moved the bomb away in a wheelbarrow.
For his actions at Hungerford Bridge, he was awarded the George Cross on 5th June 1942, and was invested with his medal by King George VI at Buckingham Palace on 14th July 1942. In September 1943, he was awarded the OBE for “great bravery and steadfast devotion to duty” as Acting Lieutenant Commander.
Gidden returned to civilian life at the war's end, working for the family firm Giddens based in Mayfair. Mick died suddenly on 20th December 1961, aged just 51 in London, and he was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium. His ashes were scattered at Plot 4F. His parents were buried in St John’s Church, Hampstead, and Mick’s name was added to their headstone. Mick’s medals including his GC, OBE, GM, Defence Medal 1939-45, War Medal 1939-45 and 1953 QEII Coronation Medal are proudly held by the Gidden family. They were shown on the Antiques Roadshow episode at Sherborne School on 2nd February 2003.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: HELD BY RECIPIENT'S FAMILY.
BURIAL PLACE: GOLDERS GREEN CREMATORIUM, LONDON.
Gidden's name on the family grave in St John at Hampstead Churchyard, Hampstead, London.
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier