Lot Archive


№ 536


27 September 1994

Hammer Price:

A Great War D.S.O. group of four awarded to the pioneer aviator Lieutenant Colonel A.D. Carden, Royal Engineers and Royal Flying Corps, one of the crew of the first Military airship when it flew in 1908

DISTINGUISHED SERVICE ORDER, G.V.R., fitted with incorrect top suspension; 1914 MONS STAR (Major, R.E. Attd. R.F.C.); BRITISH WAR AND VICTORY MEDALS, M.I.D. (Lt. Col.) very fine (4)

D.S.O., London Gazette, 1 January 1918.

Major (Temporary Lieut.-Colonel), Royal Engineers and Royal Flying Corps. The following obituary appeared in the Royal Engineers Journal in 1964: Alan Douglas Garden died in Chippenham Hospital on 12 April 1964 in his ninetieth year. He was the fifth son of Major-General George Carden of the 5th (Northumberland) Fusiliers.

He was commissioned into the Corps on 12 December 1894. After completing his junior officer courses at Chatham he spent several years in submarine mining and electric light duties, serving with 34 Submarine and Mining Company R.E. at Gravesend (1897-1900), then at the School of Military Engineering, Chatham, as an Assistant Instructor in Electricity (1900-1905) and finally in command of the West India Submarine Mining Company R.E. at Jamaica. In 1906 when submarine mining duties were handed over to the Royal Navy, Garden joined the 44th Fortress Company R.E., also stationed at Jamaica, as officer-in-charge of defence electric lights.

On returning from the West Indies in 1907 Garden became associated with military flying. His first appointment was Assistant Superintendent at the Balloon Factory, South Farnborough (now the Royal Aircraft Establishment). He was one of the 'crew' of the ‘Nulli Secundus’, the first military airship, when it flew in its remodelled form in 1908. He was from 1910-13 also closely connected with the development of powered aircraft becoming one of a private syndicate of three, including Colonel J.E. Capper and the Marquis of Tullibardine, which endeavoured to develop for military purposes a monoplane designed initially by Lieutenant J.W. Dunne of the Wiltshire Regiment who had been invalided from the Army after the South African War. This officer had also developed gliders which showed a remarkable degree of inherent stability in flight. Lack of funds available to the syndicate prevented their final development of the Dunne aircraft. Garden, however, gained his pilot's certificate by flying this type of machine. The French manufacturing rights of the aircraft were eventually acquired by the Astra Company and the British rights were bought by Armstrong Whitworrh and, although neither firm actually pursued the development of the Dunne aircraft at the time, some of the ideas incorporated in its original design have been re-used in the tail-less type of aircraft with swept-back wings being developed today. When the Air Battalion R.E. was formed in 1911 Garden was given the appointment of Experimental Officer. With the formation of the Royal Flying Corps on 13 May 1912, the Air Battalion R.E. was disbanded, many of its personnel being absorbed into the newly-formed Corps. Carden, while still remaining a Sapper officer, stayed on at Farnborough and in August of that year he was made a Squadron-Leader R.F.C. with the temporary Army rank of Major. He remained with the Royal Flying Corps (renamed Royal Air Force in 1918) throughout the First World War, rising to the rank of Wing Commander/Lieut-Colonel, and for his services he was awarded the D.S.O.

In July 1919 he returned to Royal Engineer duties as E and M officer to the Chief Engineer Western Command at Chester. In January 1921 he was posted to the Central Engineering Board at the War Office and he became a Member of the R.E. Board. On promotion to substantive Lieut-Colonel in 1921 he was given command of the 1st A.A. Searchlight Battalion R.E., then stationed at Blackdown. He held that appointment for three years after which he returned as a Colonel to the R.E. Board at the War Office. He retired in August 1930. Sold with extensive research including extracts from 'Early Aviation at Farnborough' by P.B. Walker, describing his involvement in the development of powered flight prior to the Great War.