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Frederick Colvin George Eden, 6th Baron Auckland

(1895-1941), Associate of the Institution of Naval Architects; pilot and wartime flying instructor; assistant to the Air Attaché, Paris

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Celine Fernandez

19 December 2019, 13:05

Andrew Collins, Honorary Heritage Curator of the Royal Thames Yacht Club, has written a short biography (please see below) about Frederick Colvin George Eden, 6th Baron Auckland, and thought this might be of interest to the National Portrait Gallery.

Frederick Colvin George Eden, Sixth Baron Auckland, was born on 21 February 1895 the second son of William Morton Eden, 5th Baron Auckland, and Sybil Constance (née Hutton). The title is an Irish one although Frederick’s great uncle, George Eden, a successful Whig politician (thrice First Lord of the Admiralty and thereafter Governor-General of India between 1836 and 1842) was additionally ennobled in England as the first Earl of Auckland but, as he died childless, the English earldom became extinct. Of coincidental interest, the capital of New Zealand took its name from the family and an indirect descendant was Anthony Eden, Prime Minister from 1955 to 1957.
Frederick was born in Chelsea and raised in Yealhampton, Devon, with his elder brother, in some style, the house boasting a retinue of 16 servants. An education followed at Malvern, between 1908 and 1912. He then attended the Camborne School of Mines in Cornwall where he studied geology and mining, one of his great uncle’s many interests. From the moment of leaving school, he had shown an interest in flying aeroplanes. One record shows that, in October 1912, he joined the Royal Flying Corps, which had only been formed the previous April. However, that seems an unlikely commitment alongside his studies and the fact that in April 1914, he went to New York where he certainly learned to fly, attaining, on 10 June 1915, Aviator’s Certificate 331 issued by the Aero Club of America qualifying in a Curtiss Biplane at North Island, San Diego. Flying was still in its infancy, Wilbur and Orville Wright having been issued with certificates numbered 3 and 4. He qualified as a civil pilot and, on one occasion, crashed into the sea off Florida but, fortunately, it was a flying-boat although, having his mother as a passenger, probably did not make the occasion too easy.
On 3rd March 1915, his elder brother, Lieutenant the Hon. William Alfred Morton Eden, serving with 4th Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps, had been killed in action at St Eloi on the Western Front. His father’s death followed on 31 July 1917 and it must be around that time he returned to England, succeeding to the family title. Once back, he certainly joined the Royal Flying Corps, initially as an airman before becoming an instructor.
On 2 June 1917, nearly 2 months before his father’s death, he married Susan Livingston Hartridge, originally from Florida, whom he had met whilst in America. She bore him a daughter, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1925.
Apart from his flying, he was an Associate of the Institution of Naval Architects and had a flair for taming wild animals.
He was elected a member of the Club in 1933, at which time, he was the owner of a 52-ton motor yacht named Search Light.
In April 1939 he married a widow, Constance Caroline Hart-Faure, shortly before joining the RAFVR, in September of that year, as a flight lieutenant. In 1940, serving as assistant to the Air Attaché in Paris, he had to make a hasty return to London, prior to the German occupation in June that year. One might be forgiven for thinking that his Lordship had returned to safety but the following extract from the Dumfries and Galloway Standard of 19 April 1941 sadly tells otherwise: -
'Heavy Casualties and considerable damage were sustained in Wednesday night's air attack on London. The raid, which lasted for almost the whole duration of the hours of darkness, was the most fierce ever delivered on the capital.
The German High Command describes it as a 'reprisal for the British raid on Berlin and Potsdam' last week, and Nazi spokesmen refer to it as of 'hitherto unheard-of dimensions.' The Germans claim that a hundred thousand incendiary bombs were dropped.
Among prominent people killed were Lord Stamp, Chief Economic Adviser, and Lord Auckland, a former Assistant to the British Air Attaché in Paris.'
His name appears on a memorial in Brookwood Cemetery where his remains are interred.

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