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Last updated: 30 September 2013

Walden, Lieutenant Herbert J - Papers

Collection | Ref # 1996/130 | Held by Air Force Museum of New Zealand

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Walden, Lieutenant Herbert J - Papers


Herbert J Walden

Level of description:



177 items

Reference number:



Papers relating to the RAF service between 1918-19 and subsequent related mental illness, of Lieutenant Herbert J Walden. The papers include a letter written under training in 1918, a partial diary for 1919 and various service papers. The bulk of the collection is represented by correspondence regarding his mental illness, institutionalisation and financial support asoociated with his condition. There are also over 133 photographs and negatives associated with his RAF service.

Herbert Walden was born in Foxton on 29 December 1897. He attended Eltham District High School and in 1915 when aged 17 travelled to San Francisco. By 1917 he had moved to Vancouver and enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps through the RFC Recruiting Mission then operating there. He trained at Fort Worth, Texas and Beamsville, Ontario before being shipped to Britain in 1918. Further training at Scampton in Lincolnshire in 1918 followed. He arrived on the Western Front at at No.2 ASD on 9 November 1918, two days before the Armistice. On 23 November he joined 23 Squadron RAF on Sopwith Dolphins. After a period of leave he was transferred to 208 Squadron RAF on Sopwith Snipes and served in France and in Germany. In August 1919, he crashed badly and shortly afterwards returned to London, where he attended several Medical Boards and was hospitalised for a period. He appears to have been discharged in November 1919.

He returned to California, living in Berkeley and then Los Angeles, working in the stockbroking business. In 1938, he appears to have had a complete mental breakdown, featuring delusions and was hospitalised. This was possibly due to his crash in 1919 and a combination of the gloomy war news from Europe. After considereble difficulty he was returned to New Zealand in 1939 to be nearer his family , albeit without any pension and was admitted to Auckland Mental Hospital. He appears to have remained there for possibly the rest of his life. He died on 7 July 1965 and is buried in a soldiers' plot in Auckland. His occupation was given as 'invalid'.

The Museum also holds his medals and cap band.

Dates covered:

1897 - 1956

Archival history:

Service document copies have been added acquired from the RAF Museum, Hendon.

Access conditions:

No Restrictions

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Associated with:


Auckland · Foxton · Canada · USA


World War I · World War 1 · World War, 1914-1918 · Pilot · World War One · Royal Air Force (RAF) · Air Accidents · Mental illness

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