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VC/GC Diary

Welcome to the Victoria Cross and George Cross Diaries


Here we add daily diary entries on the anniversaries of when the Victoria Crosses and George Crosses were awarded.

GC Diary 19th September

By victoriagreen068, Sep 19 2016 05:18AM

The George Cross Diary for 19th September has no direct recipient of the medal for today’s date but does contain the story of a man whose George Cross was announced on today’s date in 1944.

Leonard Verdi (Leon or Ficky) Goldsworthy GC, DSC, GM was born on 19th January 1929 at Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia, the son of Alfred Thomas and Eva Jane (nee Riggs) Goldsworthy. Leonard was educated at Kapunda High School, South Australia, then went to the Adelaide School of Mines and the University of Adelaide. After graduating he moved to Perth where he joined the American Neon Sign Industry for Western Australia. He ended up working for Rainbow Neon for 46 years. He married Maud E Rutherford on 4th November 1939 and they had a daughter, Pamela. With the outbreak of WWII, he enlisted with the Royal Australian Volunteer Reserve with the rank of Sub-Lieutenant.

He arrived in England two months later where he became a member of the Rendering Mines Safe Section of HMS Vernon, joining other RANVR members on mine defusing duties. His education in physics and electricity stood him in good stead, as did his slim and muscular physique. Alongside two other future GC holders – John Mould GC and Hugh Syme GC – Lieutenant Goldsworthy invented a new diving suit that enabled bomb disposal experts to dive deeper without experiencing decompression problems. His combination of skill and courage meant that he was brilliant at his job.

He was awarded the George Medal on 18th April 1944 for various bomb disposal exploits, including making safe a German ground mine off Sheerness, Kent. It was only the second time ever that such a deadly weapon had been rendered safe underwater. Later that same year, he was awarded the George Cross for further bravery in dealing with dangerous acoustic-type mines. One of these, at Milford Haven in Wales, had been in place for 2 and a half years because no one dared tackle it. Goldsworthy later wrote about the device “like an old soldier an acoustic mine never quite dies: although the batteries run down they don’t run out”. As always, he rose to the challenge, removing first the fuse and primer and, later, the intact mine. Other mines he tackled during this period were at locations ranging from Dorset to West Hartlepool. The citation for the GC on 19th September 1944 said that the award was for “great gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty.”

Late in 1944, Goldsworthy and other bomb disposal experts were seconded to the US Navy in the Pacific. In January 1945, he was awarded his third gallantry medal, this time a DSC for stripping, in 50 feet of water, a German “K” mine in Cherbourg harbour, France. When the War ended, Goldsworthy was the most decorated Australian naval officer of the entire conflict.

Goldsworthy retired as Lieutenant Commander in 1946 and moved back to Perth where he returned to his old job at the Rainbow Neon Sign Company. He worked for the firm in all for over 46 years. After his first wife died, he remarried to Georgette Johnston in 1968. He died on 7th August 1994 aged 85 and was cremated at Karrakatta Crematorium, Perth. His ashes were scattered at sea. His medals are privately held.

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