Lieutenant Leon Verdi Goldsworthy

Birth Date 19 January 1909
Birth Place Australia: New South Wales, Broken Hill
Death Date 07 August 1994
Death Place Australia: Western Australia, Perth
Also known as Goldsworthy, Leonard Verdi, Leon Verdi Goldsworthy, Leonard Verdi Goldsworthy
Final Rank
Units
Commonwealth of Australia Gazette 1 February 1945 on page 213 at position 2
London Gazette 16 January 1945 on page 419 at position 1

Leon Goldsworthy, born at Broken Hill on 19 January 1909, became Australia's most decorated naval officer of the Second World War. As a youth he was a successful amateur wrestler and gymnast. Educated at Kapunda High School, South Australia, and later at the Adelaide School of Mines, Goldsworthy went on to Adelaide University where he worked as a technician in the Physics Department.

In the years before the war, Goldsworthy was engaged in business in Western Australia. Initially rejected by the navy because of his small stature, he made a second attempt to enlist in March 1941 and was accepted as a probationary sub-lieutenant in the Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve. Shortly afterwards he was sent to England to complete his training.

In England, Goldsworthy volunteered for the Rendering Mines Safe Section of HMS Vernon. He quickly proved himself a skilled officer who was able to use his pre-war training in electricity and physics to good effect. His work often required him to defuse mines underwater wearing a bulky diving suit that made the slow, steady movements required in this work very difficult.

On 13 August 1943 Goldsworthy defused a German mine in the water off Sheerness using a special diving suit which he and a colleague had helped to develop. In September and October 1943 he defused two mines, one of which had rested at a Southampton wharf for two years and the other in the River Thames. For this he was awarded the George Medal. Then, in April 1944, he disarmed an acoustic mine that had lain in the water off Milford Haven for two and a half years. In September 1944 he received the George Cross for his work in recovering and defusing mines between June 1943 and September 1944. This award was given to civilians or military personnel for actions not normally covered by purely military decorations.

Before the Allied invasion of France, Goldsworthy was involved in the selection and training of men for port clearance and he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in January 1945 for his bravery and leadership in clearing Cherbourg Harbour, which was needed urgently to supply Allied troops advancing across France. On one occasion he disarmed a new German 'K' type mine in 15 metres of water under shellfire. After his work in France, Goldsworthy served with the United States Navy in the South Pacific Theatre, helping to defuse Japanese mines in the Philippines and in the Borneo area. He was among the first to enter and search the caves in Correigidor.

By the time the war ended, Goldsworthy had been promoted to acting lieutenant commander and was Australia's most highly decorated naval officer, having rendered more than 300 mines safe. After the war he returned to Perth and became manager of the Rainbow Neon Light Company. In 1991 he became vice-chairman (overseas) of the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association. He died in Perth on 7 August 1994.

Collection items

Honours & Awards

  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    George Medal
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Unit
    Royal Australian Navy
    Conflict
    Second World War, 1939-1945
    Rank
    Lieutenant Commander
    London Gazette
    18 April 1944 on page 1775 at position 2
    Commonwealth Gazette
    4 May 1944 on page 925 at position 8
  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    Mention in despatches
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Unit
    Royal Australian Navy
    Conflict
    Second World War, 1939-1945
    Rank
    Temporary Lieutenant
    London Gazette
    15 August 1944 on page 3767 at position 7
    Commonwealth Gazette
    31 August 1944 on page 2031 at position 9
  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    George Cross
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Unit
    Royal Australian Navy
    Conflict
    Second World War, 1939-1945
    Rank
    Lieutenant
    London Gazette
    19 September 1944 on page 4333 at position 1
    Commonwealth Gazette
    28 September 1944 on page 2211 at position 4
  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    Distinguished Service Cross
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Unit
    Royal Australian Navy
    Conflict
    Second World War, 1939-1945
    Rank
    Lieutenant Commander
    London Gazette
    16 January 1945 on page 419 at position 1
    Commonwealth Gazette
    1 February 1945 on page 213 at position 2
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    George Cross
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Conflict
    Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    Distinguished Service Cross
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Conflict
    Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    George Medal
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Conflict
    Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    Mention in despatches
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Conflict
    Second World War, 1939-1945

Timeline

Date of birth 19 January 1909 Broken Hill, NSW.
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 24 March 1941 Accepted as a probationary sub lieutenant in the Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve. Shortly afterwards he was sent to England to complete his training.
Date promoted 24 June 1941 Appointed lieutenant.
Other 1943-06-12 - 1944-04-10 Goldsworthy was involved in a series of German mine recovery operations.
Date of honour or award 18 April 1944 George Medal (GM). Awarded for the difussion of unexploded underwater mines at South Hampton Wharf and in the River Thames.
Date of honour or award 15 August 1944 Mention in Despatches.
Date of honour or award 19 September 1944 George Cross. Awarded for gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty during German mine recovery.
Date promoted 30 September 1944 Appointed acting lieutenant commander.
Date of honour or award 16 January 1945 Distinguished Service Cross.
Date of discharge 24 May 1946 After the war he returned to Perth and became manager of the Rainbow Neon Light Company.
Other 1991 Became vice chairman (overseas) of the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association.
Date of death 07 August 1994 Perth, WA.

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