The George Cross is the highest award that can be given for bravery that is not in the face of the enemy. In all likelihood, acts that are rewarded with a George Cross would probably be given a Victoria Cross if they were in battle.
One of the first Portsmouth men to be awarded the George Cross during the Second World War was Chief Petty Officer Reginald Ellingworth. Aged 42, he was serving at HMS Vernon, the Royal Navy’s torpedo school, which also trained officers and men in mine warfare, bomb disposal and diving. At the height of the Blitz in 1940 bomb disposal teams were obviously in demmand to deal with unexploded bombs.
CPO Ellingworth, together with Lt. Cdr. Richard Ryan, R.N., went to a warehouse in Dagenham, Essex on 21 September 1940, where an unexploded bomb was hanging from a parachute. The pair, who had faced many dangers together, were both killed by it’s explosion and both were awarded the George Cross posthumously. In a previous incident at Hornchurch, Essex Ellingworth and Ryan disabled a device threatening an aerodrome and explosives factory.Their George Crosses were announced in the London Gazette on 17 December 1940.
CPO Ellingworth is buried in Milton Cemetery, Portsmouth.