b. 28/01/1898 Wolverhampton, Staffordshire. d. 21/09/1940 Dagenham, Essex.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 16-21/09/1940 Clacton, Essex.
Reginald Vincent Ellingworth (1898-1940) was born on 28th January 1898 in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, the son of Frank and Kate Louisa Ellingworth (nee Clarke) who had married in Birmingham in 1894. Reg had two brothers, Horace and Frank. Reg’s father worked as a carriage maker and the family lived in Aston Manor, Birmingham. Little else is known of Reg’s childhood. Reg served in the First World War.
In 1919, Reg married Rose Ward, but sadly she passed away in 1925. It is believed this could have been in childbirth but this is not confirmed. Following her death he re-married to Jessie Day Phillips. Reg and Jessie went on to have a son and three daughters.
On the outbreak of World War II, Reg was posted to HMS Vernon in the field of bomb disposal, and rose to the rank of Chief Petty Officer. He began to work closely alongside Lt Commander Richard Ryan and Lieutenant Dick Moore. On 16th September 1940, he and Ryan were the first two men to deal with the new Type C magnetic mine that fell at Clacton. When the first magnetic mines fell on London, Richard Ryan, with Chief Petty Officer Reginald Ellingworth, came forward without hesitation for the perilous work of making them safe, although with their unrivalled knowledge they were well aware of the dangers. The clock of the bomb fuse was normally timed to explode 21 seconds after impact. If it failed to do so, it might be restarted by the slightest movement. Together they dealt with 6 of these mines, one of them in a canal where they worked waist-deep in mud and water, making any escape impossible. The fuse could only be found and removed by groping for it under water. At Hornchurch they made safe a very hazardous mine which threatened the aerodrome and an explosives factory, and then they went to Dagenham on 21st September, to tackle a mine hanging from a parachute in a warehouse. Tragically, it exploded, killing them both.
Reg was posthumously awarded the George Cross alongside Richard Ryan and Dick Moore. He was buried in Milton Cemetery, Portsmouth with full military honours. His medal group including his GC, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, 1939-45 Star, Atlantic Star, War Medal 1939-45, and Naval Long Service and Good Conduct Medal were sold by his widow when she fell on hard times. His son tried to track them down, and eventually found them advertised in Medal News. The salesroom was contacted and it was discovered they had been sold and were going to Canada. Reg’s son negiotated with the new owner and obtained the medal group. After being in his possession in Norwich for a short time, he decided to put them on loan to the Imperial War Museum where they are on display in the Ashcroft Gallery.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ON LOAN TO IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: MILTON CEMETERY, PORTSMOUTH, HAMPSHIRE.
PLOT Y, ROW 18, GRAVE 11.
Reginald Ellingworth's medals on display at the Lord Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum, London