Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

Adrian Philip (Tim) Goldsmith (1921–1961)

by Mark Lax

This article was published:

Adrian Philip Goldsmith (1921-1961), by unknown photographer, c1944

Adrian Philip Goldsmith (1921-1961), by unknown photographer, c1944

Australian War Memorial, NWA0255

Adrian Philip (Tim) Goldsmith (1921-1961), public servant, airman and business-manager, was born on 25 April 1921 at Waverley, Sydney, second son of Sidney Goldsmith, a native-born clerk who became a timber merchant, and his wife Philippa Mary, née Scott-Coward, from England. Called 'Tim' by his mother, he was educated at Newington College and—after the family shifted to Avoca Beach during the Depression—at Gosford High School. In July 1937 he took a job as a clerk in the New South Wales Department of Works and Local Government.

On 16 September 1940 Goldsmith enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force and trained as a pilot. In June 1941 he was sent to England where he served briefly as a sergeant pilot in No.234 and No.242 squadrons, Royal Air Force. He married Dorothea Rosemary Britton on 10 December that year in the parish church, Tuckingmill, Cornwall; they were to remain childless.

Moving to Malta in February 1942, Goldsmith joined No.126 Squadron, in which he flew Hurricanes and later Spitfires. On 21 April he shot down a Messerschmitt Bf 109 and damaged a second; during the first fortnight in May he destroyed six more enemy aircraft; his tally of German and Italian aircraft rose quickly. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal on 15 May and commissioned that day. On 15 June he attacked a large enemy formation, destroying two planes and probably a third in only ten minutes. For this action he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. When his tour ended in July, his 'kills' numbered 12¼. He subsequently received permission to wear a Maltese cross for his contribution to the island's defence.

Having spent a short term instructing in England, Goldsmith returned home and by January 1943 was a flight commander in No.452 Squadron, R.A.A.F. Between March and September, while operating from Strauss, near Darwin, he added four Japanese aircraft to his score. On 2 May he had been shot down: he parachuted into the sea and spent twenty-four hours in an inflatable dinghy before being rescued. Promoted acting flight lieutenant in September, he was posted to instructional duties at Mildura, Victoria, in April 1944. He was an acting squadron leader when his appointment was terminated on medical grounds on 31 May 1945. With 16¼ officially credited 'kills', he was one of Australia's top aces in World War II; his unofficial total was 19¼.

In 1943 Goldsmith's wife had been reported missing, believed killed, while voyaging to Australia. At St Mary's Catholic Church, Concord, Sydney, on 23 October 1944 he married an army nursing sister, Doris May McGrath. They lived at Burwood. A large man—6 ft 1 in. (185 cm) tall—with vivid blue eyes and an outgoing personality, he worked as a salesman. He joined Commonwealth Oil Refineries Ltd (later B.P. Australia Ltd) in 1946 and moved around New South Wales before returning to Sydney as State marketing-manager. Following an operation for ileo-caecal volvulus, he died of peritonitis on 25 March 1961 at the Sydney Sanitarium and Hospital, Wahroonga, and was cremated with Anglican rites; two years later his ashes were scattered over the Timor Sea. His wife, son and daughter survived him; a second son was born in October 1961. Ray Honisett's portrait (1987) of Goldsmith is held by the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Herington, Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943 (Canb, 1954)
  • Age (Melbourne), 14 Dec 1942, 11, 18 May 1943
  • Sun-Herald (Sydney), 26 Mar 1961
  • RAAF History Section, Canberra
  • private information.

Citation details

Mark Lax, 'Goldsmith, Adrian Philip (Tim) (1921–1961)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 23 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (Melbourne University Press), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Adrian Philip Goldsmith (1921-1961), by unknown photographer, c1944

Adrian Philip Goldsmith (1921-1961), by unknown photographer, c1944

Australian War Memorial, NWA0255

Life Summary [details]


25 April, 1921
Waverley, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


25 March, 1961 (aged 39)
Wahroonga, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.