John “Jack” Cornwall, VC

A boy sailor aboard HMS Chester, John "Jack" Cornwall remained at his post despite being severely wounded during the Battle of Jutland.  He won the Victoria Cross at the aged of 16-years-old.


John "Jack" Cornwall VC (c) Lincs to the Past


John Cornwall, known as "Jack", was born on 8 January 1900 at Leyton in Essex.  Following the outbreak of the First World War, Jack enlisted in the Royal Navy and joined the light cruiser HMS Chester.

On 31 May 1916, HMS Chester went into action at the Battle of Jutland.  Jack was part of the team operating one of the cruiser's guns.  When his gun was hit by German shellfire Jack was severely injured but, despite being the sole survivor of his gun crew, remained at his post.  He continued at his post until HMS Chester retired from the action setting sail for the Lincolnshire port of Immingham to conduct repairs.

On arrival at Immingham Jack was transferred to Grimsby General Hospital.  His mother was summoned from Essex but Jack died from the injuries he sustained before she arrived.

John "Jack" Cornwall was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.  This was presented in November 1916 to his mother by King George V.  The Victoria Cross (often abbreviated to VC) is the Commonwealth's highest award for "valour in the face of the enemy".  Only 16-years-old at the time of his death, Jack Cornwall is one of the youngest recipients of the award.

The gun mounting from HMS Chester operated by Jack is still on display today at the Imperial War Museum in London.

During Remembrance 2015, The Gravity Youth Project will be publishing a number of stories, biographies and reports that reflect the contribution made by children and young people to our freedom, our communities and society as a whole.  In the the spirit of The Poppy Appeal, they remember the service of both the fallen and the living.  Check back daily until 11th November for the latest update and please, share your favourites with your friends online.

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