Jack Cornwell stone memorial unveiled in East Ham
PUBLISHED: 15:11 06 June 2016
A representative of the Queen was one of hundreds of people to pay tribute to a valiant boy who died for his country 100 years ago.
John Travers Cornwell – better known as Jack – died on June 2, 1916 after standing by his ship’s gun while it was ravaged by German firepower during the Battle of Jutland.
The 16-year-old, who grew up in Manor Park and Forest Gate, was awarded a Victoria Cross for his bravery and commitment and buried in Manor Park Cemetery with full naval honours.
During a memorial service in East Ham’s Central Park on Sunday, Cornwell descendant Clare Wallace said she was “immensely proud” of her relative.
“Our mum, Mary Cornwell, was John’s cousin, though everyone in the family called him Jack,” she said.
“His story has been handed down through the generations.”
She said she was “honoured” to see a street and community centre named for him and was delighted a stone memorial was put up on Sunday.
“It is somewhere else we can bring the family so we can keep on remembering him,” she added.
Deputy Lieutenant for Newham, John Barber Esq DL, gave a reading during the ceremony, which also included the unveiling of the commemorative stone by Newham’s deputy mayor Cllr Lester Hudson and Cadet Kacey-Leigh Jasper, 14, of the Cornwell VC Sea Cadets.
Cllr Hudson said he was humbled to attend the service, but cast doubt on whether the young boy being remembered ought to have been in the war.
“Jack should not have been in battle at all at his age, but in extraordinary circumstances he showed determination and bravery,” he said.
“It is right that we remember people who have died serving their country, and it’s right that Jack’s bravery is still remembered to this day.”
He added he hoped the cataclysm of the First World War is never again repeated while emphasising that we should continue to feel pride for those who fell for their country.