Bishop pays tribute to Newham hero Jack Cornwell

PUBLISHED: 12:00 21 August 2016

Jack Cornwell    Picture: Newham Archives

Jack Cornwell Picture: Newham Archives


A century ago this month – while the nation reeled from the indecisive Battle of Jutland, the death of Lord Kitchener and the Somme offensive – a solemn ceremony marked the erection of a very special war memorial.

The ceremony on August 4, 2016     Picture: Historic EnglandThe ceremony on August 4, 2016 Picture: Historic England

The Bishop of Stepney, Rev Adrian Newman, joined other officials at St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate church to pay tribute to the fallen lord, sailors, soldiers and Manor Park-schooled hero John “Jack” Cornwell.

It was August 4, 1916 – Jack, a 16-year-old boy serving aboard HMS Chester during the Battle of Jutland, had died two months earlier after staying at his gun despite relentless German fire.

He was given a Victoria Cross and mourned nationally as the epitome of the self-sacrifice Britain needed to win the First World War.

On August 4, 2016, the Bishop of Stepney again joined dignitaries to commemorate the fallen.

The original unveiling ceremony on August 4, 1916    Picture: St Botolph-without-BishopsgateThe original unveiling ceremony on August 4, 1916 Picture: St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate

“The memorial suggested that everybody, from an immensely famous peer of the realm like Lord Kitchener to a young boy like Jack Cornwell, were equal in this war,” Katy Whitaker, who advises on war memorials at Historic England, said.

“But it’s not at all surprising to see him there after what he did – and not surprising to see him remembered in the City of London, in many ways the centre of the country.”

Ms Whitaker added the commemorative obelisk was the first free-standing First World War memorial in London, and that the ceremony set a precedent for the hundreds – perhaps thousands – that followed it.

“What’s most poignant to consider is the war was far from done,” she said. “They had no idea, but hundreds of thousands of men were still to die.”

Grade II St Boltolph's Bishopsgate, City of London      Picture: Historic EnglandGrade II St Boltolph's Bishopsgate, City of London Picture: Historic England

Also present – and representing Newham – was Canning Town South’s Cllr Brian Collier, who said he was proud of Jack’s “brave and selfless acts”.

“We should never forget the heroic acts undertaken by people who serve our country and Jack Cornwell’s story is one of the most amazing,” he said.

He added: “It was a very moving and thought-provoking service which reinforced why we must continue to show our pride in those who have served in the armed forces and those who continue to serve.”

But Cornwell’s memory – honoured already this year when his Manor Park grave was listed in May – was also hailed by a seafaring representative.

Lt Adam Mendrys, commanding officer of the Newham Cornwell VC Sea Cadets, said the “strong link” between his young sailors and the boy hero lives on a century later.

“Every year we have a parade to remember Jack,” Lt Mendrys said.

“But this year we had the deck plate of HMS Chester – the part of the ship where he died – which was amazing since the only other person to have one of those was Horatio Nelson.”

He added the example of Jack was very important for his charity, which “exists to give young people the best starting chance in life”.

“A lot of fully grown adults would have found what Jack did difficult,” he said. “Never mind a 16-year-old boy. It’s about commitment, loyalty, respect – Jack emodies all of our values.”

Related articles

Latest Newham Stories


Wapping’s men and women celebrated hard-fought wins in their latest East League outings at the weekend.

A chance to win a perfect book for West Ham fans just in time for Christmas

Football League

The big Hammers striker played 45 minutes in a friendly at Brentford and is looking for a place on the bench for Saturday

Andy Carroll

Leyton Orient captain Jobi McAnuff has heaped praise on forward duo Macaulay Bonne and Josh Koroma after the pair both netted in their 3-1 win against Bromley.

Josh Koroma
37 minutes ago

A woman from East Ham who was famously sentenced to the death penalty in the 1920s is to be reburied in her family grave.

Home Office

Staff on the Central line are set to walk out for 24 hours the weekend before Christmas.

A bid by Iceland to sell alcohol in its branch inside the Stratford Centre has been meet with concerns by the council and police.

Firefighters tackled a blaze that broke out at a block of maisonettes in the early hours of the morning.

Canning Town


Have you spent time as an unpaid carer? If you are over the age of 25 and living in Newham, the Working for Carers scheme can help you take the first steps back to employment.

Hanson Fernandes’ journey began in 2015 when he arrived in London from Goa, India.

Newsletter Sign Up

Newham Recorder twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read news

Show Job Lists

Education Promo

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Newham Recorder
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now