East Ham parade honours teenage war hero Cornwell

Former members of the armed forces joined cadets and members of the public as they took part in a parade to honour a teenage war hero.

The annual parade in memory of John “Jack” Cornwell on Sunday was organised by the East Ham branch of the Royal British Legion which stepped in to save it.

It began at the Jack Cornwell VC Centre in Vicarage Lane and made its way to St Mary Magdalene Church in High Street South.

Ken Hill, secretary of the East Ham branch, said it was important to recognise John Cornwell’s sacrifice with the parade.

He thanked everyone who attended the parade at which there were 11 standards, representing all the RBL branches in the borough as well as the Sea Cadets and another from the Frontiersmen.

The parade was led by the Air Cadets band and included a service focusing on the young people of the borough.

This year’s event was in jeopardy following the loss of licence at the Manor Park branch of the RBL which has traditionally organised the parade. It normally runs from Church Road, in Manor Park and ends at St Michael’s Church in Romford Road.

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The parade is usually run by the Manor Park branch in the memory of John “Jack” Cornwell and has been held almost every year since 1948.

Jack was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross at the age of 16 for gallantry in the face of the enemy.

He died on June 2, 1916, after he was injured at the gun of HMS Chester during the Battle of Jutland.

Although the entire gun crew was dead or wounded, Jack remained standing at his post for more than 15 minutes.