Legion saves Manor Park parade to honour war hero Jack Cornwell

An annual parade held to honour a teenage war hero has been saved after members of a Royal British Legion branch stepped in.

The parade in the memory of John “Jack” Cornwell 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 until the ship retirede action.

This year’s event was in jeopardy following ill health and the loss of licence at the Manor Park branch of the RBL which has traditionally organised the parade.

This year the Legion’s East Ham branch will be organising the parade on May 27 which will begin at the Jack Cornwell VC Centre in Vicarage Lane and make its way to St Mary Magdalene Church in High Street South. It normally runs from Church Road, in Manor Park and ends at St. Michael’s Church in Romford Road.

Ken Hill, secretary of the East Ham branch, told the Recorder it was important to recognise John Cornwell’s sacrifice with the parade. He thanked his colleagues at the Manor Park branch for allowing them to stage it this year and said he hoped they would be able to organise it themselves next year.

The parade will start at 11.30am on May 27. It will be led by the Air Cadets band and will include a service focusing on the young people of the borough. It will be attended by Army and Navy Cadets, members of the RBL and Commander John Ludgate from the Royal Navy Reserves.