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NAVY NEWS, MAY 2002 At Your Leisure


one manufactured by the media that led to what the late John Winton called "a convulsive spasm of collec- tive commemoration" The strange and tragic story

Cornwell achieved a kind of fame he could not have dreamt of during his short life -


shocked today to learn . . . that the boy-hero of the naval victory has been buried in a common grave. The flowers were sent by his schoolmates - they in their humble way paid the honour that the Admiralty failed to give the young hero."

of Cornwell and his family is told by Stephen Snelling in VCs of the First World War:

The Naval VCs (Sutton £25). The Boy Seaman's Service

instance of devotion to duty" he remained, mortally wounded, at his gun is one of the Navy's most famous. Less well-known, as it became buried under the weight of the adulation to which his name was later subjected, is the sorry tale of how his posthumous VC actual- ly came to be awarded.

career lasted less than ten months, of which only the final 29 days would be spent in his first and last ship, the light cruiser HMS Chester. The story of how in a "splendid

Cornwell was the only non-officer to be singled out by Admiral Beatty in his account of the Battle of Jutland.

his case for special recognition in justice to his memory, and as an acknowledgement of the high example set by him." Seized upon by the newspapers,

He concluded: "I recommend

Unfortunately for the Navy, the story was not simply one of virtu- ous bravery, but of official neglect. Beneath a front-page photograph showing his grave, marked only by a numbered peg, the Daily Sketch declared: "England

the 16-year-old hero instantly became

headline news. will be

Lawson, was furious. As relatives and friends posed for what seemed like carefully staged photographs alongside the "still nameless" grave, the man whose own report to Beatty was responsible for his name being brought to public notice complained bitterly: "What was (and is, essentially) a clean, fine, simple story of devotion to duty has been besmirched by the paws of the Press." He pointed out that had the

CornwelPs CO, Capt Robert

boy's mother not elected to have his body moved from the hospital to her own house, there would have been a funeral with full naval honours. "As it was, she wished to take the

with all the pomp and pageantry associated with a State funeral, but in Manor Park, close to where he grew up. Shops closed and dense crowds

made, was the reply. It was sug- gested his body be exhumed and reinterred at Devonport. His mother at first refused - but by now Jack Cornwcll had become public property and in the end a compromise was reached. He would be laid to rest again

lined the route of the second funeral on July 29, 1916 - an event of its kind unmatched by any other during the war. Six weeks later came the announcement of the VC. Now his face appeared every- where - in paintings by distin- guished artists, on stamps that sold in millions and in a stained glass window thousands of miles away in Kingston, Ontario.

eous indignation in the Press and cynical political manipulation, the saga of the "boy hero" took on a momentum all of its own. Lord Beresford wanted to know if he was to be awarded a posthumous VC. No recommendation had been


cover this, and instead of helping quietly, publish half the story far and wide ... Many of his shipmates were more fortunate in resting in the North Sea where not even a ghoulish pressman can disturb your mortal remains." Fuelled by a display of self-right-

body away for a private funeral, and the cost of the journey is paid by the Admiralty, but not, I believe, the cost of the funeral also. Perhaps poor Mrs Cornwell hardly understood all that, but felt she would like to have her neighbours at the funeral; then discovered that she couldn't afford to pay for a sep- arate grave. "Meanwhile, the pressmen dis-


September 30 - to be known as Jack Cornwell Day. Among the more notable posthumous honours were those initiated by the Scout Movement. Awarded the Bronze Cross, the highest award for gallantry, Jack Cornwell had his name perpetuat- ed with the instigation of a new badge, to be awarded to Scouts of high character who have shown devotion to duty, courage and endurance His name was exploited for fund-raising campaigns, raising money for a Star and Garter Home at Richmond, naval scholarships and six cottages for retired sailors. The latter were built at Hornchurch, under the auspices of a memorial committee formed as early as July 1916, and opened on the 13th anniversary of Jutland by

ramed portraits were hung in classrooms all over the country and schools for many years paid

homage on

Publishing Ltd Producers of the acclaimed video films

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- by Bob Baker

• Navy man as RAF leg- end - Kenneth More plays Douglas Bader

Kenneth More a Navy star to remember

A. \Jieyday - which was, at least movie-wise, the 1950s - More was one of the biggest British stars on the scene. He invariably played the same sort of character -

affable, competent, uncomplicated - in a succession of comedies, adventure yarns and war stories. In real life he was a Navy man, and the books of reminiscences he wrote (Happy Go Lucky, More or Less) are worth track- ing down for their anecdotes about life afloat during World War II. On screen, however, he was liable to turn up in any

A NAME from the past: Kenneth More, /\ who died 20 years ago this summer. In his

released at the beginning of 1963: it was available on video a while back and copies of it may still be found in one place or another. It's a farce, based on a best- seller of the day by John Winton, in which More plays the tactless Lt Cdr Badger, who can never resist telling his superiors when they're in the wrong. This inevitably results in a rapid series of postings,

of the Services. He played Douglas Bader, the tin- legged, much-decorated RAF ace in Reach for the Sky; he was the Army beachmaster for the Normandy landings in The Longest Day.And he starred as Director of Naval Operations in Sink the Bismarck. His most famous sea-going role, though, was undoubt- edly in A Night to Remember, in which he played C. H. Lightoller, Second Officer of the ill-fated Titanic. His appeal seemed to wane as the 1960s progressed,

and increasingly he came to be found on the small screen - notably in The Forsyte Saga - or on the West End stage. Perhaps the last movie describable as a 'Kenneth More vehicle' was We Joined the Navy,

one of which is as an instructor at Britannia Royal Naval College. Taking up about half an hour of the movie, this section may hold the greatest interest now, at least for former cadets, with its on-the-spot filming of exterior scenes - although what with Carry On vet- eran Sid James in charge of a class on ballroom danc- ing, it may be felt that the representation of life at Dartmouth lacks a certain authenticity. The big part of the film is concerned with Badger's misadventures as liaison officer with the American Mediterranean Fleet. It must be said that audiences today are unlikely to find much amusement in any of this - prompting the thought that the reason More went out of fashion may have been related to the qual- ity of his material, rather than having anything to do with the man himself.

Certainly the sort of breezy, amiable efficiency he personified still seems a pretty admirable model, for Service life and for life in general.

C CLASS DESTROYERS Handy popular volume. CA's, CH's, CD's, CR's. £10 + £1 Post/Packing (UK). £2 elsewhere. Sterling only. Cheques/PC's with order please to:-

Margaret Cox, 98 Bitham Lane, Stretton, Burton on ' I'mil, DE13 OHB

"HMS. GANGES (The final farewell) . . video. Ideal birthday /surprise present. Documentary includes all aspects of GANGES before demolition. One tear-jerking hour of

by JOHN DOUGLAS author H.M.S. GANGES (Roll on my dozen!) & H.M.S GANGES (Tales of the T.R.O.G.'S.) S.A.E. details Douglas Hse, Penmarth Redruth. Cornwall TR16 6NX

nostalgia, produced Also Still Available in Hardback:

HMS VANGUARD 1944-1960 BRITAINS LAST BATTLESHIP £19.95 + P&P HMS EAGLE 1942-1978 £18.95 + P&P HMS VICTORIOUS 1937-1969 £21.00 + P&P HMS CENTAUR 1943-1972 £16.95 + P&P THREE ARK ROYALS 1938-1999 £23.00 + P&P TIGER, LION & BLAKE 1942-1986 £21.50 + P&P ILLUSTRIOUS & IMPLACABLE AIRCRAFT CARRIERS £23.00 + P&P Please add £2.50 pip for the UK & EU or £4.00 for worldwide surface mail. Payment by sterling cheque, postal order, or by VISA/MASTERCARD. Telephone/Fax orders welcomed. From FAN PUBLICATIONS, 17 Wymans Lane, Cheltenham, Glos OL5I 9QA. Tel/Fax 01242 580290. or order from good bookshops.

BOOK TO PUBLISH? We are currently seeking books in all categories.

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Illustrated with more than 200 action photographs, this is the history of the Falklands War, told in the words and pictures of those who were there.

DAVID REYNOLDS has written several titles on military subjects, including Paras and Commando (Sutton). HARDBACK ISBN 0 7509 2845 X


Sutton Publishing, Phoenix Mill, Thrupp, Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL5 2BU Tel: 01453 731114 Fax: 01453 731117

HMS HERMES 1923 & 1959 By Neil McCart

or the first time in one volume, here are the comprehensive histories of the two aircraft

carriers named Hermes. The stories take the reader from the 1920s into the Second World War, the late 1950s and 60s, through to the Falklands campaign

and into the Indian Navy where the last Hermes serves as INS Viraat. There are 137 photographs, including seven in colour and a foreword by Rear-Admiral K. A. Snow, the Hermes' last CO. Hardback with full-colour laminated dust jacket. Price £24 plus p&p. ISBN 1 901225 05 4

Arthur was killed in action in France. By the end of the war his widowed mother, with two children under 18 to support, was in dire financial straits and struggling against ill health. With only 6s 6d and 10s a week from the Navy League to sustain her, she was no longer able to pay the rent on her home in East Ham and was forced to take rooms in Stepney. Not even a public outcry could

persuade the Memorial Fund set up in her son's name to help and on October 31, 1919 Lily Cornwell was found dead in her bed, an exhausted woman at 48.

were being quietly forgotten. While his heroic image was raising thousands for all manner of causes, they slipped towards poverty. On October 25 his father Eli suc- cumbed to bronchial catarrh while on active service - aged 63 - with the Royal Defence Corps and was buried in the same grave as his son. Two years later his stepbrother

Earl Jellicoe himself. Meanwhile, Cornwell's family

J BOY HERO: Three years after losing her son and hus- band on active service, Jack Cornwell's mother was allowed to die in poverty

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