Free Delivery Order Over £200
This Christmas we'll be shipping right up until the 22nd December. If we're not sure of meeting your deadline we'll contact you straight away. All UK shipments are sent overnight.
On 31 May 1916 the British 'Grand' Fleet clashed with the German 'High' Fleet at Jutland in the North Sea. John Cornwell now a Boy, First Class, and not yet sixteen and a half years old, was the sight-setter on HMS Chester's front 5.5-inch gun turret, with the job of taking orders from fire control and applying the necessary range corrections to the gun. At 5.40 p.m. HMS Chester came under heavy fire from four German Light Cruisers and was hit seventeen times in a few minutes. 30 men were killed and 46 wounded, amongst the casualties, the entire crew of the forward 5.5-inch turret.
After the shock of the battle only one figure, mortally wounded, remained standing by the turret. Captain Lawson the commander of HMS Chester, in a letter to Cornwell's mother, and referring to her son's conduct wrote :
"His devotion to duty was an example to all of us. The wounds which resulted in his death within a short time were received in the first few minutes of the action. He remained steadily at his most exposed post on the gun, waiting for orders. His gun would not bear on the enemy; all but two of the ten crew were killed or wounded, and he was the only one who was in such an exposed position. But he felt he might be needed and indeed he might have been; so he stayed there, standing and waiting, under heavy fire, with just his own brave heart, and God's help to support him".