Personal info

  • Name: John Travers CORNWELL
  • D.O.B: 8th January, 1900
  • D.O.A: 31st May, 1916
  • D.O.D: 2nd June, 1916
  • Award: Victoria Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Boy, First Class, (RN). Sight-Setter of the forward 5.5 inch gun, the light cruiser HMS CHESTER, 3rd Light Cruiser Squadron

The Battle of Jutland

31 may 1916

More details about:
The First World War. 1916 

Anglo-German naval rivalry had been one of the many underlying causes of the First World War. Both home fleets had however spent most of the first two years of conflict in their respective bases at Scapa Flow and Bremen. On 21 February 1916 the German army had launched a major offensive at Verdun but the French had resisted doggedly and the Germans were looking for ways to deter any British moves in support of the French. A plan was evolved to attack and destroy the British fast battle cruisers. These helped protect British troop traffic in the Channel and also prevented German warships from escaping into the oceans to harass British merchantmen. The British knew of the German plan and on 30 May the Grand Fleet under Admiral Sir John Jellicoe sailed out into the North Sea. The two fleets met off Jutland the following afternoon but neither side achieved complete success in the resulting battle, the British losing 14 ships and the Germans 11. The Germans concluded that they could not overturn British naval supremacy and their fleet returned to base, where it spent the remainder of the war. Germany chose to concentrate instead on submarine warfare, which had the unanticipated effect of helping to bring the United States into the war on the Allied side. In the shorter term the Battle failed to halt British plans for a major offensive on the Somme which opened on 1 July 1916.

Citation

 Mortally wounded early in the action, Boy, First Class, John Travers Cornwell remained standing alone at a most exposed post, quietly awaiting orders, until the end of the action, with the gun’s crew dead and wounded all round him. His age was under sixteen and a half years. 

Second Supplement to The London Gazette of 15 September 1916. 15 September 1916, Numb. 29752, p. 9085

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