Boy hero’s memorial plaque stolen from Hornchurch

A memorial plaque dedicated to a First Word War boy-hero was stolen by heartless thieves, in yet another shocking metal theft in Havering.

The bronze plate commemorates John ‘Jack’ Cornwell, or Boy Cornwell, who was just 16 when he died from wounds he received while manning his gun against German fire on the HMS Chester during the Battle of Jutland, in May 1916.

He was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross (VC) – the highest honour for gallantry in Britain – for staying at his post despite fatal injuries to his chest.

But around a month ago thieves ripped the plaque from its fixtures and it has not been seen since.

Eighty-year-old Sutton Avenue resident Russell Spencer, who has written about John Cornwell, said: “The plaque has been prised off – and for what? Probably to be melted down for about �10; anyone who melted it down has a lot to answer for!”

He added: “The plaque was a feature in Hornchurch and well-known. It is a horrible crime.”

The tablet was fixed to the entrance of the National Memorial Cottages – six semi-detached homes for disabled ex-sailors.

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They were built with cash from the Jack Cornwell Memorial Fund and opened by Admiral John Jelllicoe in May 31 1929 – the 13th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland.

Anyone with information should contact Havering Police on: 0300 123 1212.