Hornchurch residents vow to replace stolen memorial

�A group of Hornchurch residents and businessmen have vowed to replace a stolen metal plaque erected in memory of a fallen First World War boy hero.

The bronze plate, dedicated to John ‘Jack’ Cornwell, was ripped from its fixtures from outside the National Memorial Cottages in Station Lane, Hornchurch, last month.

It remembers the 16-year-old sailor who was awarded a posthumous VC medal for gallantry following the Battle of Jutland in May 1916.

Jack remained at his gun post on the HMS Chester despite fatal chest injuries.

Steve Lowley, 56, Dean Cooper, 39, Aaron Anderson, 53, Iain Douglas, 50, Chris Smythe, 54, Trevor Markham, 50, and Les Lee, 65, were “appalled” to learn of the theft and have started a fund for a new memorial.

Steve, from Rowan Walk, said: “I live in Hornchurch and I used to pass the Cornwell memorial all the time and I knew the history. My friends and I were utterly appalled to hear it was stolen.

“One of my friends works with wrought iron so he will replace it in iron. It will be the same memorial but worthless to anyone else.”

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The group also wants to paint the railings surrounding the six semi-detached cottages in Station Lane – which were built for disabled ex-soliders and opened by Admiral John Jelllicoe on May 31, 1929, the 13th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland.

n Anyone with information on the missing tablet should contact Havering Police on 0300 123 1212.