Hornchurch residents replace stolen plaque for WW1 boy hero

Hornchurch residents and businessmen have dug into their pockets and replaced a stolen plaque erected in memory of a First World War boy hero.

The nameplate was unveiled on Friday, November 4, by organiser and businessman Steve Lowley along with other dignitaries.

The memorial commemorates John ‘Jack’ Cornwell ‘The Boy Hero of the Jutland Battle’ who fell when he was just 16 from wounds he received manning his gun against German fire on the HMS Chester, in May 1916.

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

The bronze nameplate was ripped from its fixtures back in April outside the National Memorial Cottages in Station Lane, Hornchurch.

Local businessmen Steve Lowley, 56, Dean Cooper, 39, DPM Builders, Alan Anderson, 53, ALM Metal Works, Iain Douglas, 50, Thistle Windows, Chris Smythe, 54, owner of The Ship in Romford and Decorator, Trevor Markham, 50, Park Leisure, Les Lee, 65, Acelux and businessman Rob Galvin all donated money and time to replace the plaque.

Steve said: “The plaque was made at the metal company ALM Metal works and a couple of us finished painting the railings.

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“We all chipped in and got it done!”

The nameplate is welded to the wall and made from lead which has been chemically bonded, making it less desirable to metal thieves.

Steve added: “If they try to take it this time, they’ll rip off the wall with it.”

Romford MP Andrew Rosindell, Havering Mayor Melvin Wallace attended along with dignitaries Tony Matthews Queen’s Volunteer Reserves Medal (QVRM), officers from HMS Mersey and HMS President of the Royal Naval Reserve and Senior Officer for the Ministry of Defence Captain Paul Hill.

Tony, 53, said: “It’s pleasing to see members of the local community and servicemen together.

“Jack was an important figure to the navy.”

Mr Rosindell added: “I was very proud to be there with everyone to commemorate Jack who died at a very young age. He showed bravery serving his country.

“I commend the local people who helped restore the plaque.”