Crowdfunding campaign launched to remember boy hero Jack Cornwell

Charcoal sketch of Jack Cornwell VC, by Frank O Salisbury

·         New crowdfunding campaign launched by the National Museum of the Royal Navy to pay tribute to Jack Cornwell who died shortly after the Battle of Jutland

·         Jack, 16, was awarded the Victoria Cross for remaining at his post on HMS Chester despite bearing mortal wounds

·         Campaign is to raise funds to restore preparatory drawing of Jack

·         Drawing would form the centrepiece of a National Museum of the Royal Navy exhibition for centenary of Jutland next year

A new crowdfunding campaign has been launched by the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) to raise £25,000 to pay for a large charcoal sketch of boy hero Jack Cornwell.

Jack, who died shortly after the Battle of Jutland at age 16 in 1916, remained at his post on HMS Chester despite bearing mortal wounds. Jack was one of the youngest people to join the Royal Navy. His heroism and demeanour have touched many hearts and after an initial common burial, his body was exhumed and he was publicly re-buried with full naval honours.

His story captured the hearts of the nation, and soon after his mother received a letter announcing that he would be posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions.

This crowdfunding campaign comes ahead of a Battle of Jutland blockbuster exhibition at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard due to open in May 2016, titled “36 hours: Jutland 1916, The Battle That Won The War.”

Head of Heritage Development at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Nick Hewitt, said: “In 1916, Jack’s actions captured the hearts of the nation and now 100 years on, we want to do the same.

“Before Frank O.Salisbury created the painting of Jack, he prepared a charcoal sketch, which is nearly 3m x 1.5m wide. This is the only piece of preliminary work and frankly it was not meant to last this long. When we acquired it, it was in a poor condition. It was very fragile.

“What we want to do is have this sketch restored so we can put it as a centrepiece in our Battle of Jutland centenary commemorations in 2016. There’s a lot of work to be done and we really need the funds to support it.”

After the Battle of Jutland, school children from around the nation each donated a penny of their pocket money to sponsor his memorial stone and contribute to The Jack Cornwell Memorial Fund. The fund was established to finance a ward for disabled sailors in the Star and Garter Home, at Richmond. It was possibly one of the first crowdfunding campaigns. An impressive amount of £18,000 was raised, which, based on an historic inflation calculator, is equivalent to £1,653,224.45 today.

Jack’s valiant efforts in the First World War also inspired the Scouting Association to create the Jack Cornwell Badge, the highest honour a Scout can receive.

Recipient of the badge, Victoria Edwards, 16, from Havant, says the award is an inspiration to young people everywhere.

She overcame a brain haemorrhage and continued to attend Havant Scouts.

“I was 14 when I got the award,” she said. “I was just a normal child before I became very ill with a brain haemorrhage and that paralysed me on the left side. But as soon as I left the hospital after the summer holidays I started to go to Scouts again, in a wheelchair. I was being lifted up the stairs because I really wanted to be there. I got the award as I ‘scouted through adversity’.”

She added: “It’s not every day you have someone like Jack fighting on, despite being wounded. You don’t get that a lot now so these people need to be cherished and celebrated.”

See our crowdfunding campaign video on Youtube here: https://youtu.be/9JkteMC09_o

Support the campaign by visiting our crowdfunding page at http://igg.me/at/jackcornwell

HMS Hermes returning from the Falklands