Battle of Jutland VC letter is auctioned

John Cornwell Image copyright North East Lincolnshire Museum Service
Image caption John Cornwell was fatally wounded at the Battle of Jutland but stayed at his post awaiting orders

A letter informing the mother of a 16-year-old sailor killed during World War One that her son was to be awarded the Victoria Cross has been sold.

John Cornwell was posthumously awarded the medal for his actions during the Battle of Jutland on 31 May, 1916.

The letter from the Admiralty tells his mother, Lily Cornwell, of the honour and asks whether she would like to receive it on his behalf from the King.

It fetched £2,500 in an auction run by Kent-based C&T Auctions.

Matthew Tredwen, of C&T Auctions, originally expected the letter to fetch between £800 and £1,000.

Cornwell, who was born in Leyton, then part of Essex, tried to enlist in Royal Navy at the outbreak of WWI in 1914, but was rejected because of his age.

Sole survivor

He joined up in 1915 without his father's permission and following basic training at Plymouth was assigned to the light cruiser, HMS Chester.

The vessel came under intense fire during the Battle of Jutland, which saw the British and German fleets of dreadnought class battleships come to blows for the only time during the conflict.

After the action, Cornwell who was the sole survivor at his gun, was found with shards of steel penetrating his chest, still looking at the weapon's sights and awaiting orders.

He was transferred to Grimsby General Hospital but died two days later.

Mrs Cornwell received her son's Victoria Cross from King George V at Buckingham Palace in November 1916.

The medal is the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

The letter is accompanied by an official document sent to Admiral Beresford about a fund to be established in his memory.

A painting depicting Cornwell at his gun post on HMS Chester hangs in St Paul's Church at HMS Raleigh, the Royal Navy's training base in Cornwall.

The scouts created the Cornwell Scout Badge for "courage and endurance" in light of his legacy.

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