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Bravery Recognised

The bravery of Scouts undertaking war work and those who had joined the Armed Forces was recognised during the First World War.  Former Scouts were awarded at least 16 Victoria Crosses, the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the British and Commonwealth armed forces.


It was the bravery of one former Scout, Jack (John Travers) Cornwell, which led to the development of Scouting’s highest award for bravery, the Cornwell Badge, still in use today. 


In 1916 Jack was 16 years old and serving on the Royal Navy’s HMS Chester.  On 31 May 1916 HMS Chester was involved in one of the wars major sea battles, the Battle of Jutland.  HMS Chester was badly hit and Jack’s gun crew were all killed and he was badly injured. Despite his injuries he remained at his post awaiting further orders.  His injuries proved to be fatal and he died on 2 June 1916.  Three months later he was awarded the Victoria Cross in recognition of his bravery and dedication to duty.  The recommendation from Admiral David Beatty read:


"...the instance of devotion to duty by Boy (1st Class) John Travers Cornwell who was mortally wounded early in the action, but nevertheless remained standing alone at a most exposed post, quietly awaiting orders till the end of the action, with the gun's crew dead and wounded around him. He was under 16½ years old. I regret that he has since died, but I recommend his case for special recognition in justice to his memory and as an acknowledgement of the high example set by him."


The first Cornwell Badge was awarded in December 1916 to Patrol Leader Anthony Shepherd for two instances of bravery during his work assisting the Whitby Coastguard.



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