Jack Cornwell

Two illustrated portraits of Jack - one in casual clothes and one in a sailor's uniform.

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Jack Cornwell is sometimes called 'Jutland Jack'.

A Victoria Cross medal with a blue ribbon Victoria Cross medal

He was one of thousands of sailors who fought in the Battle of Jutland in 1916. This was the biggest sea battle of World War One. Jack was badly wounded in the battle and died two days later. He was only 16.

For his bravery, Jack was awarded a Victoria Cross. The Victoria Cross is Britain's highest award for acts of outstanding bravery in battle. Created in 1856 by Queen Victoria, it is a cross in bronze (a metal made by mixing copper with tin).

The ribbon is usually crimson but when Jack won his VC in 1916 the ribbon given to sailors was blue. On the Victoria Cross are two words: For Valour. 'Valour' means bravery in battle.

Jack Cornwell joined the Royal Navy at 15. He was the youngest person to be awarded a Victoria Cross during World War One.

It's believed that only two younger people have ever won the Victoria Cross: Thomas Flynn in 1857 and Andrew Fitzgibbon in 1860. Both were 15 and soldiers in the British Army.

Did Jack receive his medal in person?

No. His wounds were so bad that Jack died in hospital two days after the battle. His Victoria Cross was awarded posthumously - meaning, after his death. His mother was given his medal by King George V.

The Victoria Cross is still awarded to brave soldiers. In 2012 a British soldier, James Ashworth, was killed in Afghanistan. He showed outstanding bravery, leading other soldiers during a fight against the Taliban before being killed. In 2013 he was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.

He was the 14th person to receive the award since World War Two ended in 1945.

Video clip

BBC Learning clip: An investigation into the life of the First World War hero, Jutland Jack

Teachers' notes

Teachers' notes and classroom ideas looking at the life and death of Jack Cornwell

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