Cornwell Badge

Cambridge District Scout Archive

The original Criteria for the Cornwell Badge as taken from the HQ Gazette of September 1916 are

September 1916 Headquarters Gazette

Whilst most of the later badges were issued to those suffering an illness, the first in Cambridge was for voluntary tests of physical courage.

The Cornwell Scout Badge

The Cornwell Scout Badge is awarded in respect of pre-eminently high character and devotion to duty, together with great courage and endurance.

It is currently restricted to Beaver Scouts, Cub Scouts, Scouts, Explorer Scouts and Scout Network Members. Both the bronze badge and the cloth emblem of the same design may be worn.

John ‘Jack’ Travers Cornwell, a Scout in the St. Mary’s Mission Group, Manor Park, London, entered the Royal Navy in 1915. It was wartime and training was brief, but Jack, helped by his days in Scouting, was able to adapt quickly.

On 31 May 1916 while serving in HMS Chester, Jack was struck by a shell splinter. Grievously wounded, he stayed at his post awaiting orders until he was relieved at the end of the battle. On reaching port, Jack was transferred to a hospital in Grimsby and three days later he died a national hero.

Jack Cornwell

For gallantry he was given both the Victoria Cross and the highest Scouting award, the Bronze Cross. To commemorate the courage shown by Jack, The Scout Association created ‘The Cornwell Scout Badge’ in his memory.

The Cambridge Chronicle of 12/07/1916 claimed Jack as a member of a Cambridgeshire family, his father coming from Bottisham – Lode. His father ‘is currently fighting in France and wears the South African Medal and Egyptian Star and medal.’

The Cornwell family is still present in and around the city. A C J Cornwell was P/L of the 3rd Cambridge (Morley Memorial). In 1928 John Travers Cornwell was born at 2 Castle Row Cambridge, named in honour of ‘Jack’.

In June 2019 I was approached by a cub from another local pack who repeated his family history of John Travers Cornwell (and he used the full name) was uncle to one of his forebears. He did not append the VC to his name. Maybe he had spoken to several leaders, maybe I looked old enough to know, but he was unlikely to know of my interest. The family clearly kept this memory alive with the Scouting connection intact and the Victoria Cross possibly for those outside the movement.

Cambridge District

The 1918 Cambridge District Annual Report listed amongst the badge examiners ‘Jack Cornwell Badge: The Executive Committee’, giving it due worth but assuming a far greater incidence than has proved to be the case.  

Only two are recorded in Cambridge District and one, from Oakington, has been identified in the older catchment of Cambridge District.

Cambridge Recipients

1          Erie Curwain   14th Cambridge (St. Columba’s)          ‘The Troop owes everything to Erie Curwain who won the Cornwell Badge 18 months ago’.     Reveille January 1920

Erie or Eric Curwain was the 12th recipient of the award in May 1918.  It is likely that the erroneous spelling of his name as Erie in the key document quoted above, Reveille, has been repeated. 

From the District Minutes of Feb 1918 ‘The DSM proposed Eric Curwain be recommended for the Cornwell Badge but it was decided to postpone the decision until the committee had seen the reports of independent witness.’  It was further postponed a month later ‘…the certificates produced were not adequate’.  The reason for the award is not stated in the Minutes. (See separate page on Eric)

The IHQ record below gives a summary of Eric’s award.

2          Roy Tarrant     7th Cambridge             18 months in hospital with TB 1964   Recorded at the time as being the first in county       

Cambridge News 1964 Held by Cambridgeshire Collection

Roy was the 347th recipient of the Cornwell Badge, a rate of about 7 a year.

3          Ian Lancaster  1st Oakington               Diligent scout whilst ill           1976

The Cornwell Badge is rarely awarded.  From The Scouter 1932  ‘There used to be such a number of applicants’ … ‘and a considerable cash benefit goes with the award where necessary’.  All recipients were eligible for a grant or scholarship to help them in their careers.  A later entry reports an increase in applications. In 2013 four were awarded to a youth membership of 434,000.

Gilwell Records:

1 12 Patrol Leader Eric Curwain. 14th Cambridge Troop. Cornwell Badge. May 1918. Cornwell012.jpg

3 347 Scout Roy Charles Tarrant. 7th Cambridge. Cornwell Badge. 25th March 1964. Cornwell347.jpg

JWR Archivist Jan 2019