Charles Cornell was born in July 1885, the youngest of six children to Philip and Martha Cornell, from Ashdon in Essex. Philip was an agricultural labourer, and Charles and his older brother Daniel followed their father into the trade.
Charles was keen to further himself, however, and enlisted in the army. The 1911 census records him as a Private soldier at the Salamanca Barracks in Aldershot.
Private Cornell married Elizabeth Fanny Hoare in Strood, Kent, in October 1913. Beyond this there is little information on either Charles or Elizabeth.
Charles was assigned to the 3rd Battalion of the East Yorkshire Regiment and was promoted to Corporal. This reserve battalion was initially based in the town of Beverley, before moving to Hull and then nearby Withernsea. It seems unlikely, therefore, that Corporal Cornell saw active service on the Western Front.
His passing seems to have been sudden; his pension record shows that he had been admitted to the Military Hospital at Wharncliffe with nephritis (inflamed kidneys). He passed away on 27th January 1918, aged 32 years old.
Corporal Charles Cornell is buried in the graveyard of St Helen’s Church in Cliffe, Kent, the village his widow’s family were from. He is also commemorated in his own family’s village of Ashdon in Essex (where the memorial states he had attained the rank of Sergeant).
The majority of the the Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstones in the UK are made from Portland stone, although, in face, over 50 different natural stones have been used.
Corporal Cornell’s headstone is one of two in St Helen’s Churchyard that have been fashioned from dark grey slate.