Ernest Charles Cornock was born on 16th June 1896, in the Gloucestershire town of Wotton-under-Edge. His parents were carter Charles Cornock and his wife, Millicent, both born and bred in the town, and he was one of eight children.
When he left school, Ernest found work as a rubber winder in the local mill. However, he wanted bigger and better things and so, on 8th April 1913, he enlisted in the Royal Navy. His service records show that he stood just 5ft 3ins (1.60m) tall, had brown hair grey eyes and a fresh complexion. He was also noted as having a scar on his right cheek.
As Ernest was under age when he joined up, he was initially given the rank of Boy 2nd Class. He was sent to HMS Vivid, the Naval Dockyard in Devonport and, after four months’ training, during which he was promoted to Boy 1st Class, he was given his first posting on board the battleship HMS Queen.
After five months on board, Boy Cornock was given another assignment, and was transferred to HMS Lion. While on board, a number of things happened: the First World War broke out, and the battle cruiser fought at Heligoland Bight and Dogger Bank; Ernest came of age, and was given the rank of Ordinary Seaman on his 18th birthday; with ongoing good conduct, in September 1915, he was then given a promotion to Able Seaman.
After a short spell back in Devonport, Ernest served on a further five ships, taking him through to the end of the war. By the start of 1919, however, Able Seaman Cornock’s health was beginning to suffer. Having contracted tuberculosis, he was medically discharged from service on 19th February, and was admitted to a sanatorium back in Gloucestershire. Sadly the condition was to get the better of him, and he passed away on 14th April 1919, at the age of just 22 years old.
Ernest Charles Cornock was brought back to Wotton-under-Edge for burial. He was laid to rest in the graveyard of St Mary the Virgin Church in the town, not far from his second cousin, Albert Cornock, who had been buried just the week before.
As an aside to Ernest’s tale, the newspaper that reported on his funeral also noted that his grandmother, Ruth Cornock, had not long received a message from the King, congratulating her on the fact that nine of her sons had served in the conflict