5.5 inch Naval Gun


This gun was manned by Jack Cornwell when he won his Victoria Cross during the Battle of Jutland in May 1916

Boy First Class John Cornwell was a member of the crew attached to the forward 5.5-inch gun o the forecastle of the light cruiser HMS Chester. His duties included transmitting the gunnery control officer’s orders to his gun captain and adjusting the brass sight-setting disc on the left-hand side of the gun.

On 31 May 1916 HMS Chester went into action at the Battle of Jutland. The ship was extensively damaged by German gunfire. The forecastle received a direct hit wich killed or wounded every member of Cornwell’s gun crew.

Cornwell was struck in the chest by a shell fragment but he remained at his post, awaiting orders from the bridge. It was only when HMS Chester was disengaged from the action that Cornwell was taken below for treatment.

Two days after the battle Cornwell died of his wounds, aged sixteen years. He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, the second youngest recipient of the award.

His medal can be seen upstairs in the Victoria Cross and George Cross gallery.

Technical specifications:

CALIBRE: 5,5-inch (14 cm)
RANGE:  18,500 yards (16,916 m)
AMMUNITION: 82 lb high explosive, shrapnel

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