Ex-Hastings reporter and WWII veteran dies aged 101

Francis Cornwall 2015 SUS-150428-120733001
Francis Cornwall 2015 SUS-150428-120733001

The family of a former Hastings Observer reporter and WWII veteran has paid tribute to him after he died on Monday (August 29).

Francis Cornwall passed away at Cumberland Court care home at 1.45am at the age of 101.

His daughter Jacqueline Cook said it has been tough as the great-grandfather was such a big part of her life.

“He was very funny right up to the end and at the nursing home especially, he was quite cheeky with the girls, he had them around his little finger,” she said.

“He was just my dad – he was just always there.

“He gave us a really happy life and I don’t think we were ever unhappy.”

Herbert Francis Benyon Cornwall was born in Hastings on April 27, 1915. He began his career in journalism in 1929 at the tender age of 14 when he started a five-year apprenticeship with the Evening Argus based at the paper’s Castle Hill offices, Hastings.

Francis married Louie at the Church in the Wood in 1934, and they were married for 58 years, until Louie died at the age of 78.

Along with Jacqueline, they had daughter Katherine and subsequently grandchildren Lucy, Sarah and Elisabeth, as well three great-grandchildren.

Francis had to put a temporary halt to chasing stories in 1066 country when he was called up for duty during the Second World War. Francis rose through the ranks to be promoted to Staff Sergeant Farrier Serving in the Royal Field Artillery while serving in Burma, Iran, Iraq and South Africa, but he still managed to put pen to paper. as a war correspondent.

Francis was awarded the Territorial Force Efficiency Medal, the Silver War Badge and the additional accolade from the War Office of being Mentioned in Dispatches.

After the war he returned to reporting at the Hastings and St Leonards Observer, along with ‘illegally’ sending storied to national papers and Southern TV.

Jacqueline said: “When he reported on sports items he was known as Veritas, meaning fair and true. A lot of people knew him by this name – these items were circulated nationally.”

Francis retired in 1987 and lived in Cumberland Court for the last six years where he was thoroughly spoilt and extremely happy, Jacqueline said. His funeral will be held at the crematorium, any donations are asked to be sent to Cumberland Court.

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