|Date of Birth||August 25, 1889|
|Place of Birth||Athens, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Leslie John Cornwell (father), Kenora, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||School Teacher|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||No. 12 Company|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Branch||Canadian Forestry Corps|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Address at Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||May 29, 1917|
|Age at Enlistment||27|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||February 3, 1919|
|Age at Death||29|
|Buried At||Brookwood Military Cemetery, Surrey, England|
|Plot||III. M. 2.|
Lance Corporal Arthur Lloyd Cornwell enlisted in the spring of 1917 and served with the Canadian Forestry Corps for two years. He died on illness in England in February 1919, most likely a casualty of the influenza pandemic.
Arthur was the oldest son of John Leslie Cornwell and Henrietta Stone of Kenora, Ontario. John and Henrietta were both born in Ontario, called Canada West at the time, and they were married in 1888 in Athens, a small town northeast of Kingston. Arthur was born in Athens on 25 August 1889. John was a school teacher and over the next few years his family lived in several different places in Ontario. Two children were born in Oxford County: Estella in 1891 and a son who died as an infant in 1893. A third son Horace was born in Stratford, Perth County in 1899. By 1901 the Cornwells were living in the village of Meaford in Grey County. Their last child, a daughter, was born in Meaford in 1903 and she died at age seven months. By the time of the 1911 census the family had moved west to Vancouver and Arthur and Estella were both working as school teachers. A year or two later John and Henrietta moved back to Ontario and when the war started in 1914 John was the principal at Kenora High School.
By late 1916 the number of recruits in Canada had fallen off. The Canadian Corps suffered enormous casualties at the Somme that fall and there was a desperate need for more volunteers as well as talk of possible conscription. Arthur was working as a school teacher at the time and he enlisted in Winnipeg on 29 May 1917, towards the end of the school year. He passed his medical exam on 6 June and joined the No. 4 Forestry Draft in Military District 10 (Manitoba). Just two weeks later, on 22 June, he embarked from Halifax with his unit on the SS Justicia. In England Arthur was transferred to No. 68 Company of the Canadian Forestry Corps and he spent the next year at camps in Sunningdale, Folkestone and Southampton. In September he needed treatment for an eye injury after he was struck by a tree branch. In June 1918 he was transferred to No. 12 Company, which had just been organized at Sunningdale. The new unit was sent to France at the end of the month and Arthur was promoted to Lance Corporal.
Arthur spent almost five months in France. Canadian Forestry units were employed in cutting timber, running sawmills, preparing railway ties and helping to clear terrain and build airfields and aerodromes. They were occasionally called on to serve as infantry units when needed. Other work listed in the war diary of No. 12 Company included ‘clearing sites, ditching, draining, trimming and felling trees, hauling gravel, levelling, making culverts and drains, earthing, grading, ploughing, scraping, filling depressions, uprooting hedges, re-sodding, cutting pickets, stripping turf.‘
The Armistice was signed on 11 November 1918 and Arthur’s unit returned to England two months later. In a letter home dated 11 January 1919 Arthur said he had reached Etaples, France and he was on his way to Seaforth in England. He arrived at the Canadian Forestry Corps Base Depot on 15 January and on 23 January his medical exam prior to leaving the service found him fit and healthy. Within days however he was seriously ill. He died of broncho-pneumonia on 3 February at Paddington Military Hospital in London.
Arthur is buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery. Brookwood is just outside London and it’s the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the UK. He’s commemorated on the Kenora Cenotaph, the Kenora Legion War Memorial and the memorial plaque of the Kenora and Keewatin High Schools.
Tragically, Arthur’s sister Estella (Mrs. John Winter) died of influenza on 18 February 1919, just days after receiving the news of her brother’s death. She passed away in Kenora while visiting her parents. Estella left a husband and three young children and she’s buried in the Cornwell family plot in Beamsville, Ontario. Arthur’s father retired around 1929 and he and his wife Henrietta spent some of their retirement years in California. Henritta died in Orange County, California in 1945.
Arthur’s brother Horace Clifford Cornwell enlisted with the Royal Air Force and served in Canada for five months. After the war he became a dentist. He moved to California and passed away in Los Angeles in 1973.
By Becky Johnson