United Kingdom / Biography
Private Sidney Cornell was a British parachutist that participated in Operation Varsivity in March 1945 in France. He distinguished as a brave soldier that carried out his duty whenever it was needed.
Private Sidney Cornell was born in Portsmouth to an African American father. He soon joined the British airborne forces and showed his passion for flying. In 1943, he attended a parachute training and had excellent skills. His report states that he was the best performer and that he was intelligent and keen.
Cornell was posted to the 7th Parachute Battalion as a company runner and took part in Normandy campaign. Here he saw action at Le Mariquet woods and Le Bois de Bavent. Cornell was wounded four times but this did not stop him from carrying out his mission. For his brave conduct he was awarded with the Distinguished Conduct Medal in February 1945. He also received a promotion to the rank of sergeant.
Cornell saw further action during the Battle of the Ardennes and took part in Operation Varsity in March 1945. During this operation, Cornell’s battalion was tasked with securing a bridge in the German city of Neustadt. A local civilian warned Cornell’s commanding officer, Major Reid, that the bridge would be blown. Reid decided to rush to the bridge and attempt to capture it intact. A small group of men made it across the bridge but many others, including Cornell, died when German forces blew up the bridge.
Sidney Cornell died aged 29 years. He was given a field burial next to the bridge along with the other members of B Coy who were killed. He is now buried at Becklingen War Cemetery overlooking Luneberg Heath, Germany.