Henry George CORNFORD

Year of Birth: 1890

Place of Birth:  Mackay, Queensland

Date of Enlistment:  20 August 1914

Date and Place of Embarkation:  24 September 1914, Brisbane, Queensland

Ship:  HMAT Omrah A5

Rank:  Driver, Sergeant

Unit(s):  9th Australian Infantry Battalion, 1st Australian Pioneer Battalion

Regimental Number:  901

Died:  17 October 1917



Pte H G Cornford – Northern Herald (Cairns) 19 June 1915


Harry George Cornford (known as Henry) the seventh of eight children born to William Cornford and his wife Ellen Moloney was born 13 March 1890.

When war broke out he was a Sawyer living at the Railway Hotel, Cairns and was Secretary of the Cairns Timber Workers Union.  He was one of the first to enlist on 20 August 1914 when he was 24 years 5 months of age.  He was 5 feet 11 1/8 inches in height and weighed 148 pounds with fair hair, grey eyes and flaxen hair.  He was Church of England.  He named his mother, Mrs. Ellen Cornford of Nebo Road,  Mackay as his next of kin.  His father had died in 1906.

He embarked from Brisbane on 24 September 1914 on the HMAT Omrah bound for Alexandria Egypt. He moved to Gallipoli on 2 March 1915 but was transferred to the Casualty Clearing Station then to Mudros, Greece, ill.  He was transferred to Alexandria, Egypt.  Between 1 September 1915 and 25 March 1916 and had a number of transfers to hospitals with various illnesses, finally being shipped to Marseilles, France.  He was again admitted to hospital ill at Etaples, France on 25 July 1916.  He joined the 1st Pioneer Battalion on 27 July 1916 and shortly after was promoted to Lance Corporal then Corporal on 8 March 1917.  He was appointed Lance Sergeant on 1 August 1917.

On 21 January 1917 he was recommended for the French Medaille Militaire for “conspicuous bravery during an attack on our trenches by Germans at Sailly-Sur-La-Lys and again did excellent work in kick-off trench at Pozieres and at Flers his courage and ability have been most marked.”

Medaille Militaire. Obverse: The head of Marianne, symbolic figure of the Republic, facing left, surrounded by the inscription ‘REPUBLIQUE FRANÇAISE * 1870 *’ within a blue enamel ring. The outer edge is formed from a wreath of laurel leaves. Reverse: The words ‘VALEUR ET DISCIPLINE’ on three lines within a blue enamel circle (damaged). The suspender is a loose ring attached to a mount bar that is a collection of crossed arms and an anchor behind a breast plate. A piece of 38 mm watered gold ribbon with light green edges is fitted to the suspender ring.  Established in 1852 by the Emperor Louis Napoleon, this medal is awarded to military personnel for bravery.

Henry George Cornford was killed in action on 17 October 1917 and is remembered at Belgian Battery Corner Cemetery, Ypres, Flanders, Belgium.


HMAT Omrah A5 – photo courtesy Australian War Memorial


AWM – Award


Sgt H G Cornford – French Medaille



Online Resources

Queensland Registrar of Births Deaths & Marriages

NAA: B2455, Cornford, H.G. National Archives of Australia

Trove Digitised Newspapers, National Library of Australia

Photograph of H.G. Cornford, Northern Herald 18 June 1915

Photograph of HMAT Omrah A5, Australian War Memorial

French Medaille Militaire, Australian War Memorial

Australian War Memorial

Daily Mercury (Mackay) 19 January 1918 p5


If you have a photograph or further information about this soldier you would like to share and add to his biography, please add a comment or contact the Society projects@cdfhs.org

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