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Edward Arnold CORNELL

Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
L Cpl 1398 23y 16 Jul 1915 14 Jun 1919 5

Lance Corporal Edward Arnold Cornell (1891 – 1950)


Family background and early life

Edward Arnold Cornell known as 'Ted' was born on 4 September 1891.  Ted was the second in the family of eight children of which only two were boys.  His parents Arthur Edward Cornell and Clarissa Bertha (née Southerden) were married on 5 June 1889 by the Reverend Edward Griffith, Congregational minister, and father of Sir Samuel Griffith, one-time Premier of Queensland and a leading figure in the development of the Australian Constitution.  Reverend Griffith had also been the officiating minister at the earlier marriage of Clarissa’s parents.

Arthur and Clarissa’s children were Mary Hilary (whom they called Hilary), Phyllis, Edward Arnold (Ted), Clarissa Bertha (Betty), Elizabeth Joyce (Betty's twin sister who died in infancy), Arthur Geoffrey (Geoff), Edith Victoria, and Catherine Thelma (Thel). 

Ted was educated at Eagle Junction State School.

Among the various occupations and business activities of his father Arthur were managing a tannery business at Kedron Brook (Lutwyche) and serving as an elected alderman on the then Coorparoo Shire Council.  Arthur was a highly-respected accountant and auditor who operated for many years throughout Brisbane, Toowoomba and the Darling Downs

Ted’s mother Clarissa was one of the eleven children of Edward Barton and Mary Elizabeth (née Cribb) Southerden.  Edward Arnold’s grandfather, Edward Barton and Mary met on board the ship Fortitude bringing them to Brisbane from England, arriving in 1849.  E.B. Southerden was a noted draper whose shop was on the corner of Edward and Queen Streets.  He died in 1906.

Edward Barton Southerden Junior and his wife, Frances, built a large home at Newmarket and had three daughters Vera, Dora, and Ethel who lived in this home until Frances died in 1942 and Edward in 1944 at the age of 85. 

Ethel had married and moved away but Vera and Dora remained unmarried and continued living in the old family home, looking after their ageing parents.  The residents in the surrounding houses knew these two gracious elderly ladies who were very generous to their neighbours, sharing milk, fresh eggs, vegetables from their garden, fruit from their guava trees, and home-made jams.  As well as managing this large home and garden they found time for creative pursuits including painting, tatting, wood carving, and writing.  They were also very well read and astute in their business affairs.

As the two sisters grew older it became too difficult for them to maintain the house and they donated their home and property to the City Congregational Church that they had attended their whole lives.  It became the aged care facility known as Southerden Lodge.

Enlistment and service

Ted was 23 years old when he enlisted in the 5th Light Horse Regiment on 16 July 1915.  He was given the number 1398, and embarked in Sydney on the SS Hawkes Bay in October 1915.  At the time of his enlistment the family lived on a farm at Gamoran, Goombungee.  Ted gave his religion as Congregational and his name appears on one of the Congregational Honour Boards in the Merrington Anzac Memorial Peace Chapel in Saint Andrew’s Uniting Church.

Ted’s attestation papers give his height as 5ft 6 (168cm), his weight 128lbs (58kg), his complexion fair, with blue eyes and light hair.

On arriving in Egypt in early December 1915, and after camping at Maadi about 10k from Cairo Railway station, he marched out in February 1916 to Serapeum on a distributary of the Nile between Cairo and Port Said a move made in connection with the defence of the Suez Canal from a Turkish advance across the Sinai Desert.

The new soldiers and their horses required further training and Australian camps mushroomed overnight outside Cairo.

In Cairo alone there were camps at Zeitoun, Mena House, Heliopolis, Kasr al-Nil and the Citadel.  The Anglo-Egyptians, as the British administrators were called, were the undisputed masters in these parts.  Those living in Maadi were not amused with the Aussie arrival.  These were rowdy, undisciplined and unkempt men.

Maadi's Brits did not waste time in communicating their strong reservations to the commanding officers.  On the other hand, Australian Comfort Committees had sprung up everywhere.  Their main function seemed that of distributing billies to the troops at every given occasion.  Billies were cooking vessels which, during wartime, were packed with buttons, shoe-laces, chocolate, postcards, soup tablets, insect powder, puzzles, safety pins, bandages, hair and tooth brushes, tooth powder, reading matter, tin openers, tinned fish and penknives.

The horses, packed on the boats and standing for seven or eight weeks, arrived weakened and stiffened in their legs and joints. They were exercised daily, at first gently, increasing to 10 mile exercises and training.1

In February 1916 the 5th Light Horse was dispatched to defend the Suez Canal from a Turkish incursion through the Sinai desert, with its activity being long-range patrolling, but it was engaged in several small engagements during August as the Turks retreated.  December 1916 saw the advance into Palestine until stalled before Gaza.  

The regiment participated in all three battles aimed at capturing the town.  During the first abortive attempt to take Gaza, the 5th attacked from the rear and was fighting its way through streets and gardens when ordered to withdraw.

Ted attended a School of Instruction on the Hotchkiss gun at Zietoun in September 1917 from which he graduated with 1st class results. 

Ted saw action in the battles of the Holy Land.  He was promoted to lance corporal on 24 April 1918, and spent a month in hospital before being discharged to duty in Gaza.  Clearly his health was not equal to it because only 10 days later he went to a rest camp at Moascar and several days later was admitted to hospital with malaria.

Post war

On 28 December 1918 Ted Cornell embarked at Suez on the HT Leicestershire for Australia.  He was discharged on 14 June 1919 as an invalid.

He was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.


Ted married Margaret Lucy Mary Dellar (Meg) at Ashfield Sydney on 11 April 1925.  They had no children.

During the 1930s and 1940s they owned holiday guesthouses on Magnetic Island (North Queensland) and in Toowoomba (Unara at the top of the Range which was built in 1906. In 1945 the property was bought by the Maternal and Child Health Division of the Department of Health as a home for mothers and babies with problems.  It closed in May 1977).


Ted died on 8 February 1950 and is buried at Mt Thompson Memorial Gardens.


1. ‘Unofficial history of the Australian and New Zealand Armed Services’, in the Egyptian Mail, April 20, 1996


• National Archives of Australia, military records. World War 1
• Australian War Memorial. Embarkation Rolls, World War 1
• Queensland Register of Births, Deaths, Marriages
• Hume Family Collection. Fryer Library. UQFL10
• Fifth Light Horse. Wikipedia. Accessed on 13.1.17
With respect to E.B. Southerden and his family

Compiled by Bob Warrick, Brisbane.  January 2017.  Edits and additions by Miriam King, February 2023 ©



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