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W. Bonner, Carrier and Cycle Agent
W. Bonner, Carrier and Cycle Agent
Sopwith Camel
Sopwith Camel
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Bonner, William

William Bonner
1914-1915 Star
1914/15 Star
Victory Medal
Victory Medal
British War Medal
British War Medal
Second Lieutenant William Bonner (Officer)
Killed in Action on Wednesday 19th June 1918
Air Crash on aerodrome, aged 21
Son of William & Annie Bonner
Father's occupation: Cycle Agent & Carrier
Born 29th August 1896 at Ascot
1 brother, position in family: 1
Infant School:Hurst Infants
Senior School:Hurst Boys
Admitted:Wednesday 1st April 1903
Age on admission:6
Left school:Monday 10th January 1910
Age at leaving:13
Local address: Claremont Villa, Hurst
Pre-war occupation: Clerk, Huntley & Palmers
Enlisted:Thursday 20th August 1914
Regiment:Royal Air Force
Battalion:3 Squadron
Previous units:5th Bn Cameron Highlanders
3rd Bn King's Own (Royal Lancasters)
Went overseas:Monday 10th May 1915
Died:Wednesday 19th June 1918
Cause:Killed in Action
Action:Air Crash on aerodrome
Battalion at:Valheuroux
Commemorated:Grave at Bagneux British Cemetery, Gezaincourt, Somme

William Bonner was born in Ascot on 29th August 1896 to William and Annie Bonner, and was their oldest son. In 1901 he was living in Hinton Road, Hurst with his parents and younger brother. He attended Hurst Infants School and his father was a carrier. At the age of six William became a pupil in Hurst Boys School, leaving at thirteen in January 1910.

In February 1913 William got a job as a clerk in the Foreign Department of Huntley and Palmers Ltd in Reading. At the time he was living with his parents in Claremont Villa, Hurst. William left his job on 19th August 1914 to join the army. He was assigned to the 5th Battalion of the Cameron Highlanders and after training at Bordon Camp, the Battalion embarked for France on 10th May 1915. They crossed from Folkestone to Boulogne aboard the troop ships S.S. Victoria and S.S. Invictor. William rose to the rank of Serjeant with the Camerons and on 31st July 1917 he received a commission as Second Lieutenant with 3rd King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment. The details of William's army service are unknown but he was among those listed as wounded in the Reading Standard.

William subsequently transferred to the newly formed RAF on 17th April 1918 and was sent to No. 65 Flying Training School. William completed his training successfully and on 9th June 1918 he joined 3 Squadron as a Flying Officer. 3 Squadron had been deployed in France since the outbreak of hostilities and was a fighter/scout unit flying Sopwith Camels. When William joined the Squadron it was based at Valheureux in the Somme region, about 15 miles north of Amiens. Its main duties at this time were wireless interception and close offensive patrols over the front line.

William had only been with the Squadron for ten days when he died on 19th June 1918. He is listed in the squadron records as 'Accidentally Killed' and the War Diary for the day briefly explains the circumstances:

3 Squadron Valheureux 19/6/18
Weather "dud". Practice flying 2 hours. Lieut. Bonner crashed on aerodrome and was killed. Practice flying 2 hours.

William did not feature in any 'Combats in the Air' reports and so probably had not encountered the enemy during his short time with the Squadron. William was only twenty-one years old when he died and now rests in a Commonwealth war grave in the Bagneux British Cemetery, about four miles from 3 Squadron's base at Valheureux.


William Bonnet at Bagneux British Cemetery, Gezaincourt, Somme
Bagneux British Cemetery, Gezaincourt, Somme
Absent in body
but present in spirit

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in morning
We will remember them.
Lawrence Binyon