George Vernon BONNER
Rank: Private
Number: 148155
Unit: 78th Battalion (Manitoba Regiment) Canadian Infantry
Date of Death: 14 October 1916
Age: 31 (approx)
Cemetery: Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France

George was born in the Greenwich area of London on 6 March 1885. His parents were William (a railway clerk) and Emma. In 1901, when the national census was taken, the family had moved to Banbury. George, then 16, was working as a telegraph messenger. His older brother, Thomas James, was a baker. They had a number of younger siblings: Eric (14), Elizabeth (12), Francis Edward (10), Winifred (7) and Gertrude (4).

By 1915, the family was living locally at 108 Stockport Road, Bredbury. George, however, had emigrated to Canada by this time, settling in Manitoba where he was working as a farmhand. On 6 August, he went to the recruiting office at the nearby town of Birtle and joined the army. His papers, which can be viewed on-line at the Canadian National Archives, show him to be just over 5 feet 8 inches tall with a 36 inch chest. He had a sallow complexion with grey eyes and brown hair. George had recorded that his religious denomination was Church of England.

After training in Canada and the UK, the Battalion arrived in France on 13 August 1916.

Saturday, 14 October was an overcast day – a typical autumn day with temperatures in the mid-50s Fahrenheit. The Battle of the Somme had started on 1 July and this was one of its relatively quiet days. There were small local attacks along the line of the front, but the Canadians were not involved. George and his comrades were based at a tented camp at a position known as Tara Hill, near Ovillers. When not required to man the front line trenches, men would be put to work carrying stores, digging trenches, etc. On this occasion, the whole Battalion was assisting the Royal Engineers. The Battalion’s War Diary records that reports were received that there had been “some mis-understanding between Engineers and guides, as several of the parties were practically lost”. Perhaps the diary author is trying to hint that some of the men were accidentally led onto more dangerous areas and this accounts for his other entry that eight men had been killed, 25 wounded and one officer was missing. George was one of the men killed. He is buried nearby.

   
           
   
     
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