With the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme this July we know that thousands of men lost their lives during this horrific battle on the Western Front – many Framlingham families were affected, including the Bonney family whose son Herbert, aged 25, was killed in action on 1st July 1916 the first day of the British Offensive.
Lance Sergeant Herbert Philip Bonney 9765 of the 2nd Battalion Essex Regiment was the son of Arthur and Ellen Bonney (nee Last) who for many years ran Bonney’s Bakery in Wells Close Square in Framlingham.
Herbert had eleven siblings Ellen, Florence, Ernest, Stanley, Arthur, Mabel, Elsie, Frederick, Thomas, Reginald and Sidney and the 1901 census records the family living at the bakery at Fern Bank in Albert Place Framlingham with Herbert aged 10Report from Framlingham Weekly News – 29th July 1916:
We also record this week with much regret the death of Lce-Sergt. H. P. Bonney, which took place on July 1st – the first day of the British offensive, in which his Regiment was engaged. Bertie (as his birthplace best knew him) was in the Regular forces when war began and accompanied one of the first drafts of the Expeditionary Force to France. He had consequently seen considerable fighting and experienced many hairbreadth escapes and it was hoped that the good luck with which he seemed to have been endowed would accompany him to the end. But relentless fate decreed otherwise. On behalf of our readers we beg to express sincere sympathy with the parents and relatives of the above mentioned.
Herbert was a regular bell ringer at Framlingham and is commemorated on the Roll of Honour of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers, which is held at St Paul’s Cathedral in London. The Ringing World newspaper of 4th September 1914 records that he was already serving with 2nd Essex, and that his two brothers Lance-Corporal Ernest Bonney and Private Reginald Bonney were both serving with the 4th Suffolk’s.
One year later the family placed the following notice:
Framlingham Weekly News – Saturday 30th June 1917
Herbert is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial in France and the Framlingham War Memorial.