1/5th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders
Killed in Action, 23rd July 1918
From Belfast, Aged 19
William Bonnar was born in Belfast Co. Antrim. He joined the army in Belfast and was posted to the 1/5th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders.
In July 1918 the 1/5th were fighting alongside the French near Chalons in the final battles of the war. At 0800hrs on the 21st July, the 5th Seaforth Highlanders and the 6th Gordon’s advanced into the Bois de Coutron which was strongly held by the enemy. An advance of 400yards was achieved and the line consolidated.
At 0630hrs on the 23rd, in the open ground near Bullin Farm, with its right flank on the River, the 1/5th attacked again with the 6th Seaforth’s on their left. As they moved across the river they were met with enfilade machine gun fire, but this was overcome using the bayonet. Six machine guns were captured and their crews destroyed.
On the 23rd July, during this battle, William Bonnar, aged nineteen was killed and later buried in Marfaux Cemetery. This Cemetery had been captured by the Germans in May 1918, but was retaken after severe fighting on the day William Bonnar was killed.
On the 28th July the battalion was relieved and moved back to Bullin Farm. During the eight days of the heaviest fighting ever experienced by the 1/5th Seaforth Highlanders, the casualties had been;
OFFICERS: 7 Killed, 8 Wounded
OTHER RANKS: 67 Killed, 275 Wounded
William was one of the 67 dead soldiers listed
During this attack, two soldiers earned the Distinguished Conduct Medal, and on the 28th September 1918, William Bonnar was posthumously awarded the Military Medal for gallantry in the action at which he fell.
His next of kin were listed as his parents, George & Helen Bonnar, who lived at 2 Oldpark Village, Belfast.
“YE SHALL DIE LIKE MEN
AND FALL LIKE
ONE OF THE PRINCES”