King Edward’s School and the Great War

Memorial Roll of Honour 1914 - 1918


Bonner, Augustine

Flying Officer ▪ Royal Flying Corps

Augustine, ‘Austin’, Bonner, born on 13th January 1897, was admitted to King Edward’s School in September 1907. His father, the Reverend Henry Bonner, was deceased. He lived with his mother Margaret at 31, Radnor Road, Handsworth. His brother, George Henry, also an Old Edwardian, served in and survived the war but sadly committed suicide in 1929.

Upon leaving School, Augustine became a student at the Birmingham School of Art. In August 1914, he enlisted in the 14th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and was gazetted as a Second Lieutenant to the South Staffordshire Regiment a few months later. He was wounded on the Somme in April 1916 and invalided home. Upon his return to France in September the same year, he was attached to the Royal Flying Corps as an observer, and was killed in aerial action during an attack by five enemy machines at Fampoux on 30th April 1917, aged twenty, having reached the rank of Flying Officer. His Commanding Officer wrote: “I cannot tell you what a loss it will be to the Squadron: he was such a first-class fellow, and one of our very best observers. He had the very great quality of being really efficient and unassuming at the same time.” He is buried in Feuchy British Cemetery, France.

Augustine’s brother, George, was invalided home in 1916, receiving treatment at Craiglockhart Hospital in Scotland (although not at the same time as its two most famous patients, Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon). George was a poet, and edited The Hyrda: The Magazine of Craiglockhart War Hospital, in 1918, the magazine previously edited by Owen. George was also held in high regard by members of Tolkien’s clique, the TCBS, though no record has been left to confirm whether or not George was actually admitted to the ‘charmed circle’.

Note: GH Bonner’s son, Austin Ralph Bonner, was named after two OEs who died in the war:

His uncle, Augustine or Austin

Ralph Payton (OE, who had been engaged to marry Eleanor Ford. Eleanor married GH Bonner in 1921)

In his naming, Austin Ralph Bonner was doubly marked by the war’s tragedy and by his parents’ loss.