HERBERT BONNETT was born on the 11 July 1896 in Barrack Road, Great Waltham, the son of John and Sarah Bonnett (née Tunbridge). His parents were married on the 20 October 1877 in the Parish Church in Great Waltham. John was 20 years old and a Labourer and Sarah of full age and were both residing in Great Waltham at the time of their marriage.
MARRIAGE OF JOHN BONNETT & SARAH TUNBRIDGE
PARISH CHURCH GREAT WALTHAM
SARAH AND JOHN BONNETT
Herbert was the youngest of eight children. His elder siblings were Emily b. 6 December 1877, Florence (Florie) b. 16 January 1880, Ethel b.1882, Alice Mary b.11 February 1885, Walter John b. December 1887, Nelly b. 17 August 1890 and Lilian b. 9 May 1893.
BAPTISM HERBERT BONNETT
Herbert was baptised on the 6 September 1896 in the Parish Church at Great Waltham by the Vicar, Revd. H E Hulton.
HERBERT ATTENDED GREAT WALTHAM SCHOOL EARLY 1900s
In 1881 the Census shows John and Sarah were living at Howe Street, Great Waltham, with Emily, aged 3 years and Flora (Florence) aged 1 year. His father was working as an Agricultural Labourer. By 1891 the family had moved to Barrack Road and their family had grown with the addition of Ethel, Alice Mary, Walter John and Nellie, the youngest child at 7 months.
In 1901 the family were living at Breeds and John was an Ordinary Agricultural Worker. By now there were eight children, Lilian, born in 1893 and Herbert now 4 years old. Sarah’s father Samuel Tunbridge was also staying with the family.
The 1911 Census shows only Herbert living with his parents at Breeds, Great Waltham and he was employed, aged 14 years as a Grocer’s Assistant.
Herbert enlisted initially into the Essex Regiment, Regiment No. 3397, where he served with a service battalion and then was subsequently posted to a regular battalion, The Royal Sussex Regiment, 2nd Battalion possibly around 1916, as a Private, Regimental No. G/14660.
When Britain went to war with Germany in August 1914, the Regimental number series was prefixed with the letter G/ for Recruits to the service battalions, joining up for war-time service only and continued for men enlisting with the Queen's under regular enlistment terms of service.
The Royal West Sussex Regiment 2nd Battalion, as part of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, crossed the Channel with the 1st Division in August 1914 and remained in France for the four years of hostilities during which it lost 1,723 officers and other ranks killed in action or died of wounds.
In September 1916 the Battalion were fighting at Becourt Wood to High Wood (Right). On the 9th September the Battalion with the 1st and 3rd Brigade attacked to capture the German trench in High Wood and to the east. They advanced steadily and in ‘splendid order’. By dark, several prisoners were taken and one massive gun was secured by the Battalion Scout Sergeant. They managed to maintain the ground captured and on the 12th September the Battalion left Becourt Wood and marched via Albert to Baizieux, about 8 miles. They camped in the wood near the village. They moved into a field to camp on the 13th using tents that had become available and this was a great improvement. The Battalion rested and had physical training and inter-Company Football matches. On the 19th the Division was required in the front line again and they moved up and they marched via Henencourt and Albert to Becourt Wood where they camped on the 20th – 21st. The weather was very wet. The enemy shelled the wood and 7 horses were killed and 4 wounded. The Battalion left Becourt Wood on the 25th and moved up in front of High Wood to the Starfish line. The Germans were attacked again on the 27th and by the end of that night there were 21 killed, 99 wounded and 36 missing.
Death and Memorial
Herbert was killed in action and was probably one of the missing listed on the 28th September 1916.
CHELMSFORD CHRONICLE 8 DECEMBER 1916
He is ‘Remembered with Honour’ on the Thiepval Memorial, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, and built between 1928 and 1932. The Memorial was unveiled on the 1st August 1932, by the Prince of Wales. The Thiepval Memorial is on the D73, next to the village of Thiepval, off the main Bapaume to Albert road (D929) in the Somme, France.
Pier and Face 7C Thiepval Memorial
Herbert is also remembered on the War Memorial in Great Waltham.
WEST END KERBSTONE ON JOHN & SARAH BONNETT'S GRAVE
GREAT WALTHAM CHURCHYARD (NO. 188)
Sarah, his mother was his next of kin and she received the total sum of £2.17s.9d on the 7th March 1917 with a further War Gratuity payment on the 3rd October 1919 of £5.10s..
Herbert was awarded the Victory Medal and the British Medal.