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Canadian Virtual War Memorial

John Willard Bonner

In memory of:

Lieutenant Commander John Willard Bonner

September 11, 1942

Near Cap Chat, St. Lawrence, Quebec

Military Service


Age:

44

Force:

Navy

Unit:

Royal Canadian Navy Reserve

Division:

H.M.C.S. Charlottetown

Citation(s):

1939-45 Star, Atlantic Star, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp, War Medal 1939-45.

Additional Information


Born:

January 5, 1898
Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia

Enlistment:

September 18, 1939
Halifax, Nova Scotia

Son of the late Robert and Ellen Bonner. Brother of Wendall, Thomas, May and Eleanor. Husband of Mary Bonner and father of Moira Marilyn of Halifax, Nova Scotia. In peacetime LCdr Bonner served as a marine officer with the RCMP.

HMCS Charlottetown was sunk by the German submarine U-517 in the waters of the St. Lawrence near Cape Chat, Quebec, on 11 September 1942. Nine of her 64 crew members were lost when the Flower Class corvette was torpedoed, including the captain. After the ship was torpedoed, Bonner's men searched desperately for their commander's body as they picked up surviving crew members. They did eventually find him and were able to pull him into a rescue boat. In order to have room to manoeuvre the oars, the crew had to tie his remains to the boat's rudder and it was a struggle as they tried to row for shore. As fate would have it, rather than prevent the men from getting to shore, the rudder was pulled off the boat and Lieutenant Commander Bonner's body disappeared into the mist. 'The Charlottetown Guardian, June 3, 2002.

Commemorated on Page 73 of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Honour Roll Book.

Commemorated on Page 59 of the Second World War Book of Remembrance. Request a copy of this page.

Burial Information


Cemetery:

HALIFAX MEMORIAL
Nova Scotia, Canada

Grave Reference:

Panel 6.

Location:

The HALIFAX MEMORIAL in Nova Scotia's capital, erected in Point Pleasant Park, is one of the few tangible reminders of the men who died at sea. Twenty-four ships were lost by the Royal Canadian Navy in the Second World War and nearly 2,000 members of the RCN lost their lives. This Memorial was erected by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and was unveiled in November 1967 with naval ceremony by H.P. MacKeen, Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia, in the presence of R. Teillet, then Minister of Veterans Affairs. The monument is a great granite Cross of Sacrifice over 12 metres high, clearly visible to all ships approaching Halifax. The cross is mounted on a large podium bearing 23 bronze panels upon which are inscribed the names of over 3,000 Canadian men and women who were buried at sea. The dedicatory inscription, in French and English, reads as follows:

1914-1939
1918-1945
IN THE HONOUR OF
THE MEN AND WOMEN
OF THE NAVY
ARMY AND MERCHANT NAVY
OF CANADA
WHOSE NAMES
ARE INSCRIBED HERE
THEIR GRAVES ARE UNKNOWN
BUT THEIR MEMORY
SHALL ENDURE.

On June 19, 2003, the Government of Canada designated September 3rd of each year as a day to acknowledge the contribution of Merchant Navy Veterans.

Information courtesy of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Digital Collection

Send us your images
  • Newspaper Clipping– Memorialized on the pages of the Globe and Mail. Submitted for the project, Operation Picture Me
  • Photo of JOHN WILLARD BONNER– Submitted for the project, Operation Picture Me
  • Newspaper clipping– From the Toronto Star September 1942. Submitted for the project Operation Picture Me
  • Newspaper Clipping– From the Ottawa Citizen. Submitted for the project, Operation: Picture Me

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