Winfield Bonser was born in Singapore and was admitted to as a Queen’s Scholar in January 1900. In his second term, he competed as a member of the College tug-of-war team, weighing 10st 3lb. He also took part in Cricket and Football, and was a member of the Debating Society.
As a Scholar, Bonser was amongst the Westminster pupils invited to the Coronation of King Edward VII on 9th August 1902, where he would have joined in the tradition of shouting “Vivat Rex!” The Coronation Song Book for the service describes how “these vociferous exclamations have been incorporatedÔÇª in a somewhat novel manner, as the Westminster boys, stationed aloft, sing their enthusiastic manifestations of loyalty”. The Captain of the King’s Scholars at the time, G.T. Boag, was unimpressed with such novelty, reporting in The Captain’s Book that “the acclamations for some unearthly reason were set to music and stuck into the midst of an anthem.”
After leaving the School, Bonser was admitted as a pensioner to Christ’s College Cambridge in October 1904, and became a scholar in November 1906. He achieved a 1st Class in the Classical Tripos, and went on to train as a barrister. He was called to the bar at Inner Temple on 28th June 1911. On the outbreak of war, he joined the Inns of Court OTC, and received a commission in the Rifle Brigade in September 1914.
Over the course of the next six months, Bonser rose through the ranks, becoming a Captain the following March. In July 1915, he went out to the western front, landing in Boulogne.
The day before Bonser died, the battalion moved out of their billets in Laventie. He was killed in action at Fauquissart, near Estaires, on the first day of the Battle of Loos.