Lt. John Alexander Bonvin (aka Jean Alexandre Bonvin)

(S/N 109543)

Lt. John Alexander Bonvin, formerly of the 6th Battalion The Loyal (North Lancashire) Regiment, served with No.6 Commando from November 11th 1940; he served with No.5 Troop of No.6 Commando

Lt. John Alexander Bonvin (real name Jean Alexandre Bonvin) was born in London on February 2nd 1919 to Swiss parents (Candide and Alice Bonvin). He held dual British/Swiss Nationality. He was trained as a bank clerk.

On August 23rd 1938, he enlisted for four years in the Territorial Army as a private in the Artists Rifles of the London Rifle Brigade. As he was also a Swiss national, special permission to serve had to be sought from the War Office. Permission to join up was granted on October 15th 1938.

On September 2nd 1939, John was called up and immediately posted to 163 Officer Cadet Training Unit.

He passed out on December 16th 1939 and was granted a commission as a second Lieutenant in the 6th Battalion of The Loyal (North Lancashire) Regiment on December 19th 1939.

On October 28th 1940, he was posted to No 6 Commando. He joined No 5 Special Service Battalion (as No 6 Commando was then called) on November 11th 1940.

He served continuously with the Unit until his death.

On 20th February 1942, Lt. John Bonvin was sent on a “special” demolitions course – which was the initial training for both the Operation Chariot and Operation Myrmidon large scale raids. Later, Lt. John Bonvin was in charge of a demolitions unit for the Operation Chariot raid on St. Nazaire – but couldn’t  land as the Motor Launch (ML443) that they were travelling on could not make the landing on the ‘Old Mole’. Taking some damage ML443 escaped back to England.

Lt. John Bonvin was Killed In Action (KIA) on 26th February 1943, during heavy fighting with the German 5th Parachute Regiment, whilst leading a reconnaissance patrol near Kef-El-Akab on the ‘Green Patch’ in North Africa. His dawn patrol was ambushed by the German paratroopers of either the 1st or 3rd Koch Battalions, as it left the No.6 Commando encampment.

He was laid to rest in Medjez-El-Bab Memorial Cemetery (Tunisia) Grave 5.G.20.

Picture courtesy of Philippe Bonvin

Picture was taken in 1940.
Picture is believed to have been taken in September 1941.