Sadie Bonnell

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Sadie Bonnell
Born (1888-06-04)June 4, 1888
Died September 2, 1993(1993-09-02) (aged 105)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch 25px First Aid Nursing Yeomanry
Unit Canadian Army Service Corps
Battles/wars First World War
Awards Military Medal

Sadie Bonnell MM (June 4, 1888 – September 2, 1993) was a FANY ambulance driver in the First World War who won the Military Medal.


Sadie Bonnell was educated at Bedales, the first co-educational school in England. After leaving school she lived at home and, as she recalled, "looked after the servants, that kind of thing". At the outbreak of the First World War, when she was 26, she joined First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) as an ambulance driver. The FANYs had been founded in 1907 as an all-women mounted volunteer Corps.

Though the FANYs were ready in 1914, the War Office remained sceptical. Rejected as a British Army ambulance driver, Sadie Bonnell joined the Canadian Army Service Corps. At the time she earned the Military Medal in 1915, she was based in a large camp on the road to Arques in France. She collected wounded men from a dressing station under heavy German bombardment, with Evelyn Brown, a volunteer Canadian. The enemy's shells had set a nearby ammunition dump on fire. She returned again and again, succeeding in removing all the wounded. She was decorated by the commander of British Second Army, General Sir Herbert Plumer, 1st Viscount Plumer with the Military Medal.

She also was reported as showing courage during the East End Air Raid. She drove an ambulance in 1916 during some of the first air raids London experienced. She was one of the first women to drive an open-topped sports car around Europe. She loved fast cars and between the wars drove a six-cylinder AC with a red fish mascot on the bonnet.

She married Herbert Marriott (either in 1919, according to her obituary in the Daily Telegraph or on 01.09.1916, according to the Bonnell Genealogy Family Tree), but he died in 1921 during the influenza pandemic.

She spent the Second World War in Sussex and knew A. A. Milne and his son, Christopher Robin. She later married Charles Leslie Talbot in 1948. He died in 1967. She had no children.

She adored spending time in trees on platforms she had built herself, and continued doing so until well into her eighties. She designed and had built a house called "Thrushling". After she sold it she revisited it and reviled the owners for covering her beautiful parquet floor with a carpet. She spent her final years at Dorset House, Droitwich. She received a telegram from the Queen on her hundredth birthday on 4 June 1988. She died on 2 September 1993. Her obituary appeared in the Daily Telegraph and The Times the next day.