Gorleston, Norfolk, England, UK
Army, Corporal, 1st Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment
5/28/2007, Helmand, Afghanistan
Darren was 31 years old serving in the 1st battalion of the Royal Anglian Regiment. He served with them for 14 years and loved his job. He was known by many names as you would expect in the Army, but some of those were “Big Daz” “Gentle Giant” “Kit-Kat” and many more. But to me he was my darling son, the eldest of 4 children and my only son.
He had a big heart and thought of everyone else before himself. He would help absolutely anyone and did on many occasions; including a group of U.S. soldiers which he received an American commendation for and met the soldiers he saved.
He was killed in Afghanistan on 28th May 2007, Bank Holiday Monday. He was travelling in a Viking which went over a secondary legacy mine which exploded on impact and Darren died instantly. He was the only person hurt in the accident.
Corporal ‘Big Daz’ Bonner, aged 31, was a larger than life figure who made a positive impact on everyone that he met. He was engaged to Becca and looking forward to the prospect of marriage and buying a home in Great Yarmouth after his tour of duty in Afghanistan.
He joined the Army in 1993 and served with the Regiment’s 2nd Battalion on operational deployments in Northern Ireland and the Balkans. In 2004 he moved across to the 1st Battalion and served as a key member of the Signals Platoon in Iraq in 2006.
Physically impressive, he was a keen weight lifter and night club bouncer in his spare time, but his robust exterior concealed a sensitive compassionate side and a heart of gold.
Darren was a devout Christian and had taken the lead in organizing a memorial for a recent fatality in A Company. He would regularly give up his time for others, teaching ‘Football in the Community’, or mentoring Army Cadets near his home town in Gorleston, Norfolk. He was also an avid Spurs fan, and made sure that everyone who met him was apprised of the fact.
Darren exuded energy and charisma; he always had a joke to tell or a story to recount, ensuring he was extremely popular with his wealth of friends. The night before his death he was seen reading the bible by his friends, drawing strength before facing the known dangers of the operation. He genuinely cared about the people of Afghanistan, and about his comrades that he fought with. It is, therefore, a source of some consolation to those who knew him that he died on operations courageously contributing to a noble cause; one that he cared about and believed in.
My darling son was no more. My whole life fell apart when he died; I didn’t want to continue life like that. I had no interest in carrying on, but I have 3 girls that needed their mum and grand kids too. I decided that I had to turn this tragedy around and create a positive from it. So I decided to fund raise for Darren’s regiment’s benevolent fund and that is what I did, organizing walks every year. The first year we walked 120 miles (2008) raising £35K, the second year we walked 150 miles (2009) raising £44k, and this year we are walking another 150 miles starting 16th July to 25th July. This provides money for serving solders and families that fall on hard times and veterans that may need help.
I will continue to do this every year until I cannot do it any longer (then my daughters may carry it on for me.)