MOST people enjoy a lie in at the weekend, especially when you are in your 80s, but for Captain Robert Bonner an early morning call from his wife was most welcome.
Captain Bonner, aged 86, received an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to military heritage.
“I was still asleep at 7am on Saturday when my wife Verena brought in the Daily Telegraph with the part marked up about my inclusion in the honours,” said Captain Bonner.
“My wife was as thrilled as I am by the honour, and I have had lots of telephone messages and emails from regimental colleagues and friends from around the world offering their congratulations.”
Captain Bonner, who lives in Knutsford, served in the Manchester Regiment for 13 years before retiring from the Army in 1961 to take up a new career in advertising and marketing.
He continued to take an active part in the activities of the Regiment, particularly in the field of historical research and the development of the Museum of the Manchester Regiment and the Regimental Archive Collection.
He is chairman of the Manchester Regiment Museum Advisory Committee, and as chairman was instrumental in securing the future of the Regimental Collection by overseeing the re-housing of the Regimental Museum into Ashton-under-Lyne’s Victorian Town Hall.
He also saw the return of the Manchester Regiment Archive from Manchester Central Library.
An author and military historian, Captain Bonner has written 12 books, and the two books he is currently writing are based on the Pals Battalions in The First World War.
“I have been privileged to be associated with the British Army for more than 60 years, and it is pleasing to realise the public are increasingly interested in and supportive of its history and traditions,” he said.
Garry Smith, museums manager at Tameside Council, said: “It is through Captain Bonner’s unwavering passion for the history of the Regiment and its people that the Manchester Regimental Collection has thrived.
“Captain Bonner has been closely connected with the Manchester Regiment, its people, history, museum and archive for more than 60 years – long may this continue, and few Regimental collections could claim to have such a passionate and wise champion.
“His knowledge, grace and pragmatism have nurtured the happy relationship which the trustees of the museum have with the community at Tameside.”
Captain Bonner received another honour last October when he was presented with The Regimental Medal by his regiment.