Claude Yves Bonneau was born on October 13, 1929, at Beaulieu-sous- Bressuire, Deux Sèvres, France.
Around the age of twenty, when he could legally carry a war weapon, he volunteered to go to the front in the Indochina War. There, he joined the GCMA (the Airborne Combined Commando Unit), commanded by Colonel Trinquier. By dint of participation in commando operations, he gathered experience and was commended twice.
At the outbreak of the Algerian War, he was serving as the head of the radio unit within the 8th motorized infantry regiment. But early 1959, when the Cobra Commando was formed in the Saïda sector, he volunteered to join it.
Owing to his experience and qualities of frontline fighter, he was appointed to head Cobra 3.
In the months that followed, thanks to his charisma, outstanding intrepidity and physical resistance which sort of iconized him, Bonneau masterfully goaded his men during fierce confrontations against rebel groups.
In March 1959, under rather difficult conditions, he had to relieve his captain who had seriously been wounded. In June 1959, he took an entire katiba in action off guard. The relative numeric handicap of his commando did not deter him from attacking and immobilizing the enemy while waiting for backup. The rebel unit suffered heavy casualties and was completely annihilation at the end of the operation.
In April 1960, at the forefront of his unit, he charged with crazy audacity against a katiba which was armed with a machine gun and other deadly weapons, and which used natural entrenchments as its protection. In the course of the rather fierce confrontations which culminated in hand-to-hand combat, he received a bullet on his lower abdomen, but resolutely continued to mastermind operations till an enemy section was crushed.
This last demonstration of heroism unfortunately had to cost the life of Warrant Officer Bonneau. Rushed to the Colomb Béchar military hospital, he finally gave up the ghost on April 10, 1960, as a result of his injuries. He died barely a few months away to his 31st birthday.
This volunteer serviceman, who received six commendations (two with bars), was Knight of the Legion of Honour, and holder of the military medal, the T.O.E War Cross, the Military Valour Cross, and a host of other distinctions.
He gave his name to a batch of non-commissioned officers from the Issoire military academy, ENTSOA.