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Bent, Philip Eric - VC DSO
Rank : Lieutenant Colonel
Unit : 7th Bn, 9th Bn
Educated at the Royal High School, Edinburgh, and at the Boys' Grammar School, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, Philip Bent he joined HMS Conway as a cadet in 1909 and left in December 1910 to serve his apprenticeship with J Hardie and Co of Glasgow, joining the sailing ship 'Vimeira'. He qualified as a Second Mate in 1914. He was ashore when the First World War broke out, and enlisted as a Private in A Company, 15th (1st Edinburgh) Bn The Royal Scots on 2.10.1914.
On 5.12.1914 he was commissioned Temp 2nd Lieutenant in The Leicestershire Regiment and was posted initially to 7th Bn. Promoted Lieutenant on 1.6.1915, he transferred to 9th Bn in July 1915. After 9 months of home-based training at Aldershot and on Salisbury Plain, 9th Leicesters proceeded to France in the summer of 1915 as part of 110th (Leicestershire) Brigade; Philip Bent arrived in France on 31.8.1915. Promoted Lieutenant about March 1916 (antedated 6.6.1915), Captain 7.7.1916 (antedated 15.4.1916), and Major 30.8.1916 (antedated 13.7.1916). He was granted a permanent commission in The Bedfordshire Regiment on 3.5.1916 (with seniority from 4.4.1916), but remained with 9th Leicesters. Promoted Temporary Major and appointed 2IC 9th Leicesters on 13.7.1916. Wounded on 29.9.1916 but remained at duty. Gazetted Acting Lieutenant Colonel on 6.9.1916. Gun shot wound to the neck on 17.10.1916 and, via 7th Stationary Hospital at Boulonge, returned to duty eight days later. Promoted Temporary Lieutenant Colonel 1.2.1917 (antedated 26.10.1916). Granted a permanent commission in The Leicestershire Regiment on 24.2.1917 (with seniority from 30.8.1915). His service in 9th Leicesters included battles at Bazentin Le Petit (14.7.1916), Gueudecourt (25.9.1916), and Fontaine-lez-Croiselles (3.5.1917). He was awarded the D.S.O. as 2nd Lt. (temp. Maj. and actg. Lt.-Col.) (L.G. 4.6.1917) and was twice Mentioned in Despatches (L.G. 15.6.1916 and 22.5.1917). Wounded near Ypres on 29.9.1917 but remained on duty. While commanding 9th Leicesters at Polygon Wood, on the Gheluvelt Plateau near Ypres in Belgium, on 1.10.1917 he was Killed in Action, aged 26 years.
He was awarded a posthumous V.C. (L.G. 11.1.1918), the citation for which is "2Lt (T/Lt Col) P E Bent. For most conspicuous bravery, when during a heavy hostile attack, the right of his own command and the Battalion on his right were forced back. The situation was critical owing to the confusion caused by the attack and the intense artillery fire. Lieutenant Colonel Bent personally collected a platoon that was in reserve, and together with men from other companies and various regimental details, he organised and led forward to the counter attack, after issuing orders to other officers as to the further defence of the line. The counter attack was successful and the enemy were checked. The coolness and magnificent example shown to all ranks by Lieutenant Colonel Bent resulted in the securing of a portion of the line which was of essential importance for subsequent operations. This very gallant officer was killed whilst leading a charge which he inspired with the call of 'Come on the Tigers'."
He has no known grave. He is commemorated on the memorial wall at Tyne Cot Cemetery, Belgium; on the school memorial plates at the Royal High School Edinburgh (he was there 1902-3); on the war memorial at Ashby-de-la-Zouch Grammar School, Leicestershire; on the memorial in the grounds of St Alban's Church, Hindhead, Surrey, his mother's village; on the Honours Board in the Memorial Chapel at HMS Conway, Birkenhead Priory, The Wirral. There is a VC Commemorative Plaque at the British High Commission, Elgin Street, Ottawa, Canada; and a VC Commemorative Paving Stone at the National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas, Staffordshire. The Army Museum in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada displays his portrait together with mementoes of his days on HMS Conway. In 1933 the 'Philip Bent Memorial Room' was dedicated at the Toc H Headquarters, Princess Road, Leicester. There is a road 'Philip Bent Road' named for him in Ashby-de-la-Zouch. On 1.10.2017 (the centenary of the action for which he was awarded the VC) a VC commemorative paving stone was dedicated at the War Memorial in Market Street, Ashby-de-la-Zouch. On the same day his biography "Come on The Tigers" (edited by local historian Ken Hillier) was published.
His sword was hung in St Helen's Church, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, in November 1918 on his mother's request - he had made his First Communion at that church. The sword was stolen in the 1970s.
His posthumous V.C., along with his D.S.O., was presented to his mother at Buckingham Palace on 2.3.1918. In 1923 Mrs Bent presented her son's medals (VC, DSO, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, British Victory Medal) to his former school, Ashby-de-la-Zouch Grammar School "for safe-keeping and safe-guarding...to serve as a lasting stimulant to high ideals, to following generations." In 1972 the medals were permanently loaned to the Royal Leicestershire Regiment Museum.
There is more on Bent at http://www.victoriacrossonline.co.uk/philip-e-bent-vc/4585975735 and in the book "For Valour: Canadians and the Victoria Cross in the Great War" (ISBN 1459728491).
Date of Birth : 3.1.1891
Place of Birth : Halifax, Nova Scotia
Date of Death : 1.10.1917
Place of Death : Polygon Wood, nr Ypres, Belgium
Civil Occupation : Merchant Navy officer
Period of Service : 1914-17
Conflicts : WW1
Places Served : England, France & Flanders
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