Featured East Midlands Victoria Cross Recipients 

We believe that the bravery of those who have fought for our country should never be forgotten. Remembrance forms a large part of our work, and whilst it would be impossible to tell the story of each and every member of the armed forces from the region who have served in conflicts, we have decided to feature just some of those stories from those servicemen from the First World War who were awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) during that conflict. 

The VC is the highest award of the British honours system. It is awarded for gallantry "in the presence of the enemy" to members of the British armed forces.

We will be adding to our list over the coming weeks and months.

 

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Born in Halifax in Canada, Philip Bent moved to Leicestershire in 1901. He was educated at Ashby de la Zouch Grammar School from 1904-1907, where he was head boy. He was also educated at Royal High School, Edinburgh, Scotland, which was also attended by Harcus Strachan VC. Philip joined HMS Conway, the Merchant Navy training ship in the Mersey, in 1909 to gain sea-going experience and education. He was a senior cadet captain and a boxing champion in his last year. In December 1910 he left to become an apprentice on the steel four masted barque “Vimeria”, and qualified as a 2nd mate in early 1914.

 

He transferred to the Leicestershire Regiment on 5th July 1916. He joined 9th Battalion as Temporary Major and second in command. He was wounded in September, and was also hit in the neck on 17th October, which saw him out of duty for a week. In February 1917 he was promoted to temporary Lieutenant Colonel. He was then awarded the DSO in the Birthday Honours on 4th June 1917.

 

On 1st October 1917, east of Polygon Wood, Zonnebeke, Belgium, 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. Lt. Col. Bent personally collected a platoon that was in reserve, and together with men from other companies and various regimental details, he organised and led them 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 Lt.-Col. 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."

Sadly his body was never recovered, and he is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium.

Leicestershire

Lieutenant Colonel Philip Eric Bent VC, DSO (3 January 1891 – 1 October 1917)

© 2018 by East Midlands War Memorials Association.