First World War Victoria Cross drummer soldier is honoured by his home town of Stowmarket

The Rev Michael Eden with Caroline Little and Stephen Barker, grandchildren of Spencer John Bent VC

The Rev Michael Eden with Caroline Little and Stephen Barker, grandchildren of Spencer John Bent VC MM, whose commemorative stone was unveiled by the new Memorial Clock dedicated in the Market Place - Credit: Archant

The grandchild of a Victoria Cross-winning First World War soldier has spoken of the “honour” he felt when he unveiled a paving stone to commemorative his grandfather’s bravery.

Spencer John Bent

Spencer John Bent

Spencer John Bent, from Stowmarket, won the highest military medal for heroism for his actions during the first Battle of Ypres.

Spencer John Bent was born in Stowmarket on March, 18, 1891

Spencer John Bent was born in Stowmarket on March, 18, 1891

On Remembrance Sunday, his family were invited to a ceremony in the town centre to officially unveil the stone.

Drummer Bent’s grandchildren, Stephen Barker and Caroline Little, visited with their partners. Mr Barker, 51, said: “I think we felt really proud, perhaps that’s not the word, but I feel as if he would have been absolutely delighted because he was quite a quiet man in many ways, he kept himself to himself.

“He had fond memories of his formative years in Stowmarket but then he joined the Army and it took over from there. Winning the VC clearly changed his life at quite a young age; he went from a hard-working man to being a commissioned soldier. He had to go to the war as a drummer boy as that was the only position available to him at his age.”

Drummer Bent was recognised for the VC for no less than three separate acts of bravery.

His acts of fearlessness included dragging a wounded man to safety under heavy fire and assuming command of a body of men who had started to retreat under a false order.

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Mr Barker added: “Coming to Stowmarket put everything into context for me; I was overcome with what he had done, what he had done was quite outstanding.

“I came away absolutely honoured to feel that Stowmarket was paying so much of a tribute to him, it’s very moving.”

The paving stones are being unveiled across the country in a Government-backed project for VC-winning soldiers.

Town clock

To mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, a commemorative clock has been launched.

The impressive structure, which stands at around 18ft, greets shoppers as they enter the Market Place in Stowmarket.

The town council devised the project, which had a construction cost of £10,000.

Beneath the clock lies the new paving stone, dedicated to Spencer John Bent, who won the Victoria Cross.

David Blackburn, town clerk, said: “We have had excellent feedback about the clock project and it was wonderful for it to be unveiled on Remembrance Sunday as a commemoration of the outbreak of the First World War.” A new plaque was also unveiled listing the men who died during the war but were not on the previous one.

For more on Suffolk’s Remembrance Day commemorations, see here