War hero honoured in hometown

A WAR hero who was awarded the Victoria Cross at the age of just 23 has been honoured in his hometown nearly a century later. A plaque to Regimental Sergeant Major Spencer Bent was unveiled in Stowmarket yesterday, during a moving ceremony.

By John Howard

A WAR hero who was awarded the Victoria Cross at the age of just 23 has been honoured in his hometown nearly a century later.

A plaque to Regimental Sergeant Major Spencer Bent was unveiled in Stowmarket yesterday, during a moving ceremony.

The First World War hero was decorated after rescuing a fallen comrade from the field of battle in Belgium on November 3, 1914, while under heavy fire.

He volunteered to try to aid the injured man and was shot in the leg during the daring escapade, which took him 25 yards out into No Man's Land.

RSM Bent was born in the town in 1891 and his grandparents were landlords at The Pickerel Inn in Stowupland Street, where the plaque has been placed.

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He joined the East Lancashire Regiment as a 14-year-old drummer in 1905 and continued to serve with the Army after the war, rising to regimental sergeant major, before leaving in 1925.

On one occasion, with his commanding officer and sergeant killed or down, he took charge of the platoon and held the position they had won.

Yesterday's ceremony included the plaque being unveiled by a member of Mr Bent's family, a wreath laying, a performance of the Last Post and a guard of honour dressed in First World War uniforms.

Town mayor Gordon Paton said: “It was a very moving occasion. It's important to remember the town's sons.

“RSM Bent was a man who not only won the VC, but the Military Medal later on.

“He was a very formidable man. It's important to remember what people have done in the past, to give us our freedom today.

“It was a great honour to be part of the ceremony and very humbling.''

After his military service, RSM Bent ran a pub called The Victoria Cross in Kent. He died in 1977, at the age of 86.

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