Dedication Ceremony for Lieutenant Colonel Philip Bent VC

On Armistice Day 2021 a small gathering took place at Ashby Grammar School where the Royal Leicestershire Regimental Association presented the school with a replica set of medals won by a former pupil, Lieutenant Colonel Philip Bent VC, to comply with his Mother’s wishes.

Born in 1891 Philip Bent embarked in 1915 on active service to France with 9th Battalion The Leicestershire Regiment. In June 1917 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order as 2nd Lieutenant (Temporary Major, Acting Lieutenant Colonel) whilst in command of 9th Leicesters, for ‘distinguished conduct and devotion to meritorious service in the field’ leading his battalion at the Battle of Bullecourt and the period after. Even by the standards of the time, Philip Bent’s rise from platoon commander in 1915 leading some 35 men, to battalion commander in charge of over 600 men two years later, was remarkable and reflected well on his leadership, management and personality. In addition, Philip Bent was twice Mentioned in Despatches for service beyond the call of duty. On 1st October 1917, while commanding 9th Leicesters in the Battle of Passchendaele at Polygon Wood, near Ypres in Belgium, Philip Bent was Killed in Action. He was 26 years old.

For his outstanding valour in the face of the enemy Philip Bent was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross, but like so many who fought in the First World War, he has no known grave and he is commemorated on the memorial wall at Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in Belgium along with the names of nearly 35,000 others.

In Ashby de la Zouch, he is commemorated on the war memorial in Market Street where there is also a VC commemorative paving stone laid in his memory in 2017. “Philip Bent Road” leading off Moira Road was named after him and local historian Ken Hillier wrote his biography “Come on the Tigers” in the same year.

Governors and Teaching Staff welcomed members of the RTA, including Capt Tim Wilkes and Capt Ty Smith along with Lt Josh Kelly from B (Leics) Company 2 Royal Anglian and the Area Regimental Secretary, Major Tim Brown, to the School.

At the Presentation on 11th November, the Chairman of the RTA Capt TR Wilkes, concluded his address to the pupils of Ashby School with the following words: “Lieutenant Colonel Bent displayed many of the qualities of effective leadership to inspire those around him to succeed against the odds. He did so with selfless commitment and sadly made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of his country at war. In keeping with his mother’s wishes, this display is dedicated to the pupils of Ashby School, “to serve as a lasting stimulant to high ideals”, which remain as relevant today as they were over 100 years ago and for generations to come.”

The Presentation telling the story of Lt Col Philip Bent VC DSO including a replica medal set.