Exceptional Naval and Polar Awards from the Collection of RC Witte

Date of Auction: 13th December 2007

Sold for £4,200

Estimate: £2,500 - £3,000

The Great War D.S.C. group of six awarded to Rear-Admiral E. R. Bent, Royal Navy, who was decorated for his gallantry ashore as a Naval Observation Officer in the Gallipoli operations, where he served from the first day of the landings - sometimes atop “Chocolate Hill”: having earlier survived the loss of the Ocean, he went on to be appointed a C.B. on the eve of the 1939-45 War, in which conflict he served as Chief of Staff to the C.-in-Cs Western Approaches and Plymouth

Distinguished Service Cross
, G.V.R., hallmarks for London 1916; 1914-15 Star (Lieut. E. R. Bent, R.N.); British War and Victory Medals (Lt. Commr. E. R. Bent, R.N.); Jubilee 1935; Coronation 1937, the 1914-15 Trio somewhat polished, thus nearly very fine, the remainder rather better (6) £2500-3000

Footnote

D.S.C. London Gazette 14 March 1916:

‘In recognition of services rendered between the time of the landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula in April 1915 and the evacuation in December 1915-January 1916 ... Lieutenant Bent has performed consistent good work as naval observation on shore from the first day of the landing.’

Eric Ritchie Bent was born in Tonbridge, Kent in September 1888 and entered the Royal Navy as a Naval Cadet in
Britannia in May 1903. Appointed a Midshipman in the battleship Illustrious in the Channel Squadron in September 1904, he was advanced to Lieutenant in November 1908 and was serving aboard the battleship Ocean on the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914.

Subsequently employed in the Dardanelles operations, he survived the mining and loss of the Ocean on 18 March 1915, but not before having won a commendation for his control and spotting work during the earlier bombardments of the forts. Given temporary berths in the Queen Elizabeth and Lord Nelson, Bent came ashore on the very first day of the Gallipoli landings and stayed similarly employed until the evacuation, serving with distinction as a Naval Observation Officer on the right flank. A fellow officer later recalled that in September 1915, while spotting for the Prince George, Bent was ‘ensconced on Chocolate Hill’, where he was ‘shelled all day’.

Following the evacuation of the Peninsula, he served briefly in the Albion before removing on gunnery duty to another battleship, the Agamemnon, in March 1916, in which he served until January 1918, a period that witnessed her lending support to the Salonika operations, and shooting down the Zeppelin L-85 - quite probably as a result of his personal gunnery control work. Having been advanced to Lieutenant-Commander in November 1916, he joined his final wartime appointment, the Hercules, in May 1918, and was promoted to Commander soon after coming ashore from her in the following year.

Bent went on to enjoy a spate of seagoing appointments between the Wars, was advanced to Captain in April 1927, appointed an A.D.C. to the King in August 1938, and was placed on the Retired List in the rank of Rear-Admiral in January 1939.

Recalled on the renewal of hostilities later that year, he served as Chief of Staff and Rear-Admiral (Operations) to the C.-in-C. Western Approaches, Admiral M. E. Dunbar-Nasmith, V.C., until April 1942, and was awarded the C.B. (London Gazette 1 January 1941 refers). As a result of ill-health, however, he was invalided in March 1942, and he died in June 1949.