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Our Committee is raising funds to create a lasting legacy telling the story of Lemnos' link to Gallipoli and Australia's Anzac story. Our projects include the Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial in Albert Park, the publication of a major new historical and pictorial publication and more. To make a donation you can also deposit directly by direct debit into the Committee's bank account: Account Name: Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee Inc; Bank: Delphi Bank; Account No: 204299-020 BSB No: 941300; Include your surname in the reference section. For further information on our legacy projects or to make a donation please contact either Lee Tarlamis 0411553009 or Jim Claven 0409402388M

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

St Kilda's Private Albert Alfred Bent - Medals found and re-united with his family!

Private Albert Alfred Bent's WW1 Medals (front). Source: Jim Claven

Private Albert Alfred Bent's WW1 Medals (rear). Source: Jim Claven
In early April, I reported the story of Private Albert Alfred Bent and my finding his grave at Gallipoli's Aru Burni Cemetery. As a result of this initial post, I can now report that Albert's long lost WW1 medals have been returned to his descendents.
Firstly, Richard Watkins of Tasmania, contacted me to let me know that for some unknown reason his family were in possession of two of Private Bent's medals. Maybe the families were related in some way. At the same time, one of Albert's descendent's - Helen O'Connor of Sydney - had thanked me for posting my initial story about her great uncle. She told me how she had been researching Albert's story for ten years and the family treasured Albert's WW1 memorial plaque and scroll that they had. But sadly, they did not know what had happened to his medals.
Private Bent's WW1 Memorial Plaque and scroll. Source: Helen O'Connor
On behalf of Richard, I have been able to re-unite Albert's long lost medals with his family.

This just shows how powerful and useful the internet can be.
On behalf of the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee, I would like to thank Richard Watkins for re-uniting Private Bent's WW1 medals with his descendents. Well done.
Jim Claven
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

Below is more information on Private Albert Alfred Bent.
Private Albert Alfred Bent. Source: NAA
Private Albert Alfred Bent - a St Kilda Digger

Private 223 Albert Alfred Bent, of the 8th Australian Light Horse, was a digger from St Kilda. Although his time on Lemnos was brief, like all diggers who served at Gallipoli, he saw Lemnos' great Mudros Habour before he sailed for the horrors of the peninsula..
Private Bent's service record. Source: NAA

Born in Wodonga Victoria, he had attended Albury State School. Enlisting at the age of 35 in Melbourne on 17th September 1914, he listed his profession as a labourer, working in the building trade. His place of association is listed as St Kilda - his mother Preston C Bent lived at 57 Spencer Street in that suburb (subsequently moving to St Kilda's Acland Street), and maybe that's where Albert lived before he enlisted.
A Trooper in the 8th Australian Light Horse, Albert served in A Troop, B Squadron, 3rd Brigade.
8th Light Horse troops - including Trooper Bent - about to board the Star of Victoria at Port Melbourne. Source: AWM

He sailed from Princes Pier, Melbourne, aboard the HMAT A16 Star of Victoria. It left Melbourne on the 25th February 1915.When it left Perth as part of the First Anzac Convoy for Egypt, aboard were 26 officers, 487 other ranks and 461 horses. Albert's troopship sailed via Colombo in then Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). As they crossed the equator, photographs show the troops taking part in the traditional "crossing of the equator" ceremony, with officers being "dunked" in makeshift pools aboard ship on the orders of "Neptune".
Private Bent would have enjoyed the crossing of the equator ceremonies! Source: AWM

After arriving in Egypt, Albert sailed for Lemnos and Gallipoli from Alexandria on 16th May 1915. The Unit Diary records that like all Light Horse units sent to Gallipoli, their precious mounts were left behind in Egypt.
We know from the Unit Diary, that Albert and his comrades arrived at Lemnos on 19th May, proceeding to Gallipoli the next day. Their first role was to relieved the Wellington Mounted Rifles at Gaba Tepe.
By the 25th May, the 8th Light Horse had moved to Walker's Ridge where they suffered many enemy attacks. Just over a month after his arrival at Gallipoli - on 27th June 1915 - Albert was killed in action defending Walker's Ridge.
Excerpt from 8 Light Horse Unit Diary recording Private Bent's death. Source: AWM
The Unit Diary for this day records Alfred having been killed during a period of heavy enemy shelling - from 4pm on the 27th June until 7.15am the following morning. Albert was recorded as having been killed along with the Unit's Second-in-Command Major Gregory, Headquarters Adjutant Captain Joseph Crowl, Troopers CT King (830) and EL Smith (666) - the latter both of C Squadron. Sixteen of the Unit were wounded in the action on this day, including the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel White, who is recorded as having received a slight shell wound to the forehead.
It should be noted that Captain Crowl - a former Geelong VFL footballer - was born not far from where Albert came from - nearby Emerald Hill.
Reverend Chaplain Edward Makeham, of Perth WA, photographed with other 10th Battalion officers in Belgium, 1918. Source: AWM

Albert was buried at the cemetery then called Gallipoli Point, now known as Ari Burnu - as was Captain Crowl. The Reverend Chaplain Edward Makeham officiated at his burial. It should be noted that after the evacuation from Gallipoli, the Reverend Chaplain Makeham served with the 3rd Australian General Hospital in Abbassia Egypt - which had been located on Lemnos during the Gallipoli campaign. He would go on to serve in France.
He received the British War Medal, 1914-15 Star and Victory Medal.
Lest we forget.
Private Bent's grave, Ari Burnu Cemetary Gallipoli, April 2015. Source: Jim Claven

Ari Burnu Cemetery, Gallipoli, where Private Bent's grave is located. April 2015. Source: Jim Claven
Sources: National Archives of Australia, Australian War Memorial

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