Sergeant Thomas Cyril Bentley
Unit : Mortar Platoon, Support Company, 10th Parachute Battalion
Army No. : 6400234
Awards : Distinguished Conduct Medal
At Oosterbeek on 20th September 1944, Sergeant Bentley, who had already shown conspicuous bravery in much hard fighting since he was dropped on 18th September, was in charge of a detachment of mortars using the top floor of a house as an Observation Post in the hard pressed north eastern corner of the divisional perimeter. The position was held by the remnants of the Battalion about 50 strong, constantly under fire and frequently heavily attacked. From his Observation Post he not only directed telling heavy fire upon the enemy but also obtained information vital to the defence which he was obliged to take back personally to his CO under fire from close range on each occasion. When the side of his house was blown in by a self-propelled gun at point blank range he fell from top floor to basement but crawled out and carried on from another. He was located and shot out more than once that day but set a magnificent example of determination to carry on and during the operation was responsible for the discovery and repulse of a dangerous infiltrating movement from an unexpected quarter. The CO was wounded and a few men in the Battalion Headquarters house were captured and the mortars lost. That night Sergeant Bentley led a patrol into enemy occupied area and brought the mortars out operating them from then on under heavy fire under the personal direction of the brigadier, for whom they were the last two mortars in the brigade.
It is difficult to praise too highly this NCOs courage, coolness, endurance and competence or to under estimate his contribution, both material and moral, in a difficult operation.
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