Sergeant Louis George Bentley, DCM, MM & Bar
Louis Bentley enlisted into the 9th Battalion of the King's Liverpool Regiment on 29th September, 1914, less than eight weeks after the outbreak of the Great War. He was given the service number 2597.
Louis was probably sent to join his battalion at Dunfermline, Scotland where they manned the Forth Defences (in fear of a possible invasion by the Germans) until the 9th King's travelled south to Tunbridge Wells in December 1914 where they trained for almost three months.
Whilst training, the 9th King's were ordered to form a second, reserve battalion which became known as the 2nd line, or 2/9th King's Liverpool Regiment, with the original battalion becoming the 1/9th (pronounced first-ninth).
On 12th March 1915 the 1/9th left England bound for France and Louis was with them. He probably fought at the Battle of Aubers Ridge in May 1915, where 14 of the battalion were killed, and 69 wounded. Later, in September 1915 the battalion fought at the Battle of Loos where they suffered over 200 casualties.
The 1/9th King's weren't involved in the disastrous opening to the Battle of the Somme in July 1916 but it wasn't long before they were required as reinforcements and by early August they were in action near to the village of Guillemont. They suffered many casualties but such was the demand for troops that they got little respite, being in action in early September at Delville Wood, Longueval and on 25th of that month they went "over the top" again from the village of Flers, towards Gueudecourt. It was during this attack that Louis was wounded, along with many others of the 1/9th King's. Altogether there were 42 men of his battalion killed on that day.
Louis was named amongst the wounded in the casualty lists published in The Times on 31st October, 1916. It may have been on the day he was wounded that he performed the act of gallantry that saw him awarded the Military Medal, for bravery in the field.
His wounds obviously didn't keep him out of action for long and he was back with his battalion before the middle of November, by which time the 1/9th King's had been moved from the Somme to the notorious Ypres Salient. On 14th November, Louis (now a Corporal) was awarded his Military Medal at a formal presentation.
When the Territorial Force soldiers were re-numbered in January 1917, Louis was still serving in the 1/9th King's and was given a new number - 330606. The reason for this number change was that until that date there would have been a 2597 in many battalions of the King's Liverpool Regiment. Whilst that would not have been a great problem for someone called Bentley, it could cause great confusion in a Welsh regiment where there could easily have been several soldiers called Jones with the number 2597. When one of those Jones's was killed the Army had to be sure they were giving the awful news to the right family!
The 1/9th King's remained in Belgium, in the area around Ypres, until they took part in the biggest allied offensive of the war so far, the Third Battle of Ypres (also known by the name that has come to mean futility and horror - Passchendaele). Louis was with his battalion as they slogged through the thick, glutinous mud towards the German concrete and barbed wire defences.
The Battalion went into action with 16 officers and 566 other ranks. When they were relieved a few days later the total casualties were 46 killed, 197 wounded, and 7 missing. Louis survived this attack and again, his gallantry was both noticed and rewarded. He was again awarded the Military Medal. (A second award of a gallantry medal is always shown as a 'bar' which attaches to the ribbon of the original medal.)
In January, 1918 due to a re-structuring of the British Army, some battalions were disbanded and amalgamated with others. This was the case with the 1/9th King's. The men were split up between other King's Liverpool battalions and Louis was one of those transferred to the 4th Battalion.
Yet again, he was to display exceptional courage and this time, Sergeant Bentley was to be rewarded with the Distinguished Conduct Medal. The citation, giving the circumstances which led to the award was published in the London Gazette on 3rd September, 1918. It read: "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. In the face of enemy attacks he encouraged his section to maintain a successful resistance. He showed determined courage and set a fine example to his men. He was severely wounded"
However severe his wound on this occasion, he was not invalided out of the Army, but was demobilised when the war ended.
That is the story of Louis Bentley, twice wounded and three times rewarded for bravery in the face of the enemy - an exceptional man.