The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. B Bent
Benjamin Bent was born on 22nd August 1919 at Coatbridge, Scotland. He joined the RAF on 8th November 1937 as an Aircrafthand and began a Wireless Operator course at No. 1 Electrical and Wireless School at Cranwell in February 1938. The course ended in November and Bent was posted to Biggin Hill on 9th January 1939.
In June 1940 he volunteered for aircrew duties and joined 25 Squadron at Martlesham Heath on 6th August. Bent was detached to 604 Squadron at Middle Wallop on the 31st for AI training, after which he rejoined 25 Squadron.
Bent began operational night-flying as an LAC but without a flying badge. On 27th September 1940 he was promoted to Sergeant with the category of Wireless Operator (Air).
On his first operational tour Bent assisted in five successful night interceptions, all with S/Ldr. HP Pleasance in Beaufighters. On the night of 4th/5th May 1941 they intercepted and damaged an unidentified enemy aircraft, on the 7/8th and 8/9th two Do17's were destroyed, on the 11th/12th a He111 was damaged and during the night of 13th/14th June a Ju88 was destroyed.
Bent remustered as a Radio Observer on 10th July 1941. Tour expired, he was posted to 54 OTU Charter Hall on 29th April 1942 as an instructor.
On 23rd July Bent was reclassified as a Navigator Radio and rejoined 25 Squadron, then at Church Fenton, on 8th September 1942 for his second tour. He was commissioned from Warrant Officer in April 1943.
On 21st March 21 1944 he assisted in destroying two Ju88's and at 00.43 hrs on 6th June a Me110 over the North Sea, possibly the first enemy aircraft shot down on D-Day.
Awarded the DFC (gazetted 26th May 1944), Bent finished his tour in July and then served as Night Fighter Liaison Officer in France with a P-61 Black Widow squadron of the USAAF.
Bent was released from the RAF on 2nd February 1947 as a Flight Lieutenant.
He rejoined on 4th October 1950 on a short service commission in the Fighter Control Branch. Granted a permanent commission on 1st April 1952, Bent retired from the RAF at his own request on 5th December 1970 as a Flight Lieutenant.
Bent died on 4th March 2013.