CAMPAIGNERS have branded a move to exclude a war hero from having a commemorative stone laid in recognition of his sacrifice as ‘ridiculous’.
Lieutenant Colonel Phillip Bent, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery in the First World War, will be left out of Government plans to recognise all winners of the highest award for gallantry to mark the centenary of the First World War in 2014
This is because the stones will only be for those winners born in the UK and as Lt Col Bent was born in Canada, despite moving to Ashby as a boy, it looks likely that his bravery will not be recognised.
He attended Ashby Boys Grammar School (now Ashby School) between 1904 and 1907.
Ken Hillier, vice-chairman of the Ashby Museum, said: “Phillip Bent was a true Leicestershire war hero.
“He went to school here in Ashby and we’re rightly proud of him.
“It doesn’t matter where he was born – what matters is that he died fighting bravely for this country.
“Half his short life was spent living in or fighting for the UK. He is both a Canadian and British hero.
“It’s ridiculous that he should be excluded from these centenary commemorations next year.”
His mother, Sophie, gave his medals to the school in 1923 and for more than 50 years they were displayed with pride in a glass case on the school library wall.
Thinktank British Future has written to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles urging him to revise the terms of the scheme so that servicemen with a significant local connection, like Lt Col Bent, are suitably commemorated in their community.
Lt Col Bent came to England as a young boy.
He was killed in action, aged 26, leading a battalion of the Royal Leicester Regiment, on October 1 1917, east of Polygood Wood, Belgium, near Passchendaele.
He was the first Canadian-born recipient of the Victoria Cross during the First World War.
Burton war hero William Coltman is set to get a commemorative stone as part of the proposals.