Remembrance Day: The Bentley brothers
The Bentley brothers Arthur and George, were two of nine children born to parents Charles and Gertrude. Arthur was born in February 1890 and George in April 1886 were the first two sons. Their father was an early pioneer of Menai, building their family home in 1897.
Arthur joined the AIF in January 1915 and married Margaret just before he left for overseas service in March. He was a private and George a Corporal, both departing on HMAT Shropshire with their mate from Menai, John Buckle.
The soldiers landed on Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 and continued to defend the Anzac frontline until the evacuation in December. George was injured on 12 July when a trench collapsed, and his left side was crushed under a falling load of earth. He spent time in hospital and returned to Australia in August. By January 1916 he returned to service and was promoted to Second Lieutenant and embarked for France to join his brother Arthur.
They soon experienced the horrors of trench warfare along the Western Front. In August 1916, Arthur he was appointed Temporary Corporal and awarded the Military Medal for his actions at Poziers for “…volunteer(ing) to man an advanced bombing post, the defenders of which had been killed by the heavy shell-fire and held it until relived 30 hours later”.
In the early hours of 4 February 1917, George was in a Stormy Trench crowded in with wounded comrades, an intensified shelling attack ensued, and a shell burst near George, driving a piece of shrapnel into his chest and was killed instantly.
Six months after George’s death, Arthur sustained a gunshot wound to his chest and in January 1917 he returned to Australia, eventually settling in Tweed Heads.