Image from the Evening Star – 20th December 1943.
Born: 17th June 1920.
Confirmed: Sunday, 16th March 1935, at Magdalen College School chapel, by the Lord Bishop of Oxford – Thomas Strong.
Died: 12th December 1943; age: 23; aircraft shot down over the Bay of Biscay.
Residence: 9, Humber Doucy Lane, Ipswich.
Rank: Flying Officer; Service Number: 136668
Regiment: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 143 Squadron.
Relatives Notified & Address: Adopted son of Mrs. J.M. Bentley, of Ipswich.
Adopted father: Arthur Eden Bentley, born August 1865, Paddington, Middlesex – died May 1944, at 9, Humber Doucy Lane, Ipswich. An Insurance District Manager – Ipswich Office.
Adopted mother: Jessie Mary Bentley (nee Beckingham), born November 1883, Heavitree, Devon.
Michael was educated at Ipswich School, before moving on to New College School, Oxford, and New College, Oxford, where he was a chorister – entered 1931 – left 1934.
New College, Oxford information courtesy of Jennifer Thorp – Archivist – https://www.new.ox.ac.uk/
New College School, Oxford information courtesy of Jemma Kilkenny – Archivist – https://www.newcollegeschool.org/
Michael then continued his education at Magdalen College School, Oxford – entered Michaelmas Term 1934, form Iva.
Michael’s entry in The Lily – Magdalen College School magazine – courtesy of Mrs. Lindsay McCormack – Archivist – https://www.mcsoxford.org/
Image, Rugby 2nd team 1935. Team members: S E Hunt ; J D Hastings ; R W Kitson ; C A Farrimond ; C A Peace ; A F J G Jackson ; J H Austin (Capt) ; R J Manners ; J A Jessop ; P G Thompson ; M Bentley.
He played for the 2nd XI hocked team, 1935, as inside left. He is described “Is very slow in placing himself for a pass, but possesses good stick work. He will be very useful with more experience.” He plays for the first XI by 1936: “M. Bentley shows some promise at inside left; some of his passes are first-rate”. In 1937 his playing is described,
“M.Bentley at times is the cleverest forward in the five, in that he doesn’t do the obvious, but he must not overdo cross-hitting, and must get the ball under control and make more use of his eyes.”
In 1935, he played cricket for the ‘Under 15’ XI and is described as ‘well above ‘Under 15’ standard’. By 1936 he is playing for the first XI and is described “…Bentley, who can produce a fairly fast ball, but has neither the physique for control of length yet, which a good fast bowler requires, but they will probably come in time.” In 1937, “…Bentley provided some profitable “shock-bowling”.” In 1937, “Bentley in a temperamental innings of 15 not out, hit a beautiful six, the best one of the season.” He received his cricket half-colours in 1938, and was thus described: BENTLEY, 1936, ’37, ’38. A useful all-rounder, whose mistakes were mainly due to failure to concentrate, both in batting and fielding. He has good strokes and can bowl a dangerous fast -medium ball.
He participated as a member of the school Debating Society, and is recorded in 1939 in the debate “In the opinion of this house that the advantages of fame are more than outweighed by its disadvantages” , “Mr. M. Bentley, who pointed out that poets do not clamour for fame, it comes naturally to them.”
The Valete section of July 1938 gives this entry for him in the Upper VIth: M. BENTLEY. Came Mich., 1934. Dayboy (Wilkinson) Boarder (Callender, Hil.,’38). 1st Class Shot. Cpl. O.T.C. Cert. “A.” Rugby Football 2nd XV. Hockey XI Half-Colours. Cricket XI Half-Colours. Prefect.
Michael was a golfer of unusual promise. When he was 16 years old, playing from handicap 14, he won the Medal Singles in the Suffolk Golf Union meeting at Bury St. Edmund’s, a performance described as “sensational,” and in the following year reached the fourth round of the National Boys’ Golf Championship. He was credited with a schoolboy cricket century, and was a keen hockey player.
12th December 1943
Aircraft: Bristol Beaufighter MkX; serial number: JM132(T); based: R.A.F. Portreath, Cornwall. JM132 took-off at 12:00hrs with five other Beaufighters for an Interceptor Patrol over the Bay of Biscay. At 14:20hrs while flying at 3,000ft, approximately 230 miles from base the Beaufighters were surprised by five Junkers JU88’s. Before the R.A.F. aircraft could take any action two of them, JM132 and JM158 (F/O R.J. Scott & F/L S.A.Tucker) had been shot down. In the ensuring battle the remaining four Beaufighters turned on the JU88’s claiming three shot down and a fourth damaged.
Albert Cyril Lewin Phillips; Flight Sergeant/Navigator; age 34; R.A.F.V.R.
Aircraft information courtesy of John Allan