Bill Bentley enlisted into the Royal Armoured Corps Junior Leaders and served with the 14th/20th Kings Hussars before transferring to the RAC Para Squadron. While serving with the Squadron he completed a UN tour in Cyprus and also served in Malaya, Sharjah, Norway and Northern Ireland.
Bill recalled: "The UN tour of Cyprus was throughout the 1974 Turkish Invasion, during which, as a member of 1st Troop, under Lt. Rod Hine, we were involved in the evacuation of Archbishop Makarios from Paphos. Later we were cut off in Kyrenia until our daring Squadron Leader Major PDB bluffed his way through the entrenched front line to us and negotiated our extraction. Later we 'held out' for more than 2 days at the airport in Nicosia, persuading the Turkish tanks and airborne infantry not to advance any further - until reinforcements from the 16th/5th Lancers arrived - but this was not before our Sqn HQ quickly burnt 'secret documents' prior to a hasty tactical withdrawal, for which we were a part of the security cordon. Once things had settled down we, in our Ferret Scout Cars, drove Major General Prem Chand around Nicosia to evaluate the situation. Then we were attached to the Canadian Airborne at the Ledra Palace Hotel and were detailed to escort Rauf Denktos from his mountain hideout to the peace talks. Somehow the pendant fell off his car and landed in my pocket - just to prove I was there you understand ..."
After a second spell with the Kings Hussars, when he completed tours of Northern Ireland and BAOR, he joined 2 PARA and served with them during the Falklands War. While serving with 2 PARA he also did another tour of Northern Ireland as a member of Nelson Troop, C 'Bruneval' Company, and later as a battalion medic in Kenya and Denmark.
His gallantry in the Falklands War resulted in the award of the Military Medal and his citation notes:
"Lance Corporal Bentley was a member of the Regimental Aid Post of the Second Battalion The Parachute Regiment thoughout the Falkland Islands campaign. During the battle for Port Darwin and Goose Green on 28th/29th May it was of tremendous credit to the Regimental Aid Post that none of the Battalion's wounded died. This credit belongs to none more than Lance Corporal Bentley. From the first moment that the Regimental Aid Post came under mortar and artillery fire Lance Corporal Bentley's qualities manifested themselves. His courage and presence of mind in carrying out his job acted as an inspiration, not only to the other medical orderlies, but to all those who came in contact with him. With an immense pack of medical kit on his back Lance Corporal Bentley was to be found wherever the casualties were thickest. Regardless of enemy shell and mortar fire he not only dealt with his casualties in a calm reassuring manner, but boosted their morale with a continuous lighthearted banter. Typical of his sustained performance during the course of the battle was when a soldier had his lower leg blown off by a mortar bomb. Lance Corporal Bentley, still with heavy pack, ran forward onto a forward slope position and, although under persistent enemy fire, calmly and efficiently carried out the emergency medical treatment that undoubtedly saved the soldier's life. This incident is just one of many that epitomises the qualities of this brave, resourceful and exceptional man. He acted in, and beyond, the finest traditions of The Parachute Regiment."
The 2 PARA Regimental Medical Officer in the Falklands Campaign, Captain Steve Hughes wrote in his diary "Bill's performance has been nothing short of outstanding. He is both a born soldier and a very brave man. From the first time we came under fire he stayed cool and set an example to those around him, including me. He has a calming influence, projected not least by his immense practical sense. If there was nothing else to do whilst we were under shellfire in the gully, Bill was brewing up! Understandably, just his presence instils confidence in all those around him and the others have come on immeasurably. "
On the sporting side Bill was awarded the Regimental Colours of the JLR RAC then the 14/20KH for 'Langlauf Skiing'; later while representing the Para Sqn RAC he was selected for the National Biathlon Squad. He also represented the JLR RAC Judo Team at Crystal Palace in 1970 and, in 1980, 2 Para at the Northern Ireland Army Championships (2 Para taking the 1st and 2nd team places).
Whilst with the 14/20KH he was a Divisional White Water Canoeing Champion in BAOR and, once, a member of the Bisley squad. In 1980 he successfully participated with friends from 2 PARA in the 'Mourne Mountains - International Mountain Marathon'. In 1981 he did a solo ascent of the Djebel Toubkal (North Africa's highest mountain) then later in the same year, as a member of a 2 PARA team he climbed Mount Kenya's five highest peaks and circumnavigated them.
He transferred to the Duke of Lancaster's Yeomanry in 1985, and whilst with the DLOY became the NW England TA Pistol Champion.
Bill Bentley retired from the Army in 1990 with the rank of Staff Sergeant.
By ParaData Editor (HG) based on information kindly supplied by Bill Bentley.Read More