Military Cross : Lieutenant R A Bennet, 51 Battery, 13 Field Artillery Brigade, AIF

Place Europe: Belgium
Accession Number REL/06076.001
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Award
Physical description Silver
Maker Unknown
Place made United Kingdom
Date made c 1917-1918
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Military Cross (Geo V). Engraved reverse with recipient's details.

History / Summary

Robert Avenal Bennet was an electrician, almost 26 years old, when he enlisted on 17 August 1914. Assigned the service number 1338 he embarked from Melbourne, as a gunner with 2 Field Artillery Brigade (FAB), on board HMAT Shropshire on 20 October 1914. In 1915, his wife Nellie gave birth to a daughter. Bennet served at Gallipoli and in July he was taken on strength of the Heavy Battery from 2 Brigade Ammunition Column. In September he was promoted to Temporary Bombardier and in October to Temporary Corporal. He returned to Egypt on 22 December 1915 from Gallipoli. In April 1916 Bennet was promoted to Temporary Sergeant, and after attending the school of instruction at Zeitoun, Egypt, was commissioned Second Lieutenant in May and transferred to 13 Field Artillery Brigade. He was then taken on strength of 5 Divisional Ammunition Column. In June he embarked on board HMT Hunisend for Marseilles. In August 1916 he was promoted to Lieutenant and two months later transferred back to 13 FAB and was posted to the Brigade's 51st Battery. Bennet was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty near Westhoek when the 5th Australian Divisional Artillery sent its forward batteries, one gun at a time, to support the Scottish infantry of the British Fifth Army in their advance to the German Second Line, passing the old front line area at Cambridge Road near the Ypres-Roulers railway. Heavy shell fire delayed the parties making a track across No Man's land for the guns so Bennet reconnoitered his own route and brought his gun into action at 11.36 am. After the Scots were forced to fall back Bennet was ordered to withdraw his gun. After three attempts in heavy rain during which all but two members of his detachment were killed or wounded Bennet retired without the gun. He returned and successfully retrieved it on 2 August. The recommendation for the award of the Military Cross reads: ‘On 31st. July 1917, Lieut. R.A. BENNET, 13th. Aust.F.A.Bde. was detailed to follow the Infantry in an advance with one gun. On reaching the old front line trenches there was no track by which the gun could be moved across. Lieut. BENNET immediately made a reconnaissance, crossing 4 times through the hostile barrage and having found the most suitable point, succeeded in collecting 2 separate working parties and making a track across. The whole operation was carried out under intense and accurate hostile shelling and the latter portion under heavy and continuous rifle and machine gun fire in addition. All the detachment except two became casualties. Lieut. BENNET nevertheless brought his gun into action at I 6 b29. at 2.p.m. This officer succeeded by the very greatest coolness, initiative and perseverance in accomplishing his task’. On 4 October 1917 Bennet's battery was in action at Broodseinde Ridge during the Third Battle of Ypres. He was killed by a piece of high explosive shrapnel to the head at 6.04am while controlling the fire of his battery. His body was taken by wagon to Dickebusch, near Ypres. He is buried at the Huts Cemetery.