|1. Memorial:||Freemasons VC Memorial||Great Queen Street|
Awards & Titles:
|Victoria Cross |
Early Life :Bennett was born at Church School House in Cainscross, Stroud, Gloucestershire, the fourth of five sons of Mr and Mrs Charles Bennett.
Family :His father, Charles, was a railway clerk and later a schoolmaster. His mother was Florence Emma Sophia nee Ody, a barmaid in her father’s public house in Bristol before her marriage. Charles and Florence married at St Werburgh, Bristol. Charles later became Headmaster of the National School in Cainscross from 1894. Eugene had five siblings – Leonora Florence, Alexander George Amos, Harold Stanley, Leopold Charles and Theodore John. Sadly, Theodore was killed in action in Palestine in 1918, whilst Harold was killed in an accident in Penarth, near Cardiff in 1915 aged just 26. Leopold also died young, at just 23 in 1914.
On 26th July 1922, Bennett married Violet Regina nee Fuerst at Kingston, Surrey. The family name was changed by deed poll in 1916 to Forster due to their Germanic surname. She was a songwriter. Violet and Eugene had two children – Anne and Jonathan.
Education & Career :
Bennett was a pupil at the Marling School, a grammar school in Stroud from 1905 to 1908 having gained a scholarship from Uplands School, Stroud.
After World War I he became a lawyer, being called to the bar in 1923, then serving as Prosecuting Counsel from 1931 to 1935 and a Metropolitan Magistrate from 1935 to his retirement in 1961. During World War II he served as an officer in the Air Training Corps of the RAF. He retired to Vicenza, in northern Italy, where he died at the age of 77.
- The First World War 1914-1918, World-wide.
|Unit / Ship / Est.: Worcestershire Regiment|
|Action : War Survivor|
Although many perished in times of national conflict and in the service of their country, many more survived including those interned as Prisoners of War. Stories of those who did survive are included as part of this site, especially those with high gallantry awards, those included against an external rolls of honour and those who had a distinguished career in wartime and military leaderhip.
He was 24 when on 5 November 1916 the action for which he was awarded the VC occurred near Le Transloy, France.
On the Somme, several attacks had been made against a very strong German position; largely owing to weather conditions, they had failed. In a final attempt, the Battalion pushed forward under heavy shelling and machine gun fire. "D" Company led, commanded by Non-Commissioned Officers, and the three other Companies followed. Lieutenant Bennett, leading C" Company, fell wounded in a sunken trench. Here his wound was bandaged, and he found two wounded comrades, a 2nd-Lieutenant and a Sergeant. Looking through the smoke they saw that "D" Company was leaderless. Its N.C.O.'s had been killed, and the Company had stopped. The others had also halted, and all four Companies lay out in the open under a very heavy fire, where they would be slowly wiped out. It seemed as if the attack had again failed, this time through the lack of a leader. The Sergeant dashed out, followed by the Subaltern, but both were killed.
Cutting steps in the side of the trench with a spade, Lieutenant Bennett scrambled out, despite his wound. Rushing to the front of the Battalion, spade in hand, he waved them on. Like one man the Companies rose; and so furious was their attack that the trenches, which had held out so long, were captured. For his bravery and fine leadership, which resulted in saving the Battalion and capturing the enemy line, Lieutenant Bennett was awarded the V.C.
Citations & Commemorations :His VC Citation in the Gazette reads:
Temporary Lieutenant Bennett, of the Worcestershire Regiment, when in command of the second wave of the attack, found that the first wave had suffered heavy casualties. Its commander had been killed and the second line was wavering. Lieutenant Bennett advanced at the head of the second wave and by his personal example of valour and resolution reached his objective with but sixty men. Isolated with his small party, he at once took steps to consolidate his position, under heavy rifle and machine gun fire from both flanks, and although wounded, he remained in command, directing and controlling. He set an example of cheerfulness and resolution beyond all praise, and there is little doubt that, but for his personal example of courage, the attack would have been checked at the outset.
He was previously involved in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle in March 1915 and was the only officer in his company to survive. He was wounded at Festubert in May when his trench was mined and he had to be dug out. He was promoted to Lieutenant in August 1915. For his actions on the night of 10th-11th November 1915 near Cambrin, France, he was awarded the Military Cross. The Battalion had just taken over the line when the Germans exploded a mine, destroying 60 metres of trench held by D Company. He led rescue parties over the debris and set about digging out those trapped. The enemy were firing from only 30 metres away, but work continued until the survivors were rescued. The Military Cross was presented by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 10th May 1916.
|Type||Lodge Name and No.||Province/District :|
|Mother :||Lodge of Felicity No. 58 E.C.||London|
1st January 1922
In the aftermath of the Great War, Eugene became a Freemason, joining the Lodge of Felicity No 58 in London in 1922.
The project globally acknowledges the following as sources of information for research across the whole database:
- The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- The (UK) National Archives
- Ancestry.co.uk - Genealogy, Family Trees & Family History online
- ugle.org.uk - The records of the United Grand Lodge of England including the Library and Museum of Freemasonry
- Founder Researchers : Paul Masters & Mike McCarthy
- Researcher : Bruce Littley