Biplane fighter aces


Pilot Officer Michael Amor Bentley, RAF no. 42184

Bentley served in 263 Squadron on both Norwegian expeditions.

At 15.00 on 26 May two pairs of Gladiators were sent off to intercept German anti-shipping attacks in the Harstad area.
Pilot Officer Phillip Hannah Purdy and Pilot Officer Bentley first attacked one bomber at 2000 feet to the south-east of Harstad, which they identified as a Do 17. Both pilots made beam attacks; Bentley then chased it down very low into a valley 20 miles south of Narvik. It was later confirmed to have crashed into a hillside, but this does not seem to have been the case, for no loss had actually been suffered.
Purdy meanwhile had broken away to attack five more aircraft identified as Dorniers, which were bombing shipping at Harstad at 12,000 feet. He made an astern attack on the third bomber in the formation, firing from 250 yards and seeing the port engine emit white smoke. The bomber broke formation and turned south, losing height. At this, the rest of the formation split up and headed away southwards. It was reported that the ‘Dornier’ he had attacked was later found crashed to the south-west of Harstad. Again there is no confirmation of this from Luftwaffe records.

Bentley took part in the successful evacuation of fighters from Narvik on 8 June 1940 when he and nine other pilots from 263 Squadron landed their Gladiators aboard HMS Glorious. However this successful evacuation was avail when the carrier was sunk by the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau later in the day with the loss of almost all aboard, Bentley being one of them.

At the time of his death Bentley was credited with 1 shared biplane victory.

Kill no. Date Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  26/05/40 ½ Do 17 (a) Shared destroyed Gladiator II   S E Harstad 263 Squadron

Biplane victories: 1 shared destroyed.
TOTAL: 1 shared destroyed.
(a) Crashed into a hillside 20 miles south of Narvik at 1500. Not confirmed with German sources.

Fledgling Eagles - Christopher Shores with John Foreman, Christian-Jaques Ehrengardt, Heinrich Weiss and Bjørn Olsen, 1991 Grub Street, London, ISBN 0-948817-42-9
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Last modified 26 November 2000