Prized military medal for museum
A Military Cross (MC) awarded to a Maungati soldier has found its final resting place at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
Bruce Ingham Dent was born in Maungati in 1922 and attended Waitaki Boys' High School. He volunteered for the army in November 1941, while undertaking a BA in theology.
He trained at Stuart's Gulley, Waimakariri River, Christchurch, before leaving for Fiji in November 1942 on his 20th birthday. Several months later he was promoted to the rank of sergeant.
He arrived in Suva, Fiji in December 1942.
Later, he commanded the 1st Battalion Fiji Infantry Regiment as platoon commander and, as second lieutenant, he landed in Empress Bay, Bougainville on December 21, 1943.
The regiment was trained and mostly led by New Zealand officers while the ranks were made up by Fijian jungle fighters. Their roles were reconnaissance and leading American jungle patrols.
In early March, 1944, Fiji scout patrols reported massed enemy concentrations heading towards the American camp. A major Japanese offensive against the American base was planned for March 8.
On March 25 Dent was killed in the Battle of Bougainville, when attacking Japanese machine-gun nests.
The MC awarded to him posthumously was donated by his sister, Beverly Wilding, to be part of the War in the Pacific collection at the Auckland Museum.
It was awarded to him for leading reconnaissance jungle patrols deep in Japanese-held territory in Bougainville.
- The Timaru Herald