Henry John Eldred Bentley, 9 March 1917 - 3 January 2007
Harry Bentley, as he was always known, was born in Kilburn and brought up in Wembley. After taking his degree in chemistry he joined the Territorial Army and was then called-up for World War II service with the Royal Army Medical Corps, largely in the 8th Army Pathology Laboratory in Egypt (he was said to have a fund of gory tales to tell).
After the war Harry joined the Esso Petroleum Company, initially at Vauxhall and subsequently at the headquarters in Victoria Street. Harry had responsibility for technical services for bitumen and wax products, including innovative materials for highway construction. In the immediate post-war period Esso fielded good teams in football, rugby and cricket. Harry was more of an organiser than player, and with typical thoroughness kept immaculate match records, especially as cricket scorer. He was a notable practical joker and a popular member of staff.
Harry took his technical responsibilities seriously and very much believed in the value of collegial contacts and information sharing and dissemination within the wider scientific community. He was elected a Member of the Society of Chemical Industry on 11 January 1957 and enthusiastically supported the activities of the then Road & Building Materials Group, now Construction Materials Group. Harry was Honorary Secretary between 1967 and 1972 and then Vice-Chairman (1972 - 1974) and Chairman (1974 - 1976). During his time in office he was the instigator and organiser for the manufacture of the Group Chairman’s medallion of office. Harry continued as a Committee Member up to the time of his death. Probably one of the most well-remembered aspects of Harry’s committee activities was his determination that the Minutes of Meetings would be correctly and accurately recorded --- especially punctuation, including the final full-stop! Harry and his late wife, Mary, were regular attendees at social and Christmas meetings of the Construction Materials Group and Harry typically organised post-meeting refreshments, very often at the “Pig & Whistle” in Little Chester Street within easy walking distance of Belgrave Square. For his exceptional and sustained services to the SCI Group Harry was presented with the Construction Materials Group Award at the Millenium Meeting on 27 January 2000.
Harry’s wartime experiences encouraged him to become a life-long and staunch supporter of the Royal British Legion. He was a distributor for the annual Poppy Collection in the Chiswick area where he lived and helped organise the annual Remembrance Day parade and other civic ceremonies where his tact and good humour helped to quell difficult moments (a particular incident was said to involve the Sergeant Major of the Welsh Borderers, the Regimental mascot goat and the Bugler’s trousers!). Harry was a long time and regular member of the congregation of the Methodist Church in Chiswick .
The funeral service was conducted by the Revd Emma Aikins at Mortlake Crematorium, Richmond, on 15 January 2007. In attendance were Councillor Mrs Felicity Barwood, Mayor of Chiswick, and Mr Paul Lynch, Chairman of the Chiswick Branch of the Royal British Legion, together with representatives from the Methodist Church, the British Legion, the Society of Chemical Industry and colleagues from industry. The funeral cortege was escorted by the Royal British Legion Branch Standard, which was lowered during the final committal.
Harry leaves a son, John, and Grandson, Christopher, to whom we extend condolences and sympathy.
January 19, 2007