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At some stage Kimball Bent made his way to Liverpool, England and on 18 October 1859 enlisted in the 57th (West Middlesex) Regiment of Foot in the British Army. He served in India and his unit was posted to New Zealand in 1861. His record was dubious, and he was repeatedly disciplined for various military infractions including disobedience and drunkenness. This discipline included a prison sentence in Wellington, and receiving lashes in front of his company. Bent accordingly decided to desert in June 1865 while serving in Taranaki.
Bent was found by a local Māori chief of the Ngāti Ruanui iwi in South Taranaki and eventually became accepted as a part of the local tribe. He fell in with Titokowaru's followers in 1867 and fought with them against the colonists in what has become known as Titokowaru's War until their eventual defeat in 1869. Bent then went into hiding in the backblocks of Taranaki.
In 1903 he was rediscovered, and a book was written about his life by James Cowan. Entitled The adventures of Kimble Bent: a story of wild life in the New Zealand bush, it was something of sensation at the time.
- Belich, James (1989). I Shall Not Die: Titokowaru's War, New Zealand 1868–1869. Wellington: Allen & Unwin New Zealand Limited.
- Oliver, W.H. "Bent, Kimble, 1837–1916: Soldier, deserter, Pakeha-Maori, character". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Retrieved 3 December 2005.
- Biography in 1966 New Zealand Encyclopaedia
- Shadbolt, Maurice (1990). Monday's Warriors. United Kingdom: Bloomberg Publishing, Ltd.
- Cowan, James (1911) "The Adventures of Kimble Bent: A Story of Wild Life in the New Zealand Bush". full text online.