Messines Bell

The Messines bell (42)

In 1919, when the government approved the construction of a National War Memorial, the form it would take was unknown. Three years later P.N. Denton, of W. Littlejohn and Co., Wellington jewellers and opticians, wrote to the Prime Minister William Massey and suggested a war memorial carillon – a musical instrument made up of large bells.

Although the government did not favour this proposal, the idea of a musical memorial appealed to many prominent locals and in 1926 the Wellington War Memorial Carillon Society was formed to work towards the construction of a carillon. That year the Society offered citizens the opportunity to purchase one of 49 bells as a memorial to a loved one who had died in the war. The scheme proved popular and within a week all the bells had been subscribed to. The following year, despite not having a campanile in which to hang the bells nor the money to build one, the Society arranged for the bells to be cast. 

In 1928, the Society offered the bells to the government and suggested they could form a National War Memorial at Mount Cook, Wellington. Together the bells would form a carillon housed in a bell tower, or campanile. The government agreed and four years later, on Anzac Day 1932, the 50-metre-high carillon was dedicated and ‘the music of the bells drifted over the city borne on a southerly breeze.’ [1]

Each bell bears a name or inscription in memory of those to whom they were dedicated. A sub-committee of the Carillon Society carried out the work of naming the bells and drawing up the list of inscriptions. Of the original 49 bells, 33 were dedicated to individuals while the remainder carried the names of battles, military units or other groups. Twenty-five bells have since been added to the Carillon, including four large bells donated in 1995 to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, bringing the total number of bells to 74. 

The original 49

Further information, including the stories behind these 49 bells, will be added in the coming months 

1G#17.5144Delville Wood
In Memory of Alfred Meliss Stuart.
Given by his Mother.
In Memory of Percy William Skelley.
Given by Agnes Salmond Skelley and
Claude H.T. Skelley.
In Memory of Robert John Cook.
Given by Susan Cook.
In Memory of Walter Anderson Holmes.
Given by his Family.
5E18.4215.885Hill 60
In Memory of Roland Leslie Ward.
Given by his Mother, Joan E. Ward.
In Memory of Ian Compton Clark and
John Compton Keasberry.
Given by Louisa Elizabeth Clark and
Annie and Cecil Keasberry.
In Memory of James Brian Anderson.
Given by his Aunt, Anne Anderson.
In Memory of Hugh Collins.
Given by his Father, Andrew Collins.
In Memory of George Albert Johnson.
Given by Annie Ethel and
Flora Christina Johnson.
In Memory of Laurence Harvey Butler.
Given by his Mother.
In Memory of George William Nias.
Given by his Mother.
In Memory of John Dale Bennett.
Given by his Parents.
13G#27.9424.1316.33Beaumont Hamel
In Memory of Kenneth Owen De Cent
and Hugh Edward Wood.
Given by Norman Gordon De Cent and
Marjorie L.F. De Cent.
14G30.482621.32High Wood
In Memory of Frederick Arthur Allen.
Given  by his Parents.
In Memory of Cecil Ernest Webb and
Arthur Llewellyn Webb.
Given by Relatives.
In Memory of Raymond Shirley McHardie,
Clarence Vivian McHardie, and
Cyril James McHardie.
Given by their Father, James McHardie.
In Memory of Watkin Eldridge Lewis, Tom
Eldridge Lewis, and Samuel Eldridge Lewis.
Given by their Sisters and Brothers.
18D#38.7431.7544.45Chunuk Bair
In Memory of Roy Wilson Lambert.
Given by his Sisters and Brothers.
In Memory of George Simpson.
Given by his Father, William James Simpson
and Family.
In Memory of Ateo Frandi.
Given by his Sister.
In Memory of Percy George Alfred Talbot.
Given by his Mother, Mary Talbot.
22B45.7237.4765.77Suvla Bay
In Memory of Henry Barnard and
Charles Valentine Barnard.
Given by his Mother,
Helena M. Barnard.
In Memory of Charles Cyril Pontin Tanner.
Given by his Sisters, Dorothy Tanner
and Gwyneth Laird.
In Memory of George Foden Rooking Hall.
Given by George A.H. Hall and Family.
In Memory of Garfield Alexander Warin
and Nurse Kathleen Mary Hollis.
Given by James Gordon Finlay.
In Memory of Frederick Francis Marshall, and
Albert Gerard Marshall.
Given by their Parents, Frank and May Marshall.
27F#60.9650.17147.42La Vacquerie
In Memory of William Darcy Davies.
Given by Margaret Davies.
28F64.1452.07181.89La Bassee
In Memory of William Trenton Doughty.
Given by his Mother.
29E68.656.52219.01Wellington’s South African War Veterans’ Bell
30D#71.1257.79231.79Abraham Heights
In Memory of Edward (Ted) Levy.
Given by his Mother, Frances Levy.
31D73.6659.69252.65The New Zealand Permanent Forces Bell
Dedicated to the Memory of all Officers,
Warrant Officers, N.C.o.’s and Men of the
The New Zealand Permanent Military Forces
Who gave their Lives for the Empire. 1914-18.
In Memory of Officers, N.C.O.’s and Men of
the 5th (Wellington) Regt.
Who fell in the Great War, 1914-18.
‘Virtutis Fortuna Comes’
‘D’ Battery.
34B85.0968.58366Le Quesnoy
(Badge of N.Z. Rifle Brigade)
35A#88.971.12416.86The Nurses’ Bell
(N.Z. Army Nursing Service Symbol)
Dedicated to the New Zealand Nurses and
V.A.D.’s who made the Supreme Sacrifice in
the Great War, 1914-18.
By the New Zealand Nurses.
36A95.2576.2516.19(Special Medical Service Symbol)
To the Glorious Memory of the Wellington
Officers and Men of the Medical Service
Who fell in the Great War, 1914-18.
‘Allis Succurrendo Perierunt Ipsi’
37G#101.681.28602.37Walker’s Ridge
In Memory of Philip Gardiner Tattle.
Given by his Mother, Mary Ann Tattle.
38G106.6886.36732Sari Bair
In Memory of Francis Davison and
Mathew Holmes.
Given by their Father-in-law, Herbert P. Rawson.
39F#11391.44865Gallipoli 1915
Given by Residents of Lyall Bay, Brooklyn,
Mornington, Vogeltown, and Hataitai.
40F119.3896.521078.19In Memory of the
Men of the Hutt Valley
Who gave their lives in the Great War,
41E127104.141268.7Flanders Fields
In Ever Loving Remembrance of
Leslie Heron [Beauchamp],
Only Son of Harold and Annie Burnell
To the Memory of the Members of the
Government Departments in Wellington,
who lost their lives in the Great War, 1914-18.
‘We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields.’
 - MacRae.
Presented by Officers of the Government
Departments in Wellington.
43D142.24116.841708.23My Name is
The Seven Seas
Cherish me as a Tribute to the
British Mercantile Marine, 1914-18.
‘If blood be the price of admiralty,
Lord God, we ha’ paid in full.’
 - Kipling
‘Lights are bright and all’s well.’
(Arms of Royal Navy)
To the Glory of God and to the Royal Navy, 1914-18.
‘The sea is our Life.’
- Jellicoe.
Given by Proprietors Evening Post.
In Memory of Cyril Ivan Brown
and his Mother.
Presented by his Father, William Brown.
To the Glorious Memory of
The New Zealand Mounted Rifles
Sinai-Palestine, 1916-18.
‘Nothing daunted these intrepid fighters;
to them nothing was impossible.’
 - Edmund H.H. Allenby, Field-Marshal.
Given by Associated Contributors.
To the Glorious Memory of The Australian
and New Zealand Army Corps,
Gallipoli, 191[5].
‘The troops had performed a feat which is
without parallel.’
 - W.B. Birdwood, Lieut.-General.
Given by Wellington Business Houses.
48A190.5154.944143.57The Somme
To the Glorious Memory of
The New Zealand Division, 1916-18.
‘Its Record does honour to the land from
which it came and to the Empire for which it fought.’
 - D. Haig, Field-Marshal.
Given by Citizens.
49G#203.2165.15048Reo Wairua
To the Glory of God and in Memory of the
1700 Men of Wellington City and Suburbs
Who gave their lives in the Great War, 1914-18.
‘Ana! He Tangi Aroha.’
Given by Louis Proctor Blundell and
Annie Elizabeth Blundell.

Four additional bells

In 1995, to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, four large bells were added to the Carillon.

50G214.5-6458Grace (Aroha)
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring out the false, ring in the true,
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.’
 - Tennyson, In Memoriam

To the Glory of God
This bell is dedicated in commemoration of
the fiftieth anniversary of the end
of World War Two.
Anno Domini 1995.
51F#227.3-7904Hope (Tūmanako)
O weep, child, weep, o weep away the stain,
Lost innocence who wished your lover dead,
Weep for the lives your wishes never led.
O law drummed out by hearts against the still
Long winter of our intellectual will.
That what has been may never be again.
 - Auden, Hymn to St. Cecilia

To the Glory of God
This bell is dedicated in commemoration of
the fiftieth anniversary of the end
of World War Two.
Anno Domini 1995.
52F240.3-9278Remembrance (Whakamaharatanga)
No man is an island entire of itself;
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
Therefore never send to know
For whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
 - Donne, Meditation XVII.

To the Glory of God
This bell is dedicated in commemoration of
the fiftieth anniversary of the end
of World War Two.
Anno Domini 1995.
53D272-12475Peace (Rangimārie)
To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite;
To forgive wrongs darker than death or night;
To defy Power, which seems omnipotent;
To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates
From its own wreck the thing it contemplates;
Neither to change, nor falter, nor repent;
This, like thy glory, Titan, is to be
Good, great and joyous, beautiful and free;
This is alone Life, Joy, Empire and Victory.
 - Shelley, Prometheus Unbound

To the Glory of God
This bell is dedicated in commemoration of
the fiftieth anniversary of the end
of World War Two and with thanksgiving to
the people of New Zealand for their service
and sacrifice.
By Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Second.
Anno Domini 1995.

For further information see:


[1] 'Carillon handed over to the nation', Horowhenua Chronicle, 26 April 1932, p. 7.

How to cite this page

'Bells of remembrance', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 30-May-2018