Abraham Heights bell

Abraham Heights bell

  • Height  578 mm
  • Width  711 mm
  • Weight  232 kg
  • Note  D#
Bell Inscription

Abraham Heights
In Memory of Edward (Ted) Levy.
Given by his Mother, Frances Levy.

Edward ‘Ted’ Levy was born in 1890 in Dunedin, the son of Abraham and Frances Levy. His father was in the cloth trade and had worked for Hallenstein Brothers of Dunedin before he established his own firm in Wellington a few years after Ted’s birth. The Levy family became well-known members of the Wellington Jewish community and within a few years of starting his business, Abraham was one of the district’s main uniform manufacturers. 

Ted worked for his father, but in September 1916 he left his job and signed up for war service. He joined the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, and was made a sergeant. In September 1917, just before leaving England for the Western Front, Ted met with his brother Captain Louis Levy, whom he had not seen for 12 years and who was serving in the Royal Army Medical Corps. The brothers had only one day together before Ted left for the front, and he died a few weeks later. A photo of the brothers taken that day was reproduced in the Freelance newspaper after Ted’s death.

Ted was classed as ‘missing’ after the Battle of Passchendaele on 12 October 1917, known as New Zealand’s ‘blackest day’, on which there were around 2700 New Zealand casualties. His body was never found, so a Court of Enquiry was required to rule that he had been killed in action. At the enquiry a fellow soldier recounted that he was with Sergeant Levy in the trenches when a shell landed among them, and no one in the section saw Levy again. Ted is memorialised at the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium, and on his family grave in the Jewish section of the Karori Cemetery.

These were difficult times for the Levy family – as well as the loss of Ted, his father struggled to keep up with the huge military uniform orders placed during the war, and then was charged with breaching the delivery dates on his contracts and with sewing uniforms with unsatisfactory thread. Abraham never recovered from his son’s death and died in 1918 at the age of 57.  

The bell was given by Ted’s mother, Frances, and is named ‘Abraham Heights’, after a feature on Gravenstafel Ridge, near Passchendaele, that the New Zealanders had captured on 4 October. It is possible the name was chosen to honour Ted’s father’s name, and perhaps his Jewish heritage.

Further information:

Auckland War Memorial Museum Online Cenotaph record – Ted Levy
Commonwealth War Graves Commission record – Ted Levy

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