Beaumont Hamel bell

  • Height  241 mm
  • Width  279 mm
  • Weight  16 kg
  • Note  G#
Bell Inscription

Beaumont Hamel
In memory of Kenneth Owen de Cent
and Hugh Edward Wood.
Given by Norman Gordon de Cent and
Marjorie L.F. de Cent.

The Beaumont Hamel bell is one of several bells named for locations where the New Zealand Division fought on the Western Front in 1918. The bell is dedicated to the memory of Gisborne men Kenneth de Cent and Hugh Wood, both of whom died that year.

Kenneth de Cent

Born in 1891 to parents Joseph and Sarah de Cent, Kenneth was working as an accountant for the Gisborne Meat Company when he enlisted for service in 1915. He was quickly singled out as having officer potential and became a second lieutenant before leaving New Zealand in mid-1916. Once at the front, Kenneth joined the Otago Infantry Regiment and continued to advance up the ranks, becoming first a lieutenant and then a captain in late 1917.

In March 1918 the New Zealand Division was rushed south from Flanders to the Somme to fill a gap in the line after the Germans launched their Spring Offensive. About two weeks later, on 10 April, Kenneth was wounded in the chest. He died in hospital two days later and was buried in the Doullens Communal Cemetery Extension no. 1. 

Hugh Wood

Hugh Wood was born in Auckland in 1895 to parents George and Isabella Wood. The family later moved to Gisborne where Hugh was working as a carpenter for his father, a builder, when he enlisted in 1915. By April the following year he had arrived on the Western Front where he became a rifleman with the 3rd New Zealand Rifle Brigade.

As a member of an infantry brigade, Hugh participated in many of the New Zealand Division’s major engagements on the Western Front throughout 1916 and 1917, including the Somme and Messines and the attack on Gravenstafel Spur on 4 October 1917. He was posted to the reinforcement camp on 9 October, missing the disastrous drive on Passchendaele three days later.

In March 1918 the Rifle Brigade returned to the Somme to help repel the German Spring Offensive. On 15 May, as the New Zealanders settled back into routine trench warfare, Hugh was killed in action. He is buried at the Sailly-au-Bois Military Cemetery. 

Gifting of the bell

Both Kenneth and Hugh were commemorated on the Carillon bell ‘Beaumont Hamel’. This bell was given by Norman de Cent (Kenneth’s brother) and his wife Marjorie (Hugh’s sister), in memory of both men. The bell was named for a small village on the Western Front where the New Zealand Division was located during the German Spring Offensive, not far from where Kenneth was mortally wounded.

Further information

Auckland War Memorial Museum Online Cenotaph record – Kenneth de Cent

Commonwealth War Graves Commission record – Kenneth de Cent

Auckland War Memorial Museum Online Cenotaph record – Hugh Wood

Commonwealth War Graves Commission record – Hugh Wood

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