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Couin bell

Couin bell

  • Height   197 mm
  • Width   241 mm
  • Weight   10 kg
  • Note   B
Bell inscription

In Memory of Laurence Harvey Butler.
Given by his Mother.

The ‘Couin’ bell is dedicated to the memory of Laurence Harvey Butler, a Wellingtonian who died on the Western Front during the summer of 1918.

Laurence was born in 1894 to labourer Robert Butler and his wife, Eleanora (also called Ellan and Nelly). Although he listed his occupation as a self-employed pianist, it is possible he was already involved with the military, as he was living at Fort Ballance, a defensive fortification on the Wellington coast, when he enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.

Laurence left Wellington for overseas service in April 1916, arriving in England for final training in August. He joined the New Zealand Field Artillery on the Western Front later that year.

On 4 November 1916, Laurence was sentenced to seven days Field Punishment No. 1 for being absent without permission. He spent most of the following year in hospital for several different skin diseases, such as inflamed connective tissue and scabies, as well as bronchitis.

On 10 July 1918 the New Zealand Division was based east of Couin, a small village in northern France, when Laurence was wounded in the chest. He died later that day at a casualty clearing station behind the front lines. He is buried at the Bagneux British Cemetery in Gézaincourt, France.

Elenora, who gifted the bell in her son’s memory, had another son who also served. Frederick Dudley Butler enlisted in August 1916, a few months after his older brother. He served overseas for more than two years before he was discharged due to a knee injury in March 1919. 

Further information

Auckland War Memorial Museum Online Cenotaph record – Laurence Butler

Commonwealth War Graves Commission record – Laurence Butler

Auckland War Memorial Museum Online Cenotaph record – Fred Butler

Heritage New Zealand – Fort Ballance