Flers bell

  • Height  165 mm
  • Width  190 mm
  • Weight  5 kg
  • Note  D#
Bell Inscription

In Memory of Ian Compton Clark and
John Compton Keasberry.
Given by Louisa Elizabeth Clark and
Annie and Cecil Keasberry.

Cousins Ian Clark and John Keasberry both died in the First World War. Although they never fought side by side, they are remembered together on the Flers bell in the National War Memorial. Their mothers were sisters Louisa Elizabeth Clark (née Compton) and Mary Ann Keasberry (née Compton). Louisa and her sister’s two daughters Annie and Cecil Keasberry, donated the bell in memory of the two men.

John Keasberry

John was the first to join the war effort and also the first to die. Born in 1894 in Pungarehu, Taranaki, he was working as a mechanic when war broke out in August 1914. He departed New Zealand with the Main Body of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force two months later and became a private with the Wellington Battalion. Their destination was initially unknown but they soon arrived in Egypt where they subsequently prepared for the Gallipoli landings. John was among those who participated in the landings on 25 April. He survived the first frantic few days as the Anzacs scrambled to secure a tiny foothold on the peninsula, but on 28 April was killed in action. The 20-year-old’s body was never recovered. He is remembered at Lone Pine Memorial at Gallipoli.

Ian Clark

Ian Compton Clark had a vastly different war experience to that of his younger cousin. The eldest of Louisa and James Clark’s four children, Ian grew up in Kilbirnie, Wellington, but as a young man moved to Inglewood, Taranaki, where he worked as a watchmaker for Ernest Maetzig. In early 1916 he enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force and in April left New Zealand for service overseas. Like his cousin he joined the Wellington Infantry Regiment which was then fighting on the Western Front in France. In September, the New Zealanders joined the ongoing Battle of the Somme. Ian was among the many who lost their lives in the offensive. He was killed in action on 16 September during the second day of the Battle of Flers-Courcelette. His body was never recovered and he is among more than 1200 New Zealanders who are remembered at the Caterpillar Valley (New Zealand) Memorial, near Longueval, France.

The 'Flers' bell by which Ian and John are remembered recalls the name of the battle in which Ian lost his life. The bell is one of seven bells named for the 1916 Somme offensive.  

Further information:

Auckland War Memorial Museum Online Cenotaph record – John Keasberry
Commonwealth War Graves Commission record – John Keasberry

Auckland War Memorial Museum Online Cenotaph record – Ian Clark
Commonwealth War Graves Commission record – Ian Clark

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Bronwyn W

Posted: 18 Oct 2019

John's father was not Cecil, it was William Henry. Unusually, Cecil appears to be John's sister. I can find her death record in 1979 under the name 'Cecil Ellen Mary Keasberry' but not a birth record. She also appears in newspaper articles as 'Miss C. Keasberry'. John's other sister was Annie who is also on the bell. Mary Anne (Compton) was their mother as stated.

Jamie M

Posted: 23 Oct 2019

Thanks, Bronwyn - we've updated the introduction now.