Recent research showed that the in-plane horizontal displacement capacity of unreinforced masonry (URM) walls depends on numerous factors that are not yet captured by current empirical drift capacity models; e.g., axial stress, shear span, geometry of the walls and the material used. In order to improve the performance-based assessment of URM wall buildings, future research should aim at developing numerical and mechanical models that link the global force-displacement response of URM walls to local deformation measures such as strains. This paper addresses the behaviour of modern clay brick masonry and makes first contributions to such an endeavour by the evaluation of experimental results: first, two sets of limit states are proposed that link local damage limit states to characteristic points of the global force-displacement response of the URM wall. The two sets define limit states for walls developing a shear or a flexural mechanism respectively. Second, local deformation measures deemed suitable for the characterisation of these limit states are evaluated from optical measurement data of quasi-static cyclic wall tests. These include strains, compression zone depth and the ratio of shear to flexural deformations.