Lieutenant (Later Brigadier General) Francis Aylmer Maxwell
Maxwell was 28 years old, and a lieutenant attached to Roberts’s Light Horse during the Second Boer War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC:
On 31 March 1900 at Sanna’s Post (aka Korn Spruit), South Africa,
Lieutenant Maxwell was one of three Officers not belonging to “Q” Battery, Royal Horse Artillery, specially mentioned by Lord Roberts as having shown the greatest gallantry, and disregard of danger, in carrying out the self-imposed duty of saving the guns of that Battery during the affair at Korn Spruit on 31st March, 1900.
This Officer went out on five different occasions and assisted, to bring in two guns and three limbers, one of which he Captain Humphreys, and some Gunners, dragged in by hand. He also went out with Captain Humphreys and Lieutenant Stirling to try to get the last gun in, and remained there till the attempt was abandoned.
During a previous Campaign (the Chitral Expedition of 1895) Lieutenant Maxwell displayed gallantry in the removal of the body of Lieutenant-Colonel F. D. Battye, Corps of Guides, under fire, for which, though recommended, he received no reward.
During the First World War Maxwell was the commander of the 12th Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment, and later of the 27th Brigade, He came to be regarded as one of the finest combat commanders serving in the British Army on the Western Front. He was an aggressive commander who was also both an original thinker and popular with his men.
Despite his rank, Maxwell was frequently at the front line. He was killed in action, shot by a German sniper, during the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge on 21 September 1917. He is buried in Ypres Reservoir Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery. The gravestone inscription states: “An ideal soldier and a very perfect gentleman beloved by all his men.”
The Sphere 30th April 1901