Francis Aylmer Maxwell

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Francis Aylmer Maxwell
Nickname(s) Frank Maxwell
Born 7 September 1871
Guildford, Surrey
Died 21 September 1917 (aged 46)
Ypres, Belgium
Buried at Ypres Reservoir Cemetery
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch British Indian Army
Years of service 1893–1917 
Rank Brigadier General
Unit Indian Staff Corps
Commands held 27th Infantry Brigade, 9th (Scottish) Division
Battles/wars Chitral Expedition
Tirah Campaign
Second Boer War
World War I
Awards Victoria Cross
Order of the Star of India
Distinguished Service Order

Brigadier General Francis Aylmer Maxwell VC, CSI, DSO & Bar (7 September 1871 – 21 September 1917) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross (VC), the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Boer War[edit]

Maxwell was 28 years old, and a lieutenant in the Indian Staff Corps, Indian Army, 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.[1]

Major Edmund Phipps-Hornby, Sergeant Charles Parker, Gunner Isaac Lodge and Driver Horace Glasock also earned the Victoria Cross in this action.

World War 1[edit]

As commander of the 12th Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment, them of 27th Brigade, 9th (Scottish) Division Maxwell 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.[2]

Despite his rank, Maxewll 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.[2] He is buried in Ypres Reservoir Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery.[3]

General Maxwell is commemorated with a plaque in St. Giles Cathedral on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland.[4] Maxwell's medals are now held in the Lord Ashcroft collection after sale at auction.[5] His wife, Charlotte Maxwell, published a volume of his edited letters in 1921.[6]


  1. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27292. p. 1649. 8 March 1901. Retrieved 30 November 2009.
  2. ^ a b John (1 June 2002). Who's Who in World War I. Routledge. p. 202. ISBN 978-1-134-76752-6. 
  3. ^ Profile
  4. ^ UK War Memorial listing for his monument in St, Giles
  5. ^ Auction information
  6. ^ Maxwell, Charlotte (1921). Frank Maxwell Brig. General, V.C., C.S.I., D.S.O. A Memoir and Some Letters. London: John Murray. p. 228. 

External links[edit]

Maxwell's memorial in St. Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh