(Service number 54064)

First Rank Rifleman Last Rank Rifleman


Date 18 January 1895 Place of Birth Ashburton, New Zealand

Enlistment Information

Date 3 April 1917 Age 22
Address at Enlistment Beautiful Valley, Geraldine, New Zealand
Occupation Ploughman
Previous Military Experience 2nd South Canterbury Regiment
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mr Robert Maxwell (father), Beautiful Valley, Geraldine, New Zealand
Religion Presbyterian
Medical Information 5 foot 8 3/4 inches tall, weighed 168 pounds (76 kgs), chest measuring 36-40 inches, fair complexion, grey eyes, dark hair, good teeth

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Rifle Brigade
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 27th Reinforcments J Company
Date 16 July 1917
Transport HMNZT 88 Athenic
Embarked From Wellington, New Zealand Destination Liverpool, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With NZ Rifle Brigade

Military Awards

Campaigns Western Europe
Service Medals British War Medal & Victory Medal
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date


Date 17 September 1919 Reason End of engagement

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

6 Dec 1917 - adm 3 Fd Amb - trench foot - 8 Dec trans 2 Canadian Stat Hosp Outreau - 15 Feb 1918 discharged to Etaples. 27 Feb 1918 - adm 46 Stat Hosp - 3 Apr evacuated to 2 NZ Gen Hosp Walton - 8 Apr trans Hornchurch - 22 Jun discharged to Codford

Post-war Occupations

Farmer, Carpenter


Date 27 February 1974 Age 79
Place of Death Timaru Hospital
Notices Dept Internal Affairs 13 March 1974
Memorial or Cemetery Geraldine, New Zealand
Memorial Reference General Section, Row 372, Plot 9
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Edward Maxwell was born at Ashburton on 18 January 1895, the youngest son of Robert (1849-1920) and Sarah Way (nee Worner 1861-1946) Maxwell. His mother Sarah was born at Martock, Somerset, England, and came out to New Zealand with her parents on the “Rangitikei” about 1878. His father Robert was born at Stronsay on the Orkney Islands. They married in 1883, and later farmed “Maxwelton” at Beautiful Valley, Geraldine, where Robert was accidently killed on Monday 15 November 1920. Edward was educated at the Riversdale and Skipton schools, later taking up work as a ploughman for his father.

The Defence Act of 1909 had created the Territorial Forces - all young men between 18 and 21 (later extended to 25) had to register for military service, so prior to enlisting, Edward was a member of the 2nd South Canterbury Regiment. He attended a medical board at Geraldine on 19 March 1917, passed medically fit, and on 3 April 1917 enlisted at Ashburton, naming his father as his next of kin. He was described as being aged 22 years, single, Presbyterian, 5 foot 8¾ inches tall, weighed 168 pounds (76 kgs), with a chest measuring 36–40 inches, a fair complexion, grey eyes, dark hair, and good teeth. He entered camp at Trentham where he was posted to the NZ Rifle Brigade J Company. Here Rifleman Maxwell began three weeks of recruit training before moving to Featherston to spend seven weeks further training which included drill, bayonet fighting, tactics and musketry.

On 16 July 1917, as part of the 27th reinforcements, Rifleman Maxwell left from Wellington aboard HMNZT88 “Athenic”, in convoy with HMNZT87 “Tahiti”. Their destination was Liverpool, England via Cape Town, arriving on 16 September. Immediately on arrival he was posted to the Reserve Battalion at Tidworth Pennings. This was a temporary canvas camp only fit for use in the summer, and only used for a short time before moving to a permanent camp at Brocton, Staffordshire on 27 September 1917. Brockton was no holiday camp either, being a bleak and dreary upland surrounded by charming countryside dotted with quaint old-time villages. Here the troops received further training in gas and trench warfare, plus fighting skills. From here, on 23 October 1917, he left for France, marching into camp at Etaples. Etaples was a much detested camp where discipline was harsh, and the men were further trained for the front line. On 2 November he joined 3 NZ Rifle Brigade C Company in the field, which at this time was involved in the attacks at Passchendaele, part of the 3rd Battle of Ypres. On 6 December 1917, Edward was admitted to 3 Field Ambulance suffering from trench foot, and was subsequently transferred to No 2 Canadian Stationary Hospital at Outreau on 8 December. From here on 15 February 1918 he was transferred back to the base at Etaples where, on 27 February, he was admitted to No 46 Stationary Hospital. On 3 April he was evacuated to England aboard the Hospital Ship “Stat Antwerpen” and admitted to No 2 NZ General Hospital at Walton on Thames. As his recovery progressed he was transferred on 8 April to Hornchurch before discharge to Codford on 22 June. He was taken back on strength of the Reserve Battalion at Brockton two months later on 22 August, after which he again left for France on 28 September. On 8 October he re-joined his unit in the field in time for the battles of the River Selle and Belle Vue Spur, before finally taking part in the fighting at Le Quesnoy in late October. After this they returned to billets in the Beauvois-en-Cambresis and Fontaine area to begin refitting and retraining until receiving the telegram in the early hours of 11 November stating “Hostilities cease at 11am to-day”.

The New Zealand Division was detailed to form part of the Army of Occupation across the Rhine so, on 28 November, the NZ Rifle Brigade (as part of the NZ Division) began the long march to Germany, reaching Cologne just before Christmas. The end was now rapidly approaching. Demobilization had begun on 26 December, when the first draft of men left for England en route for New Zealand. By the end of January, drafts from the Division were leaving at the rate of 1,000 men per week; and a further 40 men per day were being despatched to England on leave, on completion of which they reported to the depots there rather than returning to Germany. Finally on 2 July 1919 it was Edward’s turn. He left from Liverpool with Draft 273, one of 1967 troops aboard SS “Somerset”, arriving at Lyttelton on 20 August. While on some well-deserved home leave, Edward was presented with a gold medal at a welcome home function at Gapes Valley on Friday night 12 September. He was finally discharged from the army on 17 September 1919 after having served a total of 2 years and 141 days. Later he was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medals.

After his discharge Edward returned to the family farm at Beautiful Valley, Geraldine, which was his address up until 1948. On 29 August 1929 Edward married Miss Ethel Maude Somerville (1894-1984), daughter of Henry and Mary (nee McFarlane) Somerville of Geraldine, at the Geraldine Presbyterian Church. From 1954 to 1963 their address was the old family home of Ethel at 49 Wilson Street, Geraldine, where Edward’s occupation was listed as carpenter. In 1972 they were at 31 Wilson Street. Edward died there, aged 79 years, on 27 February 1974. He was buried in the Geraldine Cemetery. His wife Ethel died on September 19, 1984, aged 90 years, and was buried in with Edward.

Three of Edward’s brothers also served overseas during the war: 15928 Rifleman Charles Maxwell served with the NZ Rifle Brigade, and was killed in action on the Somme on 28 March 1918; 16314 Trooper Robert Maxwell DCM, served with the Imperial Camel Corps in Palestine, and died of wounds on 31 March 1918; 32358 Rifleman James Maxwell served with the NZ Rifle Brigade in France, and survived to return home. A fifth brother, Reginald, tried to join up, but the family doctor thought that the family had suffered enough – they had already lost of two sons and two others serving overseas – so he turned him down as he had flat feet.


"Valley lads fighting for their country' in the Timaru Herald 21 April 2018 ( New Zealand ANZACs in the Great War 1914-1918 (University of New South Wales) at; 'Personal' column Temuka Leader 5 April 1917 p2, 'Roll of honour' Timaru Herald 22 April 1918 p2, 'Returning soldiers' Temuka Leader 7 August 1919 p3, and 'District news' Temuka Leader 16 September 1919 p2, courtesy of Papers Past at; Timaru District Council cemetery records at (November 2018)

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Related Documents

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Researched and Written by

Ted Hansen, SC branch NZSG

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