(Service number 32358)

First Rank Rifleman Last Rank Rifleman


Date 10 June 1891 Place of Birth Ashburton, New Zealand

Enlistment Information

Date 27 July 1916 Age 25
Address at Enlistment care Mr S. Rickard, Hinds
Occupation Farm Hand
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mr Robert Maxwell (father), Beautiful Valley, Geraldine, New Zealand
Religion Presbyterian
Medical Information 5 foot 6 1/2 inches tall, weight 170 pounds (77 Kgs), medium complexion, brown hair, blue/grey eyes, chest 38 1/2 - 41 inches, scar above right knee

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 10th Reinforcements, 3rd Battalion, G Company
Date 15 November 1916
Transport HMNZT 68 Maunganui
Embarked From Wellington, New Zealand Destination Plymouth, Devon, England
Other Units Served With 3rd Auckland Infantry Regiment
Last Unit Served With 3rd Auckland Infantry Regiment

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 8 July 1919 Reason No longer physically fit on accounts of wounds received in action

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

2 Feb - 17 Mar 1917 - adm veneral section Codford Hospital. 15 Oct 1917 - gunshot wound to face - adm 1 NZ Fd Amb - trans 3 Aust CCS - trans 9 Gen Hosp - trans 1 NZ Gen Hosp Brockenhurst 29 Oct - Nov 17 discharged to NZ Conv Hosp. 1 Sep 1918 - gunshot wounds to nexk & right ankle - adm 2 NZ Fd Amb - trans 3CCS 3 Sep - trans 2 Can Gen Hosp Le Treport 4 Sep - trans 1 NZ Gen Hosp Brockenhurst Sep 11 - 12 Oct medically boarded as unfit.

Post-war Occupations

Driver & Carrier


Date 7 February 1971 Age 79 years
Place of Death Ashburton, New Zealand
Notices Dept Internal Affairs 12 Feb 1971
Memorial or Cemetery Ashburton Cemetery
Memorial Reference RSA Section Area 264, Plot 23
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

James Maxwell was born at Ashburton on January 18, 1895, the youngest son of Robert (1849-1920) and Sarah Way (nee Worner 1861-1946). 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 first at Wakanui, and later at “Maxwelton”, Beautiful Valley, Geraldine, where Robert was accidently killed in a farming accident in 1920.

James, along with his siblings, was educated at the Riversdale and Skipton schools. He later took up employment as a farm hand with Mr S Rickard at Hinds. At Ashburton, on 12 June 1916, he attended a pre enlistment medical board and was found fit for military service. He entered camp at Trentham on 27 July 1916 where he was posted to G Company, 3rd Battalion, NZ Rifle Brigade. He nominated his father Robert of Beautiful Valley, Geraldine, as his next of kin, and was described as being single, Presbyterian, aged 25, 5 foot 6 ½ inches tall, weighing 170 pounds (77 kgs), with a chest measuring 38½ - 41 inches, having a medium complexion, blue/grey eyes, brown hair, and a scar above his right knee. The usual three weeks basic training followed before moving to Featherston for more in depth training in drill, bayonet fighting, tactics, and musketry. On 15 November 1916 he sailed from Wellington aboard SS “Maunganui” (HMNZT68) as part of the 10th Reinforcements in convoy with SS “Tahiti” (HMNZT69) via the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Province, and the Republic of South Africa, before arriving at Plymouth, Devon, England on 29 January 1917.

On arrival in England they were marched into Sling Camp, then the chief NZ training camp situated in the heart of the Salisbury Plains. James continued training with the 5th Reserve Battalion, 3 NZ Rifle Brigade, D Company. On 2 February 1917 he was admitted to Codford Hospital where he underwent treatment until discharge on 17 March. Remaining at Codford Camp, he was transferred to the 3rd Auckland Infantry Regiment on 2 May, and was posted to the 15th Company. On 28 May 1917 he left for France, arriving in time for the June battle at Messines, followed by Passchendaele in October. Here on 15 October he was wounded in action, receiving a gunshot wound to the face. He was first admitted to 1 NZ Field Ambulance before transfer to 3 Australian CCS (Casualty Clearing Station). He transferred again to 9 General Hospital on 19 October, then transferred to 1 NZ General Hospital at Brockenhurst on 29 October. A further transfer to the NZ Convalescent Hospital at Hornchurch took place on 17 November before final discharge to the Command Depot at Codford. Here wounded or invalided soldiers were sent to be “hardened” up for further active service.

On 18 March 1918 he was detached to the Reserve Group at Sling Camp, from where he left again for France on 6 June, marching into the camp at Etaples. On 12 June he was posted to the 2nd Battalion Auckland Regiment in the field. During the months of April to July the NZ Division was busy holding the line. Extremely heavy fighting was taking place round Armentieres in the north, and Rheims in the South. On 10 August Rifleman Maxwell was temporarily detached to the Division Lewis Gun School for two weeks training. By now the Aucklanders were fighting around the Bapaume area, and on 1 September, during an attack on the Bancourt-Bertincourt Road, James was wounded for the second time with gunshot wounds to the neck and right ankle (severe). He was admitted to 2 NZ Field Ambulance, and then transferred to 3CCS on 3 September. He transferred to 2 Canadian General Hospital at Le Treport the next day before being transferred again to 1 NZ General Hospital at Brockenhurst, England, on 11 September. On 12 October 1918 he was medically boarded, found unfit, and placed on the NZ Roll.

James boarded SS “Marama” at Southampton on 19 December 1918, returning as part of returning Draft 206 which arriving at Wellington on 30 January 1919. He was then placed on sick leave until 6 February, before undergoing treatment at Queen Mary Hospital at Hanmer. On 10 June he went on final leave, before receiving his discharge as no longer physically fit on account of wounds received in action on 8 July 1919. On Friday 3 August, at a social at the Gapes Valley Hall, James received a very pleasant welcome home, and was presented with a suitably inscribed gold medal for his service. Later he received the British War Medal and Victory Medals for his 2 years and 349 days service.

James spent the remainder of his life in the Ashburton District working as a driver and carrier. In 1955 he married Rosaline Maud John, and was living at 140 Burnett Street, Ashburton, when he died aged 79 years on February 7, 1971. He is buried in the Soldiers Section of the Ashburton Cemetery.

Three of James 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 289 March 1918. His name is inscribed on the Grevillers (NZ) Memorial. 16314 Trooper Robert Maxwell DCM, served with the Imperial Camel Corps in Palestine, but died of wounds on 31 March 1918. He is buried in the Damascus Commonwealth War Cemetery. 54064 Rifleman Edward 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 lost two sons, and already had two others serving overseas – so the doctor turned him down due to him having flat feet.


"Valley lads fighting for their country', Timaru Herald 21 April 2018 at; New Zealand ANZACs in the Great War 1914-1918 (University of New South Wales) at; 'Wounded and admitted to hospital' Oamaru Mail 15 October 1917 p4, 'Town & Country' column - letter to Gapes & Beautiful Valley Patriotic Committee from hospital – Timaru Herald 2 Febraury 1918 p6, 'Soldiers returning' Otago Daily Times 21 January 1919 p3, and 'A soldier's social' Timaru Herald 8 August 1919 p4, courtesy of Papers Past at; Ashburton District Council cemetrery records at (November 2018)

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Researched and Written by

Ted Hansen, SC branch NZSG

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