3 December 2020

Medal entitlement of Lieutenant Joseph Maxwell,
18th Bn, Australian Imperial Force

  • Victoria Cross
  • Military Cross ( MC ) & Bar
  • Distinguished Conduct Medal ( DCM )
  • 1914-15 Star
  • British War Medal ( 1914-20 )
  • Victory Medal ( 1914-19 )
  • King George VI Coronation Medal ( 1937 )
  • Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal ( 1953 )

  • British War Medal naming

The original British War Medal ( 1914-20 ) issued to Lieutenant Joseph Maxwell, 18th Bn, Australian Imperial Force, has been sold at auction by Dix Noonan Webb of London, on the 3rd December 2020. The sale estimate was between £800 to £1,200. The sale hammer price realised £1,900. The identity of the purchaser has not been revealed.

In 1949 a replacement trio of WWI campaign medals, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal, were issued to Joseph Maxwell after he had lost the originals.

For the award of the Victoria Cross.

[ London Gazette, 6 January 1919 ]. Beaurevoir-Fonsomme Line, near Estrées, France, 3 October 1918, Lieutenant Joseph Maxwell, 18th Bn, Australian Imperial Forces.

For most conspicuous bravery and leadership in attack on the Beaurevoir-Fonsomme line near Estrées, north of St. Quentin, on the 3rd October 1918.

His company commander was severely wounded early in the advance, and Lieutenant Maxwell at once took charge. The enemy wire when reached under intense fire was found to be exceptionally strong and closely supported by machine-guns, whereupon Lieutenant Maxwell pushed forward single-handed through the wire and captured the most dangerous gun, killing three and capturing four enemy. He thus enabled his company to penetrate the wire and reach the objective.

Later, he again pushed forward and silenced, single-handed, a gun which was holding up a flank company. Subsequently, when with two men only he attempted to capture a strong party of the enemy, he handled a most involved situation very skilfully, and it was owing to his resource that he and his comrades escaped. Throughout the day Lieutenant Maxwell set a high example of personal bravery, coupled with excellent judgement and quick decision.

Joseph Maxwell was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on the 8th March 1919.

Joe Maxwell died on 6th July 1967 at his home in Matraville, New South Wales. He was cremated at the Eastern Suburbs Crematorium, Sydney, and his ashes scattered in the Garden of Remembrance.

For the award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal ( DCM )

[ London Gazette, 19 November 1917 ], Third Battle of Ypres, Belgium, 25 September 1917, Company Sergeant Major Joseph Maxwell, 18th Bn, Australian Imperial Force

He took command of a platoon whose officer had been killed, and led it in the attack. An hour later he noticed that one of the newly-captured positions was under heavy enemy fire. Maxwell dashed to it and led the men out to a safer, yet tactically equal, position - an action which undoubtedly saved many lives.

For the award of Military Cross ( MC )

[ London Gazette, 13 May 1918 ], Ploegsteert, Belgium, March 1918, Lieutenant Joseph Maxwell, 18th Bn, Australian Imperial Force

Having obtained the required information he ordered the patrol to withdraw. With three others he formed a covering party for the main body as they returned to their lines. Then, about sixty yards away, Maxwell spotted a party of about thirty Germans. He at once recalled the patrol, reorganised them for an attack and led a charge on the Germans, who were sheltering in an old trench. Maxwell and his patrol attacked the trench with rifles and bombs forcing the enemy to quickly withdraw leaving three dead and one wounded.

For the award of a Bar to the Military Cross ( MC )

[ London Gazette, 1 February 1919 ], Rainecourt, Belgium, 9 August 1918, Lieutenant Joseph Maxwell, 18th Bn, Australian Imperial Force

Under his leadership, the company got away on time, still under heavy fire. They were preceded by a tank, when a German 77 mm shell scored a direct hit on it, and the tank stopped. Maxwell immediately leapt to the tank's hatch, opened it and allowed the crew to escape. Shortly afterwards the tank burst into flames and blew up. Maxwell assisted the tank commander back for some distance then returned, pressed on with the attack, and succeeded in reaching and consolidating the objective.


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Iain Stewart, 3 December 2020