Biography

Birth date: 10 February 1896
Birth place: Australia: New South Wales, Sydney, Annandale
Death date: 06 July 1967
Death place: Australia: New South Wales, Sydney, Matraville
Final rank: Lieutenant
Service number: 607 - First World War, 1914-1918
Units:
  • 18 Battalion
  • 18th Australian Infantry Battalion

Joe Maxwell (1896-1967) was an apprentice boilermaker before enlisting in Sydney in February 1915. He served on Gallipoli and the Western Front. Rough, tough, and exceptionally brave, he was commissioned in late 1917. In little more than a year he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM), the Military Cross and Bar, and the Victoria Cross.

On 3 October 1918, Maxwell took over when his company commander was wounded and captured a machine-gun. He then attacked another post. Later he was briefly taken prisoner. During a barrage, he managed to pull out a concealed revolver, shoot two of the enemy, and escape.

Although aged just 22, Maxwell became the second most highly decorated Australian. He later worked in a variety of jobs. His book, Hell's bells and mademoiselles (published 1932), became a war classic. Using an alias, he enlisted in the Second World War but was discovered and discharged.

Maxwell was awarded the Victoria Cross, the Military Cross and Bar, DCM, service medals for the First World War, and coronation medals for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II.

Rolls and Awards

First World War Embarkation Roll

  • Rank: Private
  • Date of embarkation: 25 May 1915
  • Place of embarkation: Sydney

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Military Cross

  • Unit: 18th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 18th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Bar to Military Cross

  • Unit: 18th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 18th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 18th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 18th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 18th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Military Cross

  • Unit: 18th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 18th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Distinguished Conduct Medal

  • Unit: 18th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Military Cross

  • Unit: 18th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Military Cross

  • Unit: 18th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 18th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Military Cross

  • Unit: 18th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Military Cross

  • Unit: 18th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Bar to Military Cross

  • Unit: 18th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Distinguished Conduct Medal

  • Unit: 18th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Distinguished Conduct Medal

  • Unit: 18th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Military Cross

  • Unit: 18th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 18th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Bar to Military Cross

  • Unit: 18th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Collection Items

Photograph

A03696

Retouched portrait of Lieutenant (Lieut) Joseph Maxwell VC MC and Bar DCM, of the 18th Battalion. Lieut Maxwell returned to Australia on 1 May 1919.

A03696

P00171.001

PORTRAIT OF LIEUTENANT JOSEPH MAXWELL VC MC AND BAR, DCM.

P00171.001

P00171.002

SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES. LIEUTENANT JOSEPH MAXWELL VC MC AND BAR DCM.

P00171.002

P01383.007

A portrait of Lieutenant Joseph Maxwell VC MC DCM. This photograph is a portion of P01383.017, a framed composite photograph (photo-montage) presented to Lieutenant John Hamilton VC by Dr Mannix on the occasion of the Saint Patrick's Day celebrations in Melbourne, 17 March 1920. The composite...

P01383.007

P01383.017

A framed composite photograph presented to Lieutenant John Hamilton VC by His Grace the Archbishop of Melbourne and the Irish citizens of Victoria, on the occasion of the Saint Patrick's Day celebrations in Melbourne, 17 March 1920. The composite photograph comprises portraits of fourteen Victoria...

P01383.017

P01383.018

This is a restored version of P01383.017. The original is is a framed composite photograph presented to Lieutenant John Hamilton VC by his Grace the Archbishop of Melbourne and the Irish citizens of Victoria on the occasion of the Saint Patrick's Day celebrations in Melbourne, 17 March 1920. The...

P01383.018

P03390.001

Studio portrait of Lieutenant (Lt) Joseph Maxwell, VC, MC and Bar, DCM. An original member of the 18th Battalion, Lt Maxwell enlisted on 6 February 1915. After serving on the Gallipoli Peninsula, Maxwell went with the battalion to France in late March 1916; he was promoted to sergeant by October,...

P03390.001

E04387

An outdoors group portrait of officers of the 18th Battalion, in the snow. Back row, from left to right: Lieutenant (Lt), unidentified; officer, unidentified; 2nd Lt, unidentified; 2nd Lt MM, unidentified; Lt unidentified; officer MC, unidentified; Lt, unidentified. Middle row: Captain (Capt) MC,...

E04387

P00735.001

Grave marker of Brigadier General Francis Aylmer Maxwell, VC, CSI, DSO of the 18th Tiwana Lancers, Bengal Cavalry, Officer Commanding the 27th Infantry Brigade, British Army. Killed in action 21 September 1917 at the 3rd Battle of Ypres.

P00735.001

P01312.003

PASSCHENDAELE, BELGIUM, 1956. JOSEPH (JOE) MAXWELL VC (LEFT) AND JOHN HAMILTON VC (RIGHT, HOLDING HIS HAT) STAND LOOKING AT THE HEADSTONE ON THE GRAVE IN TYNE COT CEMETERY NEAR PASSCHENDAELE OF ANOTHER VICTORIA CROSS WINNER, SERGEANT LEWIS MCGEE, 40TH BATTALION, KILLED IN ACTION 1917-10-12. MAXWELL...

P01312.003

P10550.127

Group portrait of officers from the 18th Battalion, many of whom are veterans of Gallipoli as indicated by the brass "A" on their colour patches. Identified are, back row: possibly Lieutenant (Lt) Eric Walter Satchell; Lt Lancelot Mervyn Redgrave; Lieutenant (Lt) William Edward Greenwood;...

P10550.127

Heraldry

British War Medal 1914-20 : Lieutenant J Maxwell, 18 Battalion, AIF

British War Medal 1914-20. Engraved around edge with recipient's details. This medal is an official replacement, issued in 1949 for the lost original, which still exists.

OL00413.005

Victoria Cross : Lieutenant J Maxwell, 18 Battalion, AIF

Victoria Cross. Engraved reverse suspender and cross with recipient's details and date of action.

OL00413.001

Military Cross and Bar : Lieutenant J Maxwell, 18 Battalion, AIF

Military Cross (Geo V) and Bar. Unnamed as issued. This medal and Bar are official replacements, issued in 1949 for the lost originals, which still exist.

OL00413.002

Elizabeth II Coronation Medal : J Maxwell

Elizabeth II Coronation Medal. Unnamed as issued.

OL00413.008

Distinguished Conduct Medal : Company Sergeant Major J Maxwell, 18 Battalion, AIF

Distinguished Conduct Medal (Geo V). Engraved around edge with recipient's details. This medal is an official replacement, issued in 1949 for the lost original, which still exists.

OL00413.003

1914-15 Star : Private J Maxwell, 18 Battalion, AIF

1914-15 Star. Engraved on reverse with recipient's details. This medal is an official replacement, issued in 1949 for the lost original, which still exists.

OL00413.004

Victory Medal : Lieutenant J Maxwell, 18 Battalion, AIF

Victory Medal. Engraved around edge with recipient's details. This medal is an official replacement, issued in 1949 for the lost original, which still exists.

OL00413.006

George VI Coronation Medal : J Maxwell

George VI Coronation Medal. Unnamed as issued.

OL00413.007

Timeline

Date of birth 1896-02-10
Date of embarkation 1915-05-25
Date of recommendation honour or award 1917-09-25
Date of recommendation honour or award 1917-09-27
Date of recommendation honour or award 1917-10-25
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-02
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-03-08
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-03-10
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-08-14
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-08-23
Date of honour or award 1918-10-03 Awarded Victoria Cross for action at Beaurevoir line, near Estrees, France whilst serving with 18 Battalion, 5 Brigade, 2 Division as a Lieutenant.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-10-10
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-10-14
Date of death 1967-07-06