Private Harry Maxwell


This North Irish Horseman was born with the name John (or Henry John) Maidment in June or July 1864 at Melbury Abbas, Shaftesbury, Dorset, one of at least four children of agricultural labourer Alfred Maidment and his wife Jane (née Hoare). It appears that he served for a period in the Dorset Regiment before moving to Belfast and working there as a musician.

On 27 February 1895 he married Margaret Wilson in St Anne's Church of Ireland Parish Church, Belfast. The couple had seven children over the next 17 years. By the time of the 1911 Census they were living at 18 Seaview Street, Belfast, Henry working as a motorman.

On 23 October 1913 Maidment enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Belfast (No.870). No doubt concerned that he would be rejected because of his age (49), he gave a false name – Harry Maxwell – and stated his age as 28 years and 6 months. He stated his profession as musician, and was probably posted to the regimental band.

Mobilised at the beginning of the war, Maidment (Maxwell) soon fell ill. On 30 August 1914 he faced a medical board at Belfast. He told them his true age, and that he "had acute Rheumatism in 1909 ... Has suffered from pains in all limbs – frequently since initial attack, & is there[fore] unfit to walk or for work of any kind."

The board concluded that he was suffering from 'valvular disease of the heart (mitral obstruction)' and recommended that he be discharged as permanently unfit for further military service. He was discharged on 14 September (paragraph 154(xi), Special Reserve Regulations), his military conduct recorded as 'very good'.

Maidment died at his daughter's home, 5 Chesham Terrace, Ardenlee Avenue, Belfast, on 24 March 1959, aged 94. He was buried in the Dundonald Cemetery.