Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Archibald Boyd Maxwell

Archibald Boyd Maxwell : Photograph of Archibald in Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre.  Reference: MR1/23/10

Photograph of Archibald in Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre. Reference: MR1/23/10

Archibald Boyd Maxwell : (L to R) Egypt Medal; Khedive's Star;

(L to R) Egypt Medal; Khedive's Star;

Archibald was born on the 31st January 1858 at 3 South Hill Road in Toxteth, Liverpool. He was baptised on the 15th April at St Anne's Parish Church in nearby Aigburth. He was named after his father and his mother was called Eliza. He had 2 older sisters called Edith M. and Gertrude E., and a younger sister named Lillian M. We believe he also had a brother called James Graham. The family were members of the Church of England.

When Archibald was born his father was a merchant, but by 1861 he had left Liverpool and moved to Drumley Mansion near Tarbolton in Ayrshire, Scotland. He became a 'gentleman', or landed proprietor.

We don't know anything about Archibald's early life. When he was 18 he entered the Royal Military College at Sandhurst to train to be an Army officer. He joined the College on the 20th January 1876. Archibald did not do well. He failed an examination in July 1876 and another in February 1877. As a result of this he was 'removed from [Sandhurst as] being unable to qualify for a commission within the period prescribed by regulations'.

Later that year Archibald tried again. He restarted his training in September and did much better. He received training in a number of different subjects, including Mathematics, Military Tactics, Military Law, Riding, Gymnastics and Drill. His conduct was assessed as 'Good, but inclined to be unpunctual'. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 96th Regiment of Foot on the 1st May 1878. He was 5 feet 6 1/2 inches tall when he was commissioned.

The Regiment was based in Chester at this time. Archibald also served in Manchester and Aldershot with the Regiment until they were sent to Malta on the 11th March 1881. He had qualified as a 1st Class Musketry Instructor during 1879 at a course held at the School of Musketry in Hythe, Kent. On the 19th April of that year he was promoted to Lieutenant.

On the 1st July the 96th Regiment was renamed the 2nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. Later that month Archibald became the battalion's Instructor of Musketry. In August 1882 the men of the battalion were given a chance to use the skills he had taught them, when they went to war in Egypt.

The Anglo-Egyptian War had broken out in June after the pro-British Khedive was deposed. Britain wanted to protect its commercial investments in Egypt, as well as the Suez Canal, which gave access to India.

The 2nd Battalion sailed to Alexandria aboard HMS Euphrates, and arrived on the 17th August. The war ended in September with the British restoring the Khedive to power, but having much more control over the country. Archibald left Egypt on the 13th October for Multan in what is now Pakistan, again aboard HMS Euphrates.

The battalion was based in Multan until late 1885 or early 1886, when they moved to Agra. On the 20th July 1887, in this area of India, Archibald married Helen Frances Pollock. The next month Archibald was appointed Adjutant of the Mussoorie Volunteer Rifle Corps. Archibald and Helen moved to Mussoorie, in the foothills of the Himalayas, to take up this post. Their only child Archibald Boyd Henry was born here on the 4th May 1888.

As Adjutant Archibald was the only Regular Army officer in the unit. He was responsible for organising training and administration for the volunteers, as well as directly managing the other Regular soldiers assigned to the battalion.

Volunteer units in India had been raised after the 1857 Indian Rebellion, or Mutiny. They were manned by men of British or European descent, not native Indians, and their primary job was to protect British families should another rebellion break out. Archibald held this job for just over 5 years, until October 1892. He then returned to the 2nd Battalion for a few months before going to the UK on leave in March 1893.

Archibald was on leave until January 1894. Spending this length of time on leave in the UK was quite common for officers at the time. He returned to the 2nd Battalion, who were in Dinapore, now Danapur, in eastern India. After 15 months here, Archibald returned to the UK again, for 3 months.

In early July Archibald returned to Dinapore. He was promoted to Major later that month, on the 28th July. He served with the battalion until they left India in November 1897. He used some of this time to learn French, German and Hindustani.

After the 2nd Battalion left India they sailed to Aden, now in Yemen. They were to spend a year here, but Archibald was able to take leave in the UK between April and July 1898. He accompanied the entire battalion back to the UK in mid November.

Over the next 16 months the 2nd Battalion was stationed in various parts of the UK, including Manchester, Lichfield in Staffordshire and Aldershot in Hampshire.

Over the course of 1899 tensions between British and Boer settlers in South Africa were rising. War broke out in October 1899. The first few months of the war saw a number of significant defeats for the British, and they began sending as many soldiers as possible to the country.

The 2nd Battalion set sail on the 16th March 1900. They arrived in South Africa during April 1900 and fought there for the rest of the war. They were present at the fighting around Wittebergen in July, and then spent most of the rest of the war taking part in long patrols intended to find and pin down the Boers, who fought in small groups as guerrillas. This was difficult, tiring work, but there were few large battles. They also served as guards in the blockhouses and fence lines that restricted the Boer's movements. The war ended on the 31st May 1902 with a British victory.

Archibald's conduct during the war was recognised by the Army. He was promoted to Brevet Lieutenant Colonel on the 29th November 1900. This meant he could take jobs that required the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, but was still considered a Major in the 2nd Battalion. He was also Mentioned in Despatches written by Field Marshal Frederick Roberts and published in the London Gazette on the 4th September 1901. He had 'rendered special and meritorious service' during the war.

At some point Archibald left the 2nd Battalion and joined the 1st Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. The day after the war ended he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. The 1st Battalion sailed to Singapore in March 1903, and Archibald went with them. It was commanded by John Watson until October, when Archibald took over as Commanding Officer. John's medals are also in the Museum of the Manchester Regiment collection.

Archibald was promoted to Brevet Colonel on the 30th August 1904. Almost 4 months later the battalion boarded the Avoca and set sail for Secunderabad in India. This would be Archibald's home for the rest of his time in command.

After 3 years leading the 1st Battalion, Archibald stepped down on the 1st June 1906. He began to receive retired pay, meaning he had left the Army. We don't know when he and Helen returned to the UK or where they went to live. We believe their son Archibald died aged 22 between January and March 1911 in Aysgarth, North Yorkshire.

By 1927 Archibald and Helen lived at 6 Montpelier Grove in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. We don't know how long they had been there, but this would be their home for the rest of their lives together. Although Archibald joined the Manchester Regiment Old Comrade's Association he is not listed as an attendee at any of their reunion events. He did keep in contact with some of his fellow officers, however.

Archibald died on the 9th October 1941 at Barrington Nursing Home in Cheltenham. He was 83 years old. After he died Helen moved to 10 Portland Terrace in the town. She was 86 when she died on the 13th August 1946.

Archibald's medals came to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in May 1952.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
Heritage Wharf
Ashton-under-Lyne
OL7 0QA

Telephone: 0161 343 2878
Email: Portland.Basin@tameside.gov.uk
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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council