Topic: Maxwell Stewart Bain

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Maxwell Stewart Bain (Service No. 7/600) was a First World War soldier with links to Upper Riccarton.

Maxwell Stewart Bain was born in Dunedin on August 6th 1877. His parents were Kenneth Burns Bain, and Mary Ann Bain. Maxwell’s mother was christened Mary Ann Forsyth, but took the surname of her husband, Bain, after marrying in 1875 in New Zealand. Six more children were born into the family; Christina Stewart (born 1882), Kenneth Burns, (1883), Margaret Clark Mariner (1885), Mary Stewart (1886), Thomas (1888) and James Bain (1891). The family eventually settled into a house at 8 Riccarton Road, named Doonside. Kenneth Bain died  August 4th 1922, aged 76 years and Mary Bain died May 28th 1930, aged 83 years. They are both buried at Balcairn cemetery.


Maxwell’s father, Kenneth Burns Bain, immigrated to New Zealand from Scotland in 1849 with his father and mother; Thomas Bain and Christian Sprott Stewart. Kenneth was 3 years old according to the passenger list of the ship “Mariner”. Thomas, who was a tailor, and Christian were married July 28th 1845 in Crichton, Midlothian, Scotland. One more child was born in New Zealand, Mary Stewart, in 1851. Unfortunately Thomas Bain died only 3 years after arriving in New Zealand. He was buried in Dunedin’s first cemetery, the Arthur Street Cemetery, in 1853. Christian (sometimes called Christina) remarried in 1856 to an older man, James Paterson. Tragedy followed Christian as she lost an infant, Sarah, in 1858 and was widowed again in 1861. Christian died on Christmas Day 1893 at the age of 74 and was buried in the Southern Cemetery in Dunedin.


Maxwell Bain signed up to go to the Boer War in South Africa in April 1902 and was given the Service No. 9370. He went away with the 10th Contingent, South Island Battalion, G Squadron. He was in Natal when the war ended on May 31st 1902. When he returned, he went back to his profession as a shepherd for the Christchurch Meat Company and continued to take part in Presbyterian Sunday services.  


Maxwell enrolled for World War I on July 28th 1914. He was given a new service number 7/600. His Army file lists his main features as blue eyes, fair hair, fair complexion and he was 5 feet, 11 inches tall. He had a scar on the bridge of his nose and one above his right eyebrow. Maxwell gave his next of kin as his father but also gave the address of an aunt, Miss Paterson, who was living at the Ladies Imperial Club in Dover Street, London.


Maxwell left New Zealand on August 28th 1914, exactly one month after the war started, and arrived in Alexandria, Egypt on December 3rd 1914. After a 50 day training period he was deployed to Gallipoli in Turkey. He arrived two weeks after the initial ANZAC landing, and was moved to the trenches and survived for 123 days. He was reported missing on August 21st 1915,  the first day of the Battle for Hill 60. He was confirmed dead on  August 25th at the age of 38. Maxwell Stewart Bain’s grave is unknown but he is remembered on the Hill 60 (New Zealand) Memorial at the Hill 60 Cemetery along with another 180 New Zealanders including some of his fellow comrades from the Canterbury Mounted Rifles. This cemetery is in an isolated position on the Gallipoli Peninsula and you need to walk the last 600 metres up a rugged track or go by 4 wheel drive if the track is wet.


Maxwell left all his money and possessions totalling £19 and 17 shillings to his parents.


Maxwell’s youngest brother James (Service No. 7/302) also went to the War, however, he returned to New Zealand after recurring bouts of malaria and a gunshot wound to the leg. As a young man he had played cricket and rugby for Boys High School and been a leading sportsman in Canterbury. Sadly, he died at age 50 on October 3rd 1941 at Tai Tapu only two years after another brother, Thomas, died from a fall from the water tower at the Christchurch Tram Depot on  November18th 1939. A fourth brother, Kenneth, applied for and was granted an exemption from army service because of his job at the State Fire Department (a government owned insurance company).


In total, the medals Maxwell received were the New Zealand Medal, Queen's South Africa Medal, King's South Africa Medal and the 1914-15 Star.


Maxwell is remembered on the Hill 60 (New Zealand) Memorial in Turkey, Waitaki Boy’s High school Roll of Honour and on the Upper Riccarton Memorial Library Roll of Honour.


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