No. 30133, 11th (Lonsdale) Battalion, Border Regiment
Died of war wounds and disease on Tuesday 23 April 1918 (aged 21)
St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, France (Grave P. IX. B. 1A)
Silloth War Memorial (Aikin)
Donaghadee and District War Memorial (Aiken)
Donaghadee Parish Church of Ireland Church (Aiken)
Family grave headstone (Aikin)
In some records his surname is spelt Aikin, in others Aicken and in others Akin.
Maxwell Aiken was born on 29 March 1897 in Back Street, Donaghadee and he was a son of Henry Lindsay Aiken and Agnes (Aggie) Aiken (nee Boomer) who were married on 25 December 1890 in the Mariners’ Church of Ireland Church Belfast. Henry Lindsay Aikin (aged 18) of 11 Mount Collier Road, Belfast was a son of Maxwell Aikin, a labourer. Agnes Boomer (aged 17) of 59 Fleet Street, Belfast was a daughter of Henry Boomer, a sailor.
The Aiken family lived at 31 Back Street, Ballycross and later at 8 Railway Street, Donaghadee.
Henry Aiken was a general labourer before being appointed gas manager and he and Agnes had nine children:
Henry (born 21 July 1891 in Back Street, Donaghadee)
An un-baptised girl (born 11 May 1893, died 11 May 1893)
Madeline (born 17 September 1894 in Back Street, Donaghadee)
Thomas McMinn (born 16 August 1895 in Back Street, Donaghadee; died 6 May 1896)
Maxwell (born 29 March 1897 in Back Street, Donaghadee)
Jane (born 17 June 1906 in Railway Street, Donaghadee)
Desmond (born 20 May 1909 in Railway Street, Donaghadee)
Kennedy (born 12 November 1910 in Railway Street, Donaghadee)
Annie Agatha (born 3 November 1911 in Railway Street, Donaghadee)
Maxwell Aicken was baptised in Donaghadee Parish Church of Ireland Church and, after leaving school, he worked as a general labourer.
Sometime after November 1913 the Aiken family left Donaghadee. They travelled south through Ireland and crossed over to southern England where they spent some time in Dover before travelling north and settling in Silloth, Cumberland (now Cumbria).
Henry Aiken was appointed Manager of Silloth Gas Works and the Aiken family lived at 5 Skiddaw Street, Silloth.
Maxwell Aiken enlisted in Carlisle and joined the 3rd Line Battalion of the Territorial Force of the 5th Battalion of the Border Regiment.
In late 1916 he was transferred to the 11th Battalion and went to France.
The war diary indicates that the 11th Battalion of the Border Regiment was relieved from the front line by the 1st Dorsets in February 1918.
The men were bathed, deloused and issued with straw, palliasses and an extra blanket.
They had musketry, bombing and Lewis Gun training and they played a football match against the 10th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. They lost by one goal.
The 11th Battalion of the Border Regiment went back into the front line from 3 to 21 March 1918 and during that period suffered some casualties, as they did during the German Spring Offensive.
The alternating pattern of front line service and recuperation continued through April and it was on 23 April 1918 that Private Maxwell Aiken died.
He was 21 when he died and he was buried in St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen.
In some records Private Maxwell Aiken is reported as having ‘died’ and Tony Goddard, the Assistant Curator in Cumbria’s Military Museum, has concluded that this probably means he died of disease. Although Rouen was behind the lines it was frequently bombed by the enemy. There were several base hospitals there and St Sever was the cemetery used by these hospitals when necessary.
In the Aiken Family Bible, it is recorded that Maxwell died of pneumonia and war wounds after 1 year 8 months active service in France and Belgium.
Maxwell Aiken’s father, Henry, died on 15 October 1926 (some records 1925, aged 55).
His mother, Agnes, died on 18 February 1960.
Private Maxwell Aiken is commemorated on Silloth War Memorial (as Aikin); on Donaghadee and District War Memorial (as Aiken); in Donaghadee Parish Church of Ireland Church (as Aiken) and on the family grave headstone in the adjoining graveyard (as Aikin).
Maxwell Aiken’s nephew, Harry (a son of Maxwell’s brother Henry), died on 8 May 1943 during the Second World War.