Alexander Henry Maxwell-Hyslop GC (AM exchanger)

b. 25/05/1895 Woolwich, London. d. 28/08/1978 Truro, Cornwall.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 26/07/1929 Sjiathos, Greece.

Alexander Henry Maxwell-Hyslop (1895-1978) was born 25th May 1895, the son of Colonel Robert Maxwell Hyslop RE and his wife Emily Clara Brock.  He was educated at Rottingdean near Brighton and in 1907 he entered Osbourne Naval School moving on to Dartmouth Navel College at the age of 15. Alexander went to sea as a Midshipman in 1913 just before Britain was plunged into the Great War. His first ship was HMS Centurion, but soon after the start of the war he was transferred to the Royal Naval Air Station at Polegate in Sussex. Here he served on four airships the, No 9, SS1, SS10 and the SS12. Alexander was a very fit, athletic young man and during the war he won the heavy-weight boxing championship of the Grand Fleet as a light heavy-weight. Later in the war he served on to HMS Africa, HMS Repulse and HMS Revenge.

Alexander H Maxwell-Hyslop GC

In 1927, he married Cecilia Joan Bayly and they had two sons, Alexander Bayly (born 1929) and Robert John (born 1931). In 1929 he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander, serving as Gunnery Officer on HMS Devonshire.

On 26th July 1929 off Sijathos, Greece, HMS Devonshire was carrying out full calibre firing, but at the first salvo there was a heavy explosion in X turret, which blew off the turret roof. Marine Albert Streams was the only man in the gun turret who was not killed or fatally wounded. He instinctively climbed to the top of the turret but, on looking down and seeing the conditions, he climbed back into the smoke and flames, notwithstanding the grave risk of further explosions. He then helped to evacuate the dead and wounded; when all were removed, he collapsed. Maxwell-Hyslop, who was in the fore control room when the explosion occurred, immediately went to the turret and climbed inside. He made a quick examination of the turret and descended the gun well through the most dangerous conditions of fumes and smoke, necessitating the use of a lifeline, and he remained in the turret until the emergency was over, directing arrangements for the safety of the magazine. Both men were awarded the Albert Medal, but Streams was killed in action in Sicily on 10th July 1943.

His first command was the sloop HMS Laburnham on the New Zealand Station in the Pacific in 1933. He returned to the UK in 1935. Following his promotion to Commander, he commanded the RN Barracks in Alexandria, then attended courses at Greenwich before assuming command of the Boys’ Training Establishment, HMS Impregnable, where, in 1938, he was promoted to Captain.

Returning to sea in 1939, he took command of HMS Durban at the outbreak of the second World War. He was captain of Destroyers at Devonport until 1941 and then spent the next three years on Arctic duties in command of HMS Cumberland, during which period he commanded Operations Gearbox 2 and 3, both part of the relief of Spitzbergen. In 1944 Captain Maxwell Hyslop assumed command of the battleship, HMS Nelson, which was involved in the bombardment of the Normandy landing area’s fortifications. In the later part of 1944, Captain Maxwell Hyslop was ADC to King George VI. His last post, was as commander of the Naval Officers Selection station, HMS Raleigh at Torpoint.

In 1946, he was invalided out of the Navy due to duodenal ulcers. He retired with his wife Cecily to Prideaux House, St Blazey, Cornwall. They kept a schooner called Alkelda and he was Vice Commodore of Fowey Yacht Club. In 1971, he chose the exchange his Albert Medal for a George Cross. He died on 28th August 1978 in Truro, Cornwall. He was buried in the churchyard of St Ciricius and Julitta, Luxulyan. His medals including GC, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, 1939-45 Star, Atlantic Star, Africa Star, War Medal 1939-45 with Mention in Despatches oakleaf, 1935 King George V Silver Jubilee Medal, 1953 Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal and 1977 Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal are held by the Speaker’s Office, House of Commons. His medal miniatures are held by the Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton.





Kevin Brazier – Image of Maxwell-Hyslop GC Grave at Sts Ciricius and Julitta Churchyard, Luxulyan, Cornwall.