When Hugh was a young boy in school, he was very popular for his proficiency in sports, but as he grew older, he looked back and pondered quietly over the history of the British nation and Empire. He felt that every Englishman had a part to play, in keeping what the ancestors had won. Hugh was unassuming in manner, level in temperament, but had a deep pride in his country. Hugh wanted to serve his country and so chose the army, as did many of his relatives did before him. But at first had to forego the military life, as the side of his family, were rather impoverished. Hugh started to work for the Cable Company. He worked at Alexandria, Lisbon and Capetown, he worked patiently and quietly.
It was not Hugh,s good fortune to be able to choose the life of a sailor - like his uncle, Admiral Cordale and his cousin Ambrose Maynard Peck (Captain Peck is best remembered as commander of the ship H.M.S. Broke, which along with the H.M.S. Swift, defeated six enemy ships near Dover on April 20, 1917.
The next thing heard of Hugh, was that he was able to secure a commission in the Royal Garrison Artillery at Capetown. His Adjutant was very pleased with Hugh, as he had the true soldiers capacity, for infusing large motives into dull routine. At the same time, Hugh was studying International Law, various languages and European History. Hugh aimed at being good in every form of sport.
Hugh tried to get into the Consular Service, but because of the lack of university schooling he could not get a position. Hugh was next able to secure a position as Assistant Resident in Northern Nigeria.
Hugh had a serious difference of opinion over a report he had made to a Senior Commissioner on native policy, and would not withdraw the report. Some of Hugh's peers though that he was obstinate and opinionated and other were sure that he would not back down because of principle. The Colonial Office though that Hugh was wrong, and when he went home, to clear this matter up, he was refused another appointment. What followed for Hugh, was a time of soul searching and unemployment, as it was difficult for Hugh to find any type of meaningful work. Hugh was weighed down by depression boarding on despair. Acutely sensitive and too essentially British not to abhor showing his feelings, Hugh struggled on silently, feeling that to show despair is not a fit quality for a true sportsman.
In 1913, at the advice of a soldier friend, Hugh joined the Special Reserve, which was a unwanted child of the army, but destined to come into its own and win everlasting honor in the Great War. Hugh was happy to get a commission in the Fifth Battalion of the Kings Rifle Corps, a regiment with a history and a tradition to satisfy even Hugh's ardent love of moral dignity and prestige.
Hugh was promoted to captain during this period, when he was going through the mental lessons of spirit and reflections of all that he had seen in the past.
Hugh did a lot of thinking out laud with his soldier friends. Hugh liked the theory about the Invisible Army -about the soldiers who died in action, being promoted to fight in larger and freer conditions, with great powers and a clearer view of the whole campaign. Hugh thought that it would be hard luck, if death meant being put prematurely out of action.
Five days before Christmas, on December 20, 1915, Hugh married Mafra Blount. the only child of Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Blount. Hugh told his friends that he met his ideal in human living form. Hugh wrote to his relatives, restrainedly but fervently of his great happiness - the reward and compensation for all bygone difficulties and reverses.
Hugh did not expect long life or worldly fame; an increasingly vivid premonition of approaching death seemed to shadow, but not daunt him.
To throw away a life which is grievous and clouded, to seek death because life is barren, would not be much of a sacrifice. But to give one's life ungrudgingly, when after long waiting and many discouragement, and life was going well, this is the great sacrifice!!!
After much consideration, in February, 1916, Captain Hugh Maynard decided to transfer into the Coldstream Guards. The only problem was that there was only a Lieutenancy Position available in the 1st Battalion and it was in this rank that Hugh returned to France after a short period at Windsor.
The Great War was in full force. Therefore it was imminently consistent that on September 15, 1916, the regiment, in its crescendo of glorious service, reached magnificent heights. The Colonel of the 1st Battalion (Colonel J. A. G. Drummond-Hay ) wrote to Mrs. Hugh Maynard, that Hugh had giving the greatest sacrifice a man could give, to his country -His Life!
The Colonel wrote; As, I am writing to you, I will take this opportunity of expressing on behalf of the regiment, of our sincere sympathy with you, in what you are called on to suffer, for the sake of the Empire. The loss of your husband, to the regiment, with all of Hugh's military experience, can not be replaced. Hugh gave promise while at Windsor, of being an exceptional good officer
The final test was on the 15th, when Hugh stamped himself a born soldier and capable leader, by leading his men through the attack, and not content with that, having quickly grasped the danger of our exposed flank, on his own initiative, he moved his men and took up a position to cover it -A most courageous act. - And that Hugh's men went readily with him, when called on to do so, after all they had already gone through, just shows how quickly they had gotten to know Hugh and to trust him.
What adds so much to my sorrow, that we lost Hugh, is the thought, of the shortness of time, that Hugh was in the regiment, we will miss his services and his bravery. Hugh had already taught us to appreciate, what a fine officer, he was going to be. There are only a few men as fine as Hugh.
Tributes from Hugh's men, poured in; Hugh will be so much missed. - A good officer, a gentleman and a soldier. - So good to his men. - Over and over, runs the testimony!
The last I saw of Lieutenant Maynard, he was cheering on his men, walking about and giving instructions, and never taking cover himself.
From the letters that Hugh wrote home, on the eve of the great advance, it seems clear, that he felt the supreme day of his life was approaching. -I would not be anywhere else for anything!! Hugh wrote.
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