"A flash blinds me...We are lost in a chaos of flying mud...Smoke, filth,confusion, racket! I spit and splutter and swear...Oh Christ! I think I'm flamin' well dead."This is the compelling story of Lieutenant Joseph "Darkie" Maxwell DCM, MC and Bar, VC - the second highest decorated Australian soldier of the First World War.Meticulously researched by historian John Ramsland, Maxwell's colourful life is traced from his childhood on the Hunter coalfields until his death at age 71 in a soldier's settlement home in Matraville Sydney.Maxwell was a vivid storyteller who wrote Hells Bells and Mademoiselles, telling of his experiences in the war. In telling Maxwell's story, Ramsland has uncovered many forgotten documents to piece together an extraordinary life of an extraordinary man.