Octave Le Maitre

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Jersey's Great War heroes:

Octave Le Maitre


Guernseyman with a Jersey family, Octave Le Maitre

This is one of a number of articles published by the Jersey Evening Post on 10 November 2018, the day before the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War. They tell the stories of a number of Jerseymen and Jerseywomen who were distinguished by their bravery during the war. Some survived to recount their own experiences, others perished in the conflict and never saw their native island again.

See full list of articles

Octave's wife and four children

For nearly a century the family of Private Octave Le Maitre, who had been sent to fight Ottoman forces in Turkey, believed that he had died at Gallipoli.

Death in Iraq

But two years ago his grandchildren discovered that he had travelled nearly 2,000 miles further across the continent, fighting in the Battle of Kut in modern-day Iraq, and advancing towards Baghdad. A member of the 5th Battalion Wiltshire Regiment, he died on 19 June 1916, aged 38, and his grave can be found in the Amara War Cemetery in southern Iraq.

Born in St Peter Port in Guernsey in 1878, Private Le Maitre came to Jersey when he was 13 to work as a stone cracker at Ronez Quarry and it was in the island that he met his wife Louisa, with whom he had four children: George, William, Sydney and Ethel.

Last family portrait

Youngest child Ethel was only six months old when her father was sent to Scotland for training before he was deployed for combat. In March 1915 Mrs Le Maitre organised a portrait of the family to be sent to her husband while he was fighting, which would be the last picture of the family together.

After training Private Le Maitre's battalion landed in Helles, Turkey, for the invasion of the Gallipoli peninsula in July 1915. They were involved in a series of battles against Turkish forces that year, including the final British attempt to seize control of the peninsula at the Battle of Sari Blair.

After suffering severe casualties from combat, disease and harsh weather, the troops of the Wiltshire Regiment were evacuated in January 1916 and a month later they landed in Mesopotamia.

Private Le Maitre was involved in relieving the besieged garrison in the town of Kut in April, but nothing is known about the cause of his death two months later.

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