On behalf of the committee and members of Families and Friends of the First AIF I express condolences to the family and friends on the sudden passing of Jean Letaille.
We are informed that Jean passed away on Saturday, 10 March 2012. He had been in poor health for considerable time but his sudden death came as a shock to us all.
A former Mayor of Bullecourt, Jean and his late wife, Denise, were pillars of the Bullecourt community. Over decades, Jean had unearthed and collected machinery, weapons and other artefacts from the First World War battlefields around the area and displayed them, initially in the town hall and afterwards, as the collection outgrew that accommodation, in buildings on his property.
A visit to the ‘barn’ or the museum was a ‘must’ on any Aussie’s pilgrimage to that part of the Western Front and Jean and Denise were perfect hosts. They have generated many fond memories for hundreds, if not thousands, over the years.
In addition to the museum, his contribution to Digger Heritage through the donation of land for the Memorial Park where the ‘Young Digger’ stands, his involvement in the construction of the ‘Slouch Hat’ Memorial and the private ‘Cross’ Memorial on the Bullecourt battlefield, his participation in countless memorial services and the assistance he provided to battlefield pilgrims is immeasurable.
Both Jean and Denise Letaille were appointed Members of the Order of Australia in 1997 for service to Australian-French relations.
Jean’s loss to the Bullecourt community is considerable and he leaves, as a major part of his legacy, a newly refurbished museum which is due to open its doors for the first time on Anzac Day this year. It’s sad that he will not be there to see his collection open to the public once more.
Photo: Jean Letaille proudly shows the plans of the new Bullecourt Musem to a member of the FFFAIF’s Tour group in 2010.
Our thoughts at this sad time are with Jean’s family, his friends and members of the Bullecourt Museum Association who worked closely with Jean and the Australian Government on the museum’s re-development as part of the Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front.
He has joined his beloved Denise. May they Rest in Peace.
Families and Friends of the First AIF.