Eli is one of three brothers commemorated on the Stockport War Memorial, along with Arthur and Ernest. All would die during 1917. A fourth brother, Elias, was discharged from the army after being gassed. Albert (Bert) Maiden served with a garrison battalion in India
The family originated from Dawley in Shropshire where William Maiden earned his living as a clay miner. He was married to Emily and, when the census was taken in 1901, they were living at Sandy Bank Row. This accommodation comprised just three rooms and had to accommodate the couple and their eight children. It is not known when they moved to the Stockport area.
Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) was part of the Turkish Ottoman empire and an ally of Germany. Then as now, Britain relied heavily on oil from the area. When war broke out in August 1914, British troops were quickly sent to the area to protect its interests by occupying the oilfields and pipeline near Basra. Eli's service number suggests he enlisted in the early part of 1916 and will have been sent overseas some weeks later after training.
Conditions for the men were appalling. Extremes of temperature (120 degrees F was common); arid desert and regular flooding; flies, mosquitoes and other vermin: all led to very high levels of sickness and death through disease. Under these conditions, units fell short of officers and men, and all too often the reinforcements were half-trained and ill-equipped. Medical arrangements were quite shocking, with wounded men spending up to two weeks on boats before reaching any kind of hospital.
Eli is known to have died from wounds he received, but it cannot be established when this might have been. Amara was a centre for British military hospitals and Eli was a patient there when he died.
After the War, the Government sent "death plaques" to the families of those who had died. The plaques relating to Eli and Ernest were, in December 2006, sold on Ebay. The sale also included Ernest's medals are a number of letters from Eli's time in hospital. On 28 April, he wrote home "Dearest sister and brother. I am writing hoping this will find you in the best of heart, no doubt you have heard I am in hospital having been wounded. I came to this hospital on the 22nd and are feeling a little better now, as it a little cooler than coming down the river. I trust you are both having a good time at home and things are going well with you, so cheer up and look on the bright side and ask God to help us to better days, so I think this is all this time, will conclude now with a brother's best love to you both and God bless you. Your loving brother, Eli".
The next letter came from the Hospital Matron. She wrote "Your son is still very ill, we are anxious about him, poor lad. He is so good too, I wish we could keep him home, everything possible is being done for Eli". The family must have remained in touch with her, as she wrote again on 12 August 1917 thanking them for their kind words and enclosing a photograph of his final resting place