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D-Day Duty

Heroes Remember

It was choppy, yeah. It was pretty, pretty blustery and again, a lot of, a lot of the guys were sea sick. And we had been training the different troops and when it came time to go in and load, our destination was the Omaha Beach. We had I think about thirty landing craft, four of us and three American landing craft headed, took on US infantry and headed for Omaha. Interviewer: What do you remember about the American troops that were loaded aboard your ship? They were pretty, pretty concerned. Some of them were you know, they were green. One guy I talked to, he had only been in the army about eleven months, and here he was going into combat and, you know. So there's a certain amount of fear, just like there was in Salerno, a lot of those young guys were, they were afraid. Yeah. Interviewer: What do you remember about the crossing? Well the crossing was choppy, uneventful. I remember feeling the shells whistling over my head when I was getting ready to drop the kedge. But, we never, our ship was not hit. No, no. Interviewer: You were below decks at... No, I was on the kedge at that time. Interviewer: OK. On the stern. Like the kedge anchor was on the stern right of mid ships. And you dropped the kedge and you waited and then of course there was somebody else had taking my place in the engine room, and then on the coast in they hit the beach. And when you're ready, when all the troops are off, presumably you pull your kedge in and it pulls you off. But when we had taken all our troops off, pulled the kedge in, the kedge came in but we didn't come off. We sat there all night. Yeah. There's a German mortar I picked up in Omaha there. Interviewer: You were effectively grounded, off Omaha beach. All night. Till the next, early next morning when the tide came full, yeah. Interviewer: What do you remember about what was going on around the ? Well it was kind of scary because the, the fighting was just, they had established a beach head by the time we got in, but the fighting was going on up the hill, you know we could hear all the guns and, and there we are, sitting, a sitting duck. Expecting that we're going to get a couple of mortar shells or something come over and hit us. So, most of us said well let's get off, you know, if you're going to get hit, get up on the beach. So, we got off the ship when she was beached and walked up the hill. We said we'd go up and see how close we could get to the troops and we got into one of the pillboxes and the remains of a couple of people there. And we brought a case of German mortars back to ship and we had our gunner disarm them and I brought one home. Yeah. Interviewer: As a souvenir. Yeah, as a souvenir.

Through a series of re-locations, by early 1944, Mr. McLean has been reunited with his landing craft, which had been brought from Iran to Scotland where they were refitted and made ready for the D-Day landing, Operation Overload. When crews and crafts were ready, they were moved to Southampton, England to await the order to sail. That order came on the evening of June 5, 1944, for the D-Day landing on the coast of France the following day. The weather was not good as the hundreds of ships crossed the English Channel.

George Henry Foster McLean

Mr. McLean's father came to Canada from Scotland. He was a cooper by trade and was a member of the Royal Navy during the First World War. Mr. McLean was born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and has two brothers and two sisters. He was second born, with one older sister born in Scotland. He received his education in the Vancouver school system. He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Navy just after his 16th birthday. He then spent five months in militia training before receiving a call-up to active service effective in May, 1942. Mr. McLean served in North Africa, Malta, Italy and was part of the D-Day raid at Omaha Beach.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
George Henry Foster McLean
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Leading Hand

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