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Across the Atlantic and the First Fatality

Heroes Remember

Across the Atlantic and the First Fatality

The first, the first day out we ran into an electrical storm and we had two seamen that had been fifteen years in the navy and they were seasick. It was really, really horrendous. Because they had no keel. They were flat bottomed and they had this kind of a motion rather than rocking. And when you weren't, when you're used to a rocking motion, it'll make you seasick, the slapping. So we suffered through that for a few days and eventually we landed the first trip into Gibraltar and we had a day ashore while we had took on water and supplies. And from there we headed into Djidjelli, which was in Algeria. And I guess, I suspect they had, in Morocco, they must have had German lookouts or German spies because they knew we were coming. We had no more than tied up at the dock in Djidjelli when the German Air Force came over and started bombing. And they hit one of our ships dead on. Right in the middle. And this young lad from Kirkland Lake was like, each landing craft had one Canadian. They were British landing craft, and the only Canadian on them was an engineer. From all this special training. So our thirty members, the Canadians, each one went on a different landing craft. So, unfortunately, the guy from Kirkland Lake, he got killed immediately, and it was kind of tragic. That was our first real shock, you know, that this, hey this is for real, you see. Interviewer: Did you have any second thoughts at that time? No, no, it scared me a little, you know because he was a good friend of mine and you know, we'd gone through school together and, that is the navy school. And he was a boxer, and I used to spar with him, you know. And he used to say "Well, now when we're sparring, drive me in the belly." You see, and I used to drive him in the belly pretty hard you see. But he'd been a miner and so he was tough. And that's where he got killed, he got shrapnel right, right in the belly. Just opened him right up. Yeah. Sad.

The convoy of landing craft leaves Norfolk, Virginia. An early fatality awaits the vessels on the other side of the Atlantic.

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
United States
Leading Hand

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