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A Gruesome Job for a Youngster

Heroes Remember

A Gruesome Job for a Youngster

We were tied up on the starboard side and on the port side there was a tank landing craft. And again, that night, the German Air Force came over in full force and they hit the tank landing craft dead on and it killed twenty-eight guys. And we were the duty ship and our skipper said to me "George," by this time I'm a leading hand, I've got a hook which is equal to a sergeant, he said, "Take four guys on a work party and you go over there and help bring out those bodies." And that was the worst thing I had to do, was you know, hell I'm, by this time I'm seventeen and you know it's still pretty gory and the smell just, you know, just knocks you over. Yeah, and I, we had a salty old cook from Scotland, an old, really a character and I had my pipe pull, and I was, there was this piece was floating, and I'm trying to get hold of it and of course it was somebody, it was just a chest of somebody, and then Scotty, the old cook yells down, "Hey Shorty," he says, "that looks like a fine piece of meat, wheel that one aboard." I couldn't eat for three days after that. Yeah. But that's the way some of the guys were, they were battle hardened some of them. But we were kids see. Interviewer: And that would be a way to mask their own fear I would imagine. Could be, yeah. Could be.

At anchor at a Tunisian port, a German Air Force bombing run takes a tragic toll on a nearby tank landing craft, killing everyone on board. Mr. McLean led a group of men from his vessel in the clean-up of the bodies and body parts.

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
North America
Leading Hand

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