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A Change of Location

Heroes Remember

A Change of Location

We sat in port and we hadn't been training any troops and it was getting sort of dull. And we felt there was, there had to be something, and of course every morning somebody would start a new rumour, where we're going. And we honestly thought we were going into Southern France. And then there came a buzz that the fleet was going to sail into Tripoli, cut her down the middle, half were going into Burma and the other half were going to France. So, wanting to get down to Burma because it sounded quite exciting I said to skipper, "You know if half the fleet goes to Burma, I'd like to be in the half that goes to Burma." And he said "You'd really like that would you George? You'd really like that?" I said "Yeah, I would." And he said "Well look," he said "they want a stoker and they want him next week." And he said "I can't tell you where it is, but" he said "you'd find it interesting." So two days later I got a notice I'm drafted. Put my gear ashore at Sousse in Tunisia, they had a naval base there and next morning Royal Air Force crash boat pulls up to the dock. I'd been assigned to the HMS Marnix. And this crash boat, this shows you the time, this crash boat, a Royal Air Force crash boat, I'd never seen one before. Beautiful boat. And they threw my gear aboard and the skipper of the crash boat got his signals and we pulled out of there and God what a wonderful trip. This thing just, you know compared to a landing craft this thing just took off. And we went right down to Iran, and well it didn't take that long. We pulled into Iran and there's this huge ship on the dock and it was the HMS Marnix. It was the former Dutch liner called the Marnix van St. Aldegonde. And she was, had been a beautiful ship in her day. But she'd been rehabilitated, not rehabilitated, she'd been refurbished to be a troop ship. And she had all the landing craft, the assault craft hanging on the port and starboard sides. And so for the next three days I practised in the engine room of one of these assault craft around the harbour, to get used to the engines, the gears and so on.

Back in Tunisia, the crews of the landing crafts wait for their next assignment. Mr. McLean is anxious to be doing something constructive and offers his services elsewhere.

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 Africa
Leading Hand

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