Veteran Stories:
George McLean

Navy

  • George H.F. McLean enlisted in the Canadian Navy in 1941 and was placed on Naval reserve. This photo was taken in May, 1942, whe Mr. McLean was called up for active duty.

  • George McLean (far left) and fellow recently-called up members of the Naval reserve on their way to HMCS York. July 1942.

  • George McLean (left) and shipmate Art in Tunisa in 1943. From February to July of 1943, they worked taking troops of the British 8th Army from Malta in North Africa to Sicily.

  • Troops training on Navy landing crafts in preparation for the D-Day landings at the Isle of Wight. April 1944.

  • George McLean's shipmates from LCI 166 on the beach at Normandy, June 7, 1944.

    George McLean
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"On September the 4th, we left Africa after a lot of training, for Salerno, Italy. Our whole convoy moved into Salerno Bay."

Transcript

George McLean of Burnaby. I served with the Navy – V34075. I joined the Navy in early 1941. I served on the male reserve until May of '42, and then I signed up with the Royal Navy to go on Combined Operations. We left Norfolk in February of 1943. Proceeded to our base in North Africa, and from there, we trained all the different regiments that were in Africa. About the 1st of July, our whole flotilla of invasion craft proceeded to Malta. We sat there until I guess about July 10th, when we picked up the 8th British Army and took them into Sicily. After the invasion of Sicily, we moved back to Africa, and numerous times we were heavily bombed. From there, we knew something was going to happen, and while we were waiting I was transferred to the HMS Marnix, which was Dutch ship that had been converted from a liner to an assault vessel. On September the 4th, we left Africa after a lot of training, for Salerno, Italy. Our whole convoy moved into Salerno Bay. We had 1,850 of the US 5th Texas Regiment aboard, and we landed them in Salerno, but we were attacked. I was within two feet of the bomb that fell beside our ship. It rocked the ship violently, threw me on the deck, and at that point, if I'd waited two seconds more, it would have blown our ship up. With the ship leaking water a little, after we got all the ammunition and stuff ashore, we proceeded back to Africa. Our leakage was too much to take care of there, so we decided to head back to England and put her in a dry dock. We proceeded through a maze of U-Boats through the Straights of Gibraltar and headed up to Liverpool. I was the only Canadian on the ship; the rest were all Royal Navy or Dutch. The crew were Dutch, the assault crew were Royal Navy. Upon arriving in Liverpool, we were all shipped down to a naval base in Southend-on-Sea. From there, they separated the Canadians from the Royal Navy. I was sent up to Naiobi, Scotland. They were setting up a tent city, where all the Canadians were starting to pour into Naiobi in preparation for D-Day.
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