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Robert George McLean

From Our Contribution

McLean Robert George.jpg
Birtwistle collection
Personal Information
Date of Birth unknown 1875
Place of Birth Warrnambool, Victoria
Death 19 Feb 1965, aged 89
Place of Death Kelmscott
Age at Enlistment 39 years, 11 months
Description 5' 5" (1.65m) tall; weight 133 lbs (60.3 kg); medium complexion, grey eyes, and brown hair.
Occupation miner
Religion Baptist
Address Kalgoorlie, Western Australia
Next of Kin Mother Mrs Margaret McLean
Military Information
Reg Number 3146
Date of Enlistment 3 Aug 1915
Rank Private
Unit/Formation 16th Battalion, 10th Reinforcement, transferred to the 48th Battalion / 12th Brigade, 4th Division
Date of Embarkation 14 Sep 1915 - ? Nov 1915
Ship Embarked On HMAT A70 Ballarat
Date of Return 27 Sep 1917 -12 Nov 1917
Ship Returned On HMAT A29 Suevic
Fate Wounded in Action 6 Aug 1916 Pozieres
Accidental Injury 11 May 1917 at Henencourt
Returned to Australia
Medals 1914-15 Star
British War Medal
Victory Medal


Pre War

War Service

On arrival in Egypt in Oct 1915, he was sent to a training battalion. On 30 Dec 1915 he entered hospital in Abbassia with VD, and was discharged 11 days later. Joined the 28th Battalion on 5 Feb 1916, but on 3 Mar 1916 he was one of the first troops allocated to the newly formed 48th Battalion at Tel-el-Kebir.

Hospitalised again on 6 May 1916, this time at Habieta with pleurisy, he was discharged from hospital on 16 May 1916. Robert was able to move with the battalion on 1 Jun 1916 to Alexandria and then on the next day he embarked for France aboard the HMT Caledonia, entering through Marseilles at 4.30pm on 8 Jun 1916.

On arrival in Marseilles they were entrained for northern France, and arrived in Bailleul at 4.30pm on 12 Jun 1916. In early July were in the front line at Fleurbaix, where on 5 Aug 1916 they relieved the 27th Battalion in the OG1 trenches at Pozieres.

During the night of the 5th and the day of the 6th Aug, the 48th Battalion suffered very heavy casualties as there was little effective cover from the very heavy artillery bombardment on their position. During this time Robert was wounded with a severe wound to his right thigh.

Treated by the 44th Casualty Clearing Station, and passed on to the 4th General Hospital where it was decided to transfer him to England aboard HS Stad Antwerpen from Calais on 10 Aug 1916, and admitted to the Military Hospital in Edmonton on 12 Aug 1916. Released from hospital on 16 Oct 1916, Robert enjoyed a furlough before he returned to France aboard the HMT Princesse Clementine from Folkestone on 28 Dec 1916.

He rejoined the 48th Battalion on 27 Feb 1917 at Becourt Camp after they were withdrawn from the front line at Flers.

The 48th Battalion played a role in the attack on Bullecourt on 11 Apr 1917 and a month later, on 11 May 1917, Robert was accidentally wounded when at Henencourt work camp, he was struck while in his hut by the nose cone of a mortar shell fired in practice by the 12th Australian Light Trench Mortar Battery. The nose cone came through the roof of the hut and struck his face.

Treated by the 12th Australian Field Ambulance and the 56th Casualty Clearing Station, he initially entered 2nd Stationary Hospital in Abbeville before being evacuated to England on 20 May 1917 aboard HMHS Grantully Castle from Le Havre.

On arrival in England, he entered the Birmingham War Hospital on 21 May 1917. Following treatment he was given furlough, before entering the lengthy process that decided he was no longer fit for front line duty and then returned to Australia on 27 Sep 1917, where he would be discharged as medically unfit on 4 Jan 1918.

Robert was awarded a pension of £1 per fortnight from 5 Jan 1918.


Award Comment

One of the Scottish nurses who looked after him (Catherine Lees Dutch) followed him to Australia after the war. They married in 1919. Although they married as McLean, at some point the name was changed to MacLean. Due to a declining mental state, Robert returned to Kalgoorlie where he wanted to resume mining. Catherine died 27 Jan 1985 in Armadale aged 94. They had three sons and a daughter - (Robert A. b. 1920 Electoral Roll entries - 1916 at 1183 Hay street, storeman; 1919 at 152 Hill street, Fremantle, storeman; 1922 carter for Standard Bakery, Wittenoom street, Collie; 1931 an engineer at Holden road, Roleystone; 1936 -1937 a conveyor belt attendant at Canning Dam; 1943 - 1954 same job but has moved to River road, Kelmscott Margaret Isabel died 9 Apr 1973 in Thornlie.

Post War

Notes

Early settlers in the Roleystone soldier settlement. Prominent members of the community they have a street named after them. Acted as a guarantor for a loan raised to build the Roleystone Hall in 1972.


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