William Alfred McLean was born in Orillia, Ontario on 19th May 1895.
His parents Laughlin David McLean and Mary Emilene, (nee Skinner) were married on January 24th 1891. William’s mother, Mary Emilene McLean sadly died at 23 years of age of Pernicious Aneamia on September 10th 1895, four months after William was born.
The 1901 Census for Canada on Ancestry.co.uk shows that the McLean family was living with relatives in Morrison Township, Ontario. The Head of the household was James Young He was aged 53. single and a Farmer of Scottish descent. He had been born on the 12th September 1847. Listed in the household were James Young’s sisters. Maggie Young was single. She was aged 43 and had been born on the 19th May 1857. His other sister was a widow. She was Agnes McLean aged 51. She had been born on the 7th May 1850. The rest of the family were all named McLean and mostly all nephews of James Young. Lachlin was a widower, aged 32 who was a Shingle Labourer by trade. He had been born on the 6th February 1868 in Ontario. John McLean was 27 and had been born on the 13th May 1873. Angus McLean was 25 and had been born on the 27th March 1892. They were Lumbermen by trade. Charles McLean was 8 years of age and had been born on the 27th March 1892. William McLean was 5 years of age. ( Lachlan was William’s Father and Charles was William’s brother. Agnes was William’s Grandmother.)
I cannot trace William in 1911 but his father Laughlin re married 11th July 1910 and moved to Calgary.
William’s army records tell us that he enlisted into the 122nd Overseas Battalion of The Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force on 14th December 1915 at Orillia. (There is some confusion with William’s enlistment date as the date given for enlistment differs on his Attestation form and Service details which show the date to be 7th February 1916). He gave his address as Orillia and his date of birth as the 19th May 1895 and the place of his birth as Severn Bridge, Simcoe, Ontario. His next of kin was his father father, Laughlin David McLean of Calgary,337/13 Ave East, Alta, Canada. His trade was Labourer. On his medical examination form he was described as 5ft 5inches tall with a ruddy complexion, brown hair and blue eyes.
After basic training in Canada, William embarked from Halifax, Nova Scotia on board The S.S.Olympic on 28th May 1917 and arrived in Liverpool on 9th June 1917 when he was posted to Sunningdale Army Camp to complete his training.
On 9th July 1917 after completion of training William embarked for France and landed in La Havre on 10th July. He was appointed Cook on 20th August, and transferred to 49th Canadian Company where he was ‘On Command’ to a Cooking School. He rejoined his unit, passing to draw technical pay as a qualified Cook from 17th January 1918. He remained in France until peace was declared when he was posted for demobilisation to Sunningdale and then Kinmel Camp, Rhyl, North Wales on 18th February 1919 for repatriation to Canada.
Sadly William contracted Influenza and was admitted to the 9th General Canadian Hospital at Kinmel on 12th March when he was transferred to number 8 Special Ward as he was deemed to be “Dangerously ill.” He died at midnight on the 17th March 1919 aged 23 years.
(From Library and Archives of Canada)
Kinmel Park Camp was a segregation camp used to house Canadian Soldiers awaiting repatriation to Canada after the end of WW1. Unfortunately the conditions at that time were extremely harsh with a lack of every kind of commodity, the camp was overcrowded and the services were poor, there were shortages of clothing, food and blankets. As a result of this situation, a vast number of servicemen and women became ill and many succumbed to the Influenza Epidemic or complications associated with this infection.
William Alfred McLean is buried in St.Margaret’s Cemetery, Bodelwyddan.
William left his last effects to his brother Charles David McLean.
He is commemorated on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.