McLean, George Alexander (George)
No. 41411 74th Brigade Royal Field Artillery
Died of disease on Saturday 23 December 1916 (aged 23)
Allonville Communal Cemetery, Somme, France (Grave A. 34)
McLean family grave headstone in Whitechurch Cemetery Ballywalter
County Cork Book of Honour entitled
A Great Sacrifice – Cork Servicemen Who Died in the Great War
Three McLean brothers who were killed during the First World War are commemorated on a headstone in Whitechurch Cemetery, Ballywalter:
Erected by Alexander McLean
In proud and loving memory
Of his three sons, who voluntarily
Answered the Nation’s call and gave
Their lives for King and Country.
John McLean, R I Rifles
Born 1st June 1891, died 25th March 1918
George Alexander McLean R F Artillery
Born 14th January 1893, died 23rd December 1916
William Robert McLean, Cheshire Regiment
Born 19th July 1894, died 7th September 1918
Also his wife Elizabeth died 6th May 1902
Interred in Templetryen Cork aged 38 years
Also his son Samuel died 16th August 1916
Interred in Deans Grange Dublin aged 18 years
The paternal grandparents of the three McLean brothers who died in the First World War were John and Isabella McLean (nee Wright) who had at least four children, all of whom were born in County Down:
William (born around 1848)
Samuel (born around 1851)
Alexander (born around 1860)
Agnes (born around 1863)
John McLean died of influenza at Mountstewart, Greyabbey on 14 April 1895 (aged 84) and his son William, who also lived at Mountstewart, was present when he died; John McLean was buried in Whitechurch Cemetery Ballywalter.
In 1901 Isabella McLean, a widow (aged 80) and her unmarried daughter Agnes (aged 38) were living at Mountstewart.
In 1901 William McLean (aged 53) was working as a gamekeeper at Mountstewart and he and his wife Annie (sometimes Ann) McLean (nee Tomlinson, sometimes Tomilson) had at least six children:
Isabella (born 19 April 1871, died 31 July 1918 in the townland of Kilsampson, Caledon, Co Tyrone and was buried in Whitechurch Cemetery Ballywalter)
Samuel (born 30 September 1873)
George (born 13 December 1875)
Annie (Fanney, born 29 June 1879)
Mary (born 27 September 1882)
Jane (born 13 August 1885)
John McLean’s widow, Isabella McLean, died of apoplexy at Mountstewart on 22 March 1903 (aged 79) and her son Samuel was present when she died; Samuel McLean was butler to Lieutenant-General Andrew Nugent DL JP and lived at Portaferry House, Portaferry.
Isabella McLean was buried in Whitechurch Cemetery Ballywalter (Section N).
Samuel McLean’s wife, Jessie Ann, died at Cloughey on 5 December 1907 (aged 57) and she was buried in Whitechurch Cemetery Ballywalter. Samuel McLean died on 17 August 1913 (aged 62) and he too was buried in Whitechurch Cemetery Ballywalter.
The parents of the three McLean brothers who died in the First World War were Alexander and Elizabeth McLean (nee Crichton). Alexander McLean was working as a gardener on the Parkhall Estate in the Parish of Muiravonside, Scotland when he and Elizabeth Crichton were married on 16 April 1886 in Fauldhouse Church of Scotland Church, Linlithgow, West Lothian, Scotland. Alexander McLean (aged 26) was born in County Down and he was a son of John McLean (a land steward) and Isabella McLean (nee Wright). Elizabeth Crichton (aged 23) was born in Scotland, she worked as a domestic servant and she was a daughter of George Crichton (a miner) and Sarah Crichton (nee Sommerville) of East Benhar, Fauldhouse, Linlithgow, Scotland.
In 1901 Alexander and Elizabeth McLean were living in the townland of Dunleckney, Bagenalstown, Co Carlow and they had five children:
Elizabeth (born 15 February 1890 at Salterbridge, Cappoquin, Co Waterford)
John (born 1 June 1891 at Salterbridge, Cappoquin, Co Waterford)
George Alexander (born 14 January 1893 at Salterbridge, Cappoquin, Co Waterford)
William Robert (born 19 July 1894 at Salterbridge, Cappoquin, Co Waterford)
Samuel James (born 1898 in County Cork)
Their mother Elizabeth died on 6 May 1902 (aged 38) and was interred in Templetrine Graveyard, Cork.
In 1911 Alexander McLean (aged 43) was working as a gardener and domestic servant and he and his youngest son, Samuel (aged 12), were living in the townland of Doonass, Kiltonanlea, Co Clare.
Samuel McLean (aged 18) died of pulmonary tuberculosis in the Workhouse Hospital, Loughlinstown, Dublin on 9 September 1916 (16 August 1916 on the headstone in Whitechurch Cemetery, Ballywalter) and was interred in Deans Grange Cemetery, Dublin.
In 1911 George Alexander McLean (aged 18) was working as a journeyman gardener at Castle Bernard, Ballymodan, Bandon, Co Cork.
In 1911 John McLean (aged 21) was working as a gardener at Coolattin Park, Coolatin, Co Wicklow.
George Alexander McLean enlisted on 17 October 1914 in Belfast and he joined the Royal Field Artillery. It was noted in his attestation papers that he was 5 feet 9½ inches tall with a fresh complexion, grey eyes and brown hair. He had a scar on his right shin and his teeth were defective. He had to have nine teeth extracted and a denture fitted. He cited his father, Alexander McLean, as his next-of-kin and Alexander’s address was recorded as Laragh, Bandon, Co Cork.
George McLean was posted initially to Athlone and then on 28 August 1915 to France as a Gunner in the Royal Field Artillery. On 5 December 1916 he was admitted to No. 39 Casualty Clearing Station where he was diagnosed to be suffering from meningitis. He was pronounced to be ‘dangerously ill’ and his father was so informed by telegram. In a subsequent telegram his father was informed that George was ‘slightly improved’ and on 14 December he was informed that George was ‘progressing favourably’. Then he got the news that Gunner George McLean had died of acute meningitis on 23 December 1916. George was 23 when he died and he was buried in Allonville Communal Cemetery, Somme, France.
After George died, Alexander wrote to the military authorities asking them to note that his address was Newpark, Blackrock, Dublin and not Laragh, Bandon, Co Cork. In the letter he also wrote, ‘I am sorry at the death of my son Gunner George McLean. I am happy he died for King and Country’. On 13 July 1920 Alexander McLean acknowledged receipt of his son’s 1914-1915 Star.
Military records show that in 1921 the military authorities were having difficulty contacting Alexander McLean and they asked for help from the Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP). The DMP determined that, up until September 1920, Alexander McLean had been employed as a gardener by Mrs Dames-Longworth, Newpark, Blackrock, Dublin and that he had gone from there to Belfast. Mrs Dames-Longworth thought that his address might be ‘c/o Mrs Craig, Bridgend Road, Belfast’. The Royal Irish Constabulary Belfast ‘E’ District was asked for help in tracing Alexander McLean but enquiries made by officers in both Strandtown and Ballyhackamore revealed no trace of him. Alexander McLean must have gone back to Dublin because, on 11 March 1921, his address was Oakley Park Nursery, Blackrock, Dublin when he acknowledged receipt of his son’s British War Medal and then on 12 August 1921 he acknowledged receipt of his son’s Victory Medal.
Gunner George Alexander McLean is commemorated on the McLean family grave headstone in Whitechurch Cemetery Ballywalter and in the County Cork Book of Honour entitled A Great Sacrifice – Cork Servicemen Who Died in the Great War.