McLean, William (No. 1048611)

McLean, William

Sergeant (Air Gunner)

No. 1048611, 626 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Killed in an aircraft accident on Sunday 7 January 1945 (aged 21)


Clichy Northern Cemetery, Hauts-de-Seine, France (Plot 16 Row 10 Grave 8)


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Carrowdore Parish Church of Ireland Church (Christ Church)


It was reported in the 22 December 1945 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle that Corporal James McLean (No. 647093), son of John McLean, Ballyblack, Newtownards had died in March 1945 in a Prisoner-of-War Camp in Java.

It was also reported that James’s brother, Sergeant William McLean (No. 1048611), had been killed in action on 7 January 1945.  The report continued, ‘three members of the family have given their lives in the service of King and Country’ and it ended, ‘John McLean served in the First and Second World Wars and is at present with the Merchant Navy’.

The third family member to die was Lance Corporal James Charles McCaul (No. 7011358).

In the CWGC Debt of Honour James and William McLean are both described as sons of John and Jessie McLean; they were in fact stepsons of Jessie McLean (formerly McCaul, nee Norris).

In some records their surnames are spelt McClean and McCall.

John McLean and Ellen McBrier (sometimes McBriar) were married on 12 November 1909 in Carrowdore Parish Church of Ireland Church (Christ Church).  John McLean (aged 22) was a sailor from Ballywhiskin.  Ellen McBrier (aged 20) was from Carrowdore.

John and Ellen McLean (nee McBrier) had one son:

John (born 24 January 1911 in Carrowdore)

Ellen McLean died of pulmonary tuberculosis in Ballywhiskin on 18 February 1917.

John McLean and Mary Campbell were married on 6 January 1919 in Newtownards Registrar’s Office.  John McLean, a widowed miner from Ballywhiskin, was son of John McCullough, a labourer.  Mary Campbell from Ballyblack was a daughter of James Campbell, a labourer.

John and Mary McLean (nee Campbell) had four children:

James (born 3 June 1921)

William (born 22 February 1923)

Hugh (born 10 February 1925)

Margaret Jane (born 26 July 1926)

Mary McLean died and on 23 June 1933 John McLean and Jessie McCaul (nee Norris) were married in Ballyblack Presbyterian Church.

Jessie Norris and Charles McCaul were married on 18 November 1912 in St. Anne’s Church of Ireland Cathedral, Belfast.  Jessie Norris (aged 21) from 28 Nelson Street, Belfast was a daughter of Harry Norris, a dealer.  Charles McCaul (aged 22), a labourer from 12 Ship Street, Belfast was a son of Charles McCaul, a labourer.

Charles and Jessie McCaul (nee Norris) had at least three children:

James Charles (born 25 February 1915 at 5 Douglas Street, Belfast)

Mary Ann (Minnie, born 4 May 1917 at 35 Constance Street, Belfast)

Thomas (born 25 October 1919 at 35 Constance Street, Belfast)

Jessie’s brother, Private Thomas Norris (No. 23066), was killed in action during the First World War.

It was reported in the 29 June 1940 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle that Lance Corporal James Charles McCaul, who was a son of Mrs John McLean of Ballycastle Road, Ballyblack, had died of wounds.

John and Jessie McLean had two children both of whom were baptised in Carrowdore Parish Church of Ireland Church:

Jamison Johnston Edward (born 26 October 1935)

Frank Orr (born 31 December 1939; died 20 February 1940)

John McLean was 81 when he died (buried 14 January 1968) and Jessie McLean was 75 when she died (buried 2 March 1973).  Both were buried in Carrowdore Parish Church of Ireland Graveyard (Grave G. 8) and at the time of writing there is no headstone on the grave.

During the Second World War William McLean (born 22 February 1923) served with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and on 7 January 1945 he was one of a crew of seven aboard an Avro Lancaster Mark III aircraft (LL961) that took off at 6.44 pm from RAF Wickenby in Lincolnshire on a mission to bomb Munich.  On the outward flight the aircraft collided with another Lancaster aircraft and the crew baled out.  Sergeant McLean was killed along with the pilot, Flying Officer Robert Marshall Smith of the Royal Canadian Air Force.  Sereant William McLean was buried in Clichy Northern Cemetery, Hauts-de-Seine, France, and there is an inscription on his CWGC headstone:




Initially Sergeant William McLean (No. 1048611) was reported as missing in action and then in March 1945 his father was officially informed that William had been killed.   There was a Killed in Action notice in the 17 March 1945 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle from father, brother and sister; brother James (Prisoner-of-War in Japanese hands); brother and sister-in-law John and Martha McLean and family, Ballycopeland, Millisle; grandmother and aunt Margaret, Ballywhiskin, Millisle; also stepmother and family.  The Killed in Action notice contained the verse:

Had we but seen him at the last,

Or raised his drooping head,

Our hearts would not have been so sore,

The bitter tears we shed.

In the 11 January 1947 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle there was an Our Heroes – In Memoriam notice commemorating both brothers, James, and William McLean:

Two years have passed since our great sorrow fell,

The shock we got that day we still remember well;

We think of them in silence and oft repeat their names,

But all we have left are sweet memories and their photos in a frame.

Both Sergeant William McLean and Corporal James McLean are commemorated in Carrowdore Parish Church of Ireland Church (Christ Church), where Lance Corporal James McCaul is also commemorated.