Isaac Leonard MCLEAN MM

MCLEAN, Isaac Leonard

Service Number: 387
Enlisted: 27 January 1915, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Sergeant
Last Unit: 27th Infantry Battalion
Born: Wallaroo, South Australia, 8 November 1896
Home Town: Wallaroo, Copper Coast, South Australia
Schooling: Wallaroo Public School
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Prolonged illness (complications of war service), Wallaroo, South Australia, 4 August 1925, aged 28 years
Cemetery: Wallaroo Cemetery, S.A.
Memorials: Wallaroo WW1 Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

27 Jan 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Adelaide, South Australia
31 May 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 387, 27th Infantry Battalion
31 May 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 387, 27th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Geelong, Adelaide
5 Jul 1918: Discharged AIF WW1
11 Nov 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Sergeant, SN 387, 27th Infantry Battalion

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Biography

"The Military Medal. BRAVE WALLAROO BOY.

The Military Medal has been awarded to another Wallaroo boy, and it has again come to a 'Mac,' in the person of Pte. Isaac McLean, 19 years of age. Pte. McLean was a general favourite in Wallaroo. As a cadet he took unkindly to military training, but on joining the A.I.F. developed the characteristics of an Australian soldier. His father, who is 64 years of age, endeavoured to join his son at the camp, and was actually entering the camp grounds when a medical man to whom he was well known in Wallaroo divulged his correct age, and he was refused admission. A brother (Pte. Douglas McLean) is now in an English military hospital severely wounded. Another brother, (Roderick) was several times rejected on account of being minus a finger. He, however, passed the test at the recent call up, went to Adelaide to enlist in the A.I.F., and was successful. He has contributed a number of poems on the war to the local press to encourage recruiting. A captain surgeon who was in the battle sector where Pte. Isaac McLean won his medal for gallantry states that;

" the battalion was ordered to charge at 9 p.m. The men jumped out of their trench, but when about half-way across 'no man's land' the German artillery got to work and was dropping shells rapidly among them. Isaac pulled out his mouth organ — and he can play. That seemed to put new energy into the men, and they soon came to the German parapet. No sooner was he in the trench than he saw one of his sergeants in front of a dugout in which two Germans were standing on the steps. The front one had his hands up to surrender, the one behind was unloading his revolver on the sergeant, but as it was dark he did not hit him. The sergeant said, 'Give him a bomb, Mac.' So Isaac took one out of his pocket, liberated the spring, counted three and tossed it towards Fritz. It 'pushed his face right off,' and the other Surrenderer was wounded slightly. Isaac timed the bomb to a nicety. Had he counted four instead of three it would have been his own head that was missing. Fritz was only about five yards away. Immediately afterwards an officer was hit, and Isaac was sent back through the bursting shells for stretcher bearers. As soon as he returned he went forward to help cut wire in front of the next German trench, and after that one was taken they worked in it all day, for as soon as they improved it the German artillery blew it in again. In this charge the two mates who had been with him all along were killed, but he squared matters by 'pinking' two other Germans with his rifle. Since then he has been recommended for distinction for further acts of bravery. In all his fighting he has had but one small wound, caused by a fragment of shell, which struck a finger. His battalion comrades are sure he has nine lives, and let us hope that he has."

The only reference the young soldier made to the honour he received was contained in a few lines written on a postcard, which read:—

"You will be much surprised to know that I have been awarded the Military Medal. Gen. Birdwood decorated me with the ribbon this morning, and I shall receive the medal in a few days. I won it the night we charged. I shall send you a piece of the ribbon next mail." - from the Adelaide Regsiter 17 Oct 1916 (nla.gov.au)

 

"FIGHTING MACS.

Another D.C.M., has been awarded to a Wallaroo boy, and it again comes to a Mac in the person of Private Isaac McLean, a lad of 19 years of age. Young McLean is a general favorite in the town, and the honor is no surprise, as he was always regarded as a brave lad. As a cadet he took most unkindly to military training, but on joining the A.I.F. soon developed the characteristics of an Australian soldier. The only reference the young soldier makes to the honor is contained in a few lines written on a postcard which read :—

"You will be much surprised to know that I have been awarded the Military Medal. General Birdwood decorated me with the ribbon this morning, and I shall receive the medal in a few days. I won it the night we charged. I shall send you a piece of the ribbon next mail."

His father, who is 64 years of age, attempted to join his son at the camp, and was actually entering the camp grounds when a doctor, to whom he was well known in Wallaroo, divalged his correct age, and he was refused admission. Another brother is on active service, and is now in an English hospital, severely wounded. A third brother has several times been rejected on account of being minus several fingers. He, however, passed the test at the recent call up, and positively refused to go elsewhere than into the A.I.F., and journeyed to Adelaide last week to enlist. The fourth and elder brother is a cripple, and often expresses a desire to be doing his bit. The mother died several years ago, and home has been kept together by a young daughter. Mr Roderick McLean, who has just joined the A.I.F., has contributed a number of poems on the war to the local press, with a view to encourage recruiting. The family are true Scots, and are keen on doing their duty in the great war." - from the Kadina and Wallaroo Times 18 Oct 1916 (nla.gov.au)

 

OBITUARY. DEATH OF MR I. McLEAN.

Mr. Leonard Isaac McLean, M.M., D.C.M., died at Wallaroo on Tuesday morning after a prolonged illness, the result of completions following after his war experiences. Mr. McLean, who was 28 years of age, had a wonderful record for deeds of daring when serving in France. Since his return he has been a great sufferer from an internal malady, and throughout his illness he showed the same indomitable courage that characterised his record when on active service. In France he was several times mentioned in dispatches. It is recorded that on one occasion when his comrades were hard pressed, he took a mouth organ out of his pocket and started to play lively airs, which cheered the men on and ultimately gave them victory. This, with many other deeds of bravery, stamped him as one of the bravest. He was born and reared in Wallaroo, and enlisted with two other brothers (one of them made the supreme sacrifice) when quite a lad. He had a charming personality, and was popular with everybody. The returned men held him in high esteem, and no better testimony of this could be shown when on Wednesday, at his funeral, a large body of the R.S.A. attended, besides hundreds of residents. The ceremony at the graveside, conducted by Rev. A. Richardson, was impressive, and there was a general manifestation of sorrow at the passing of such a young life. On his return from the war the Corporation, in order to recognise his brave deeds, renamed the street in which he resides after him, changing it from German street to Leonard street. There is a movement to further perpetuate his memory. Much sympathy is expressed in the town for his father, sisters and brothers." - from the Kadina and Wallaroo Times 08 Aug 1915 (nla.gov.au)

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Biography contributed by Sharyn Roberts

Son of Joseph McLEAN and Ruth nee ELSEGOOD