Monday, February 17, 2014

Lance Corporal Marcus McLean 356377


There was only one Marcus McLean on the census, BMD and CWGC records and he was from Liverpool.

Family Information

Baptism records show that Marcus McLean was born in Liverpool on 6th September 1893 and was baptised in St Peter's Church on 22nd February 1894.
His parents were William and Sarah McLean and they lived on Roche Street
(I believe this is a misspelling of Roach St). William was a joiner.

In the 1901 census the McLean family were living at 32 Roach Street in Toxteth. William was still head of the household and working as a joiner. The census shows us that Marcus was the youngest of 7 children and the first member of the family born outside of Ireland.

At the time of the 1911 census the McLean family lived at 208 Windsor Street, Toxteth. William was still head of the household and stated his occupation as 'Undertaker and Joiner' working on his own account and at home; the 1911 Gore's Directory of Liverpool and Suburbs has the business listing for Mclean, William & Sons, Undertakers, 208 Windsor St.  Marcus was working as a builder's clerk, his siblings at home all had jobs that suggest a good education with 2 other clerks, one teacher and one undertaker's assistant in the family business.  

Military Service

Marcus McLean's Medal Index Card (below, source: shows that he was a private in the Liverpool Regiment with the regimental numbers 4868 and 356377.  These numbers show that he enlisted sometime in June 1915.

The card shows that Marcus McLean first entered the war on 24th December 1915 in France. He was awarded the Victory Medal, British War Medal and the 1915 Star, the card does not record his promotion to Lance Corporal.

Death and Commemoration

Marcus McLean was killed in action with the 10th Battalion, The King’s Liverpool Regiment on 9th April 1918. 

The battalion war diary shows that in March the Battalion had been rested which means they were out of the front line and took part in various training exercises and organised activities such as performances by the Battalion concert party and a platoon 6-a-side football tournament (which was won by Transport Coy). On 28th March the Battalion was moved to the front line. 31st March was Easter Sunday.

On 1st April the Battalion was occupying front line and support trenches directly opposite La Bassee Canal.  Over the next week there was some shelling by the enemy including gas shells, we made a successful raid on the German trenches and brought back a prisoner for identification. The diary records various incidents of sniping and bombs being thrown. It records that on the 8th April the battalion received orders to relieve part of the Portuguese Division the following day then in the early hours of the 9th April a heavy bombardment of our lines began, followed by the order for battle positions. The 10th KLR moved to occupy their battle position in Tuning Fork Locality, they were heavily shelled with high explosives and gas shells en route and sustained heavy casualties. At 9.50am after 5 hours of heavy shelling, the Germans attacked along the front line.  The 10th KLR held off the enemy attack but the Portuguese Division to their left could not, the Germans penetrated our lines and the 10th KLR had to form a defensive flank on that side which they did using Loisne Central trench. The night was quiet.
Trench map showing the Tuning Fork area. Loisne Central would be in the very top left of the map if it was shown.

Marcus McLean is commemorated at Gorre British and Indian Cemetery. The following paragraphs are from the CWGC Cemetery Information Page for Gorre, and give the wider picture of the battle:

The British section of the cemetery was used by infantry and artillery units stationed in the area until April 1918, when the relative quiet of the sector was shattered by the German Spring Offensive and Gorre became a support post close behind the front line during the Battle of Estaire. This battle was one of two massive German assaults on the Commonwealth positions from Ypres to Festubert that became known as the Battle of the Lys. When the battle erupted on 9 April, the 55th (West Lancashire) Division occupied the front-line trenches running north from Givenchy to Richebourg L’AvouĂ©. The Allied positions to their left, around the village of Le Touret, were held by Portuguese units. 
After a preliminary artillery bombardment that began on the evening of 7 April the German Sixth Army, spearheaded by storm troops, attacked in force early on the morning of the 9th. Heavy mist enabled the attackers to get very close to the Allied lines before they were observed and Portuguese units suffered heavy casualties and began to retire. Further south, the various formations of the 55th Division were hard pressed from the outset and the front line trenches around Givenchy were the scene of fierce fighting between British and German troops. The divisional brigade holding the northern section of the British line was forced to pull back, but well-organised counter-attacks and determined defence elsewhere enabled the 55th Division to hold its ground for the rest of the battle and prevent a major German breakthrough. Fighting continued in the trenches east of Gorre until 17 April when the German forces finally broke off the attack. In just over a week of fighting almost 3,000 officers and men of the Division had been killed, wounded, or taken prisoner, but the territory over which they had fought remained in Allied hands. 

Marcus McLean’s grave is ‘special memorial 2’ which I believe means that his is one of the graves which was lost due to shelling so he has a gravestone which indicates that he lies somewhere in the cemetery. There are only 4 of these special markers in the cemetery, the text on them reads "Believed to be buried in this cemetery". His mother had added to the inscription the motto of the 55th Division "THEY WIN OR DIE WHO WEAR THE ROSE OF LANCASTER"

You can view (and purchase) images of his gravestone on The War Graves Photographic Projectwebsite. His family in Liverpool also had him included on the family headstone which reads:
loving memory
the beloved husband of
Sarah Cameron McLEAN,
who passed away 28th March 1918,
aged 63 years.
*Thy will be done.*
Also Marcus, L’Cpl: Lpool Scottish,
youngest son of the above,
killed in action in France 9th April 1918,
aged 24 years.
*Greater love hath no man than this.*

Marcus’s mother lost her husband and her youngest son within a few weeks. (I will add a photo of this headstone)

The entry in “UK Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914-1919” for Marcus McLean records the following information:
Marcus Mclean
Death Date:
9 Apr 1918
Death Location:
France & Flanders
Enlistment Location:
King's (Liverpool Regiment)
10th Battalion
Type of Casualty:
Killed in action
Theatre of War:
Western European Theatre

The 10th Battalion of the King's Liverpool Regiment were the Liverpool Scottish.  Click here to open  the Liverpool Scottish Regimental Museum website. This site also contains images of the Liverpool Scottish WW1 Roll of Honour, a beautiful book which of course contains Marcus McLean's name.
Marcus’s family and his fiance, Elsie Hodgson,  also posted the following notices in the Liverpool Echo:

 (25th April 1918)
(26th April 1918)

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