Alfred Fletcher MCLEAN

Alfred Fletcher McLEAN

Per his military service record (regimental no. 2217), Alfred Fletcher Mclean was born at Coonamble, N.S.W.[1]  He gave his age as 19 years and 10 months, his marital status as single, and his occupation as farmer. His description on his Certificate of Medical Examination was 6 feet tall, weight 12 stone 10 lbs., with a dark complexion, brown eyes, and dark brown hair. His religious denomination was Presbyterian. He claimed that he had previous military service as a Corporal in the 42nd Infantry.

The consent of both his parents was given on his initial Application to Enlist in the Australian Imperial Force form dated 11th October 1915.

He completed medical on 12th October 1915 at Orange, and was attested at Orange on 12th October 1915.

‘Alfred. F. McLean’ was named in newspaper reports as one of the men who was recruited to join the Coo-ees when they arrived in Orange on 24th October 1915.[2]

After completing the Coo-ee March he went to Liverpool Camp as reinforcement for the 7th Light Horse Regiment.

He was charged with being absent without leave on 7th February 1916.

On his embarkation roll his address at time of enrolment was Cranley, Bloomfield, via Orange N.S.W., and his next of kin is listed as his father, James Fletcher McLean, at the same address.[3]

‘Trooper Alf McLean’ was presented with a wristlet watch by his friends at Bloomfield, prior to his departure back to duty on Monday night, 6th March 1916, when on final leave.[4]

On 11th March 1916, along with fellow Coo-ee Private Joe Billing, he departed Sydney on the HMAT A67 Orsova with the 15th reinforcements for the 7th Light Horse Regiment.

He arrived in Egypt on the 14th April 1916, where he was taken on strength in the 2nd Light Horse Training Regiment at Tel-el-Kebir.

Two days later Trooper McLean was admitted to the Government Hospital at Suez, Egypt, with mumps. He was discharged to duty on 16th April 1916. He re-joined his unit on 19th April 1916.

On 25th May 1916 he transferred to Artillery Details at Tel-el-Kebir, Egypt.

On 28th May 1916 he left Alexandria on the HMT Corsican, bound for England.  He disembarked at Plymouth on 12th June 1916, for further training.

On 16th July 1916 Gunner McLean was admitted sick to Tidworth Hospital at Bulford, England. He was discharged from hospital on 25th July 1916 to the Australian Artillery Training Depot at Parkhouse, England.

On 26th October 1916 he was transferred to the 22nd Field Artillery Brigade (117th Howitzer Battery) at Boynton, England.

On 31st March 1917 Gunner McLean marched into the Reserve Brigade Australian Artillery at Larkhill from Boynton.

On 11th April 1917 Gunner McLean proceeded overseas to France on a transport from Folkstone, England.  He disembarked in Etaples, France, on 12th April 1917.

He marched out to the 2nd Division Artillery on 17th May 1917.  He was taken on strength of the 2nd Divisional Artillery Column the next day.

On 3rd July 1917 he was sent to the 7th Australian Field Ambulance with a hernia. He was admitted to the 56th Casualty Clearing Station the next day. On 7th July 197 he was admitted to the No. 3 Canadian General Hospital at Boulogne, France.  On 9th July 1917 he was moved to the No. 25 General Hospital at Dannes-Camiers, France.

On 27th July 1917 Gunner McLean was evacuated to England on the Hospital Ship Jan Breydel.

On 28th July 1917 he was admitted to the County of Middlesex War Hospital with a slight hernia.

He was given leave from 17th September 1917 to report to the No. 2 Company Depot at Weymouth, England, on 1st October 1917.

On 26th October 1917 Gunner McLean was promoted to Corporal.

On 27th October 1917 Corporal McLean marched out to No. 3 Company.

On 19th January 1918 he marched out to the Overseas Training Brigade.

On 5th March 1918 he marched out to the Reserve Brigade Australian Artillery at Heytesbury, England.

On 13th March 1918 Corporal McLean proceeded overseas to France from Southampton.

On 14th March 1918 he marched into the Australian General Base Depot at Rouelles, France.

On 17th March 1918 Corporal McLean marched out to the 2nd Divisional Artillery Column.

In a letter he sent home to his parents from France that was published in The Leader on 24th June 1918, he wrote:

“We are so often on the move now and letter writing is very hard. Five or six days ago we were very comfortably quartered in a very fine billet. You cannot imagine how comfortable we were. We have a find spring-mattress for two, stove, plates, dishes, cooking utensils, and what is better still, plenty to cook. As it was evacuated country, there were plenty of fowls and pigeons, with a stray calf or a sheep or two. Then there was plenty of fish in the river, so we used to have fish for breakfast and dinner, varied with pigeons, rabbits, and fowls. Tea  was much the same – and still men will say there is a war going on. You would hardly have believed it had you seen our ‘joint’.  But we are much different at present, as we have a tent to live in made of a tarpaulin, with the ends filled in made of all sorts of things, old blankets and horse rugs, so you can imagine the outward aspect. I have christened it ‘The Rook’s Nest,’ and so it is more ways than one. But we are a gay crowd and as happy as birds in May…  The French are great fighters and real hard cases. You would smile to see their transports. A drover’s turn-out is a king to them. They have bits of rope and wire tied all over the place. But they get there just the same. The French have great faith in the Australians. Since our arrival here more civilians have returned.”[5]

Corporal McLean served with the 2nd Divisional Artillery Column in France until 11th August 1918, when he was wounded in action in the vicinity of Warfusee-Abancourt, with a gunshot wound to his neck.  He was sent to the 5th Australian Field Ambulance. On 12th August 1918 he was admitted to the 55th Casualty Clearing Station. The next day he was admitted to the No. 11 Stationary Hospital at Rouen, France.

On 19th August 1918 he was evacuated to England on a hospital ship. He was admitted to the Bath War Hospital on 20th August 1918.

On 16th September 1918 Corporal McLean was transferred to 3rd Auxiliary Hospital at Dartford, England.

On 20th September 1918 he was discharged from hospital to Littlemoor Camp at Weymouth, England.

On 25th October 1918 he went on leave, to report to No. 1 Command Depot at Sutton Veny on 12th November 1918.

On 13th November 1918 Corporal McLean marched out to No. 2 Command Depot at Weymouth, England. On 26th November he marched into No. 1 Command Depot.

On 14th January 1919 Corporal McLean commenced his return to Australia on H.T. City of York, for medical discharge.

He disembarked in Sydney on 5th March 1919.

He was one of four local soldiers who was welcomed home to Bloomfield on Saturday night, 29th March 1919, where there was ‘a very enthusiastic gathering of about 250 of the residents to do honor to the boys’, with a ‘musical programme contributed to by all the local talent, but largely choruses of school children’, which was ‘followed by speeches of welcome and a first class supper’.[6]

He was discharged medically unfit on 12th September 1919


[1] NAA: B2455, MCLEAN A F

[2] RECRUITS FOR THE COO.EES (1915, October 22). Leader (Orange, NSW : 1912 – 1922), p. 6. Retrieved February 28, 2016, from

[3] Australian War Memorial. First World War Embarkation Roll, Alfred Fletcher McLean, HMAT Orsova A67, 11th March 1916.

[4] DEPARTING SOLDIER HONORED. (1916, March 8). Leader (Orange, NSW : 1912 – 1922), p. 2. Retrieved July 7, 2018, from

[5] BEFORE AND AFTER THE PUSH. (1918, June 24). Leader (Orange, NSW : 1912 – 1922), p. 6. Retrieved July 7, 2018, from

[6] Personal (1919, April 2). Leader (Orange, NSW : 1912 – 1922), p. 1. Retrieved February 11, 2018, from


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