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Remembering World War II
Name: Michael J. McLean Rank: Staff Sergeant Service Number: 6613236 Service: 314th Infantry Regiment, 79th Infantry Division, 7th Army, US Army Awards: Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster Date of Birth: 1905-1906 Place of Birth: Frenchvale, Cape Breton, NS Date of Enlistment: February 28, 1939 Place of Enlistment: Unknown Address at Enlistment: Suffolk Co. Mass. Age at Enlistment: 33 or 34 Date of Death: November 14, 1944 Age: 37 or 38 Cemetery: Epinal American Cemetery And Memorial, France Grave: Plot A, Row 9, Grave 66 Michael J. McLean was the son of Angus McLean and Catherine (McInnis) McLean of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. His mother was born in East Bay, and his father was born in Frenchvale, Cape Breton County, NS; the descendants of immigrants from Scotland. Michael immigrated to the United States and his family has record of him joining the US Army on July 20, 1928, ten years earlier than his pre-war enlistment of 1939 in Suffolk County, Massachusetts. His enlistment record indicates he had come from Illinois and his brother James lived and worked in Chicago, Illinois as well. In WWII, Michael was assigned to the 314th Infantry Regiment which was part of the 79th Infantry Division. The 314th Infantry Regiment was tasked with the taking the Saverne Gap in the Vosges Mountain in early November 1944. The Vosges were heavily defended by the Germans who were spread out, staggered, in the old WWI pillboxes and machine gun strong points. The positions were dotted along the mountainside, instead of uniformly deployed at the ridge line. The 7th Army's plans were the smash the line wide open and beat the German defenses to the Saverne Gap to take the city of Strasbourg. XV Corps - the 44th on the left, the 79th on the right, with the 2nd French Armored closing in behind, were dispatched to Sarrebourg on the western side of the Vosges. The 79th's zone ran from Ancerviller to Nitting, five miles northeast of Hattigny. The 314th's first objective lay north of Harbouey, northeast of Ancerviller. Under cover of darkness with silence and secrecy stressed, on November 12th, the 314th moved to the assault assembly area southwest of Montigny. Staff Sergeant Michael J. McLean died of wounds November 14, 1944, in the fighting just south of Barbas, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France. He was interred at the Epinal American Cemetery which stands on a plateau in the shadow of the Vosges Mountains. Most of the nearly 5300 American buried there, lost their lives in bitter fighting in northeastern France, and into Germany, as the Allies battled toward victory in WWII. The American Battle Monuments Commission records his age at death as 34 but he was 37 or 38. On Michael’s US Headstone and Internment record, his sister is listed as next of kin, Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Kirrane (1898-1960), living at 16 Monument Street, Charleston, Mass. Mary was the wife of Patrick Kirrane. “He sleeps far from his family in the gentle lands of France” A second Nova Scotian, Technical Sergeant John Charles McLean served with the 314th Infantry Regiment.
Michael J. McLean
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Sources American Battle Monuments Commission - Michael J. McLean 314th Infantry Regiment: November 1944 Picture and family information: Chief Warrant Officer Joseph Kirrane, USMC serving from 1978-2000, Michael McLean’s great nephew