Remembering one who paid the ultimate price

Saugeen Shores Commemorative Banner Program

John Kenneth McLean

At the South end of the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland is the town of Uig. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s many people from the islands of Harris and Lewis immigrated to our community. Many of the names are still prominent in Saugeen Shores; Matheson, MacAuley, MacKay/McKay, MacLean/McLean and MacLeod/McLeod are among them.

John Maclean and Christina MacKay married in Uig and soon after left for a new life in Canada and arrived in Southampton. They started a family which included 3 boys. One of the boys named John Kenneth, was born in Southampton on December 14th, 1914.

He became known as Kenneth and attended elementary school in Southampton and after graduation from the Southampton Continuation school in 1933, he attended High School in Port Elgin to gain his Senior Matriculation. In 1934 he attended Normal School (Teachers College) in Stratford, graduating in 1935 with a 1st Class Certificate. He went on to teach at rural schools at S.S. #2 Falconer & Louden, S.S. #1 McCart, S.S. #7 Sullivan and S.S. #13 Amabel up to 1942. During that time, he attended summer school at the University of Western Ontario in London. While at Western he studied Astronomy, Political Science, English and History.

It was on June 30th , 1942 at the end of the school year, that he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force as a Flying Officer. His attestation papers are an interesting read and one item, in particular, jumped out. In providing names for references as to his character and ability he names Clifford Huston, Teacher. Mr. Huston, as he was known to all, taught for many years in Southampton and the current Southampton Public School carries his name today – G. C. Huston Public School. Ken’s training took him to a variety of pilot training centres in Canada from Saskatchewan to Quebec during the second half of 1942 and all of 1943.

He arrived in England in late January 1944, he was assigned to the 166th Royal Air Force Squadron. This squadron flew Lancaster Bombers in raids into Germany.

On January 8th ,1945, the Lancaster Ken was flying was shot down in a bombing raid over Munich Germany and the crew was declared missing and presumed dead. The family was advised of him missing in action. His father had died in Southampton, a few months earlier in 1944. His mother died later in 1945 and the grave marker in the Southampton Cemetery for his parents includes Kenneth’s name in memory of their son who was still missing in action at that time.

After the war ended in 1945 the Commonwealth War Graves Commission continued searching for bodies of those that had been declared missing in action, presumed dead. It was not until April 8th , 1949 that Canada’s Ministry of Defense advised Ken’s brother that the Missing Research and Enquiry Service had found 6 bodies in a single grave in a cemetery in Munsingen Germany and had determined that they were the crew of John’s Lancaster that had been shot down in January 1945. The same letter stated that “Most unfortunately, individual identification could not be secured”.

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The 6 of them were moved to a British Military Cemetery named Durnbach War Cemetery near Bad Tols Germany and each was given their own grave though it cannot be certain that they are in the grave identified by their marker. They are buried in Section 4 Row E Graves 2 -7.

John Kenneth McLean was another young man with such a promising future who made the supreme sacrifice for us to live the life we have today.

We shall remember them.

May he rest in peace.

Researched and written by G. William Streeter