Mum told of son’s bravery
Art student who battled to the end
A Rutherglen mum left heartbroken by her son’s death in WWI later received word from army high command about how he “died fighting magnificently” while serving his country.
Mrs McLean, of 65 Greenhill Road in Rutherglen, received official intimation that her son Lieutenant William Wood McLean was killed in action in France on September 23, 1918.
The 26-year-old, who served with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, had been awarded the Military Cross a year earlier for a daring mission.
William was the second son of the late John McLean and Mrs McLean, and he also left behind a wife at 4 Albany Street, North Kelvinside, Glasgow.
Lieutenant McLean’s relatives received a number of sympathetic messages from friends and brother officers of his regiment.
One of these included a letter from a commanding officer in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders which praised the soldier for his bravery.
The letter was published in the Rutherglen Reformer on Friday, October 11, 1918 – exactly 100 years ago. It reads: “Your son had done really magnificent work on the night of 23rd.
“With about 20 men he took over 40 prisoners and then went on and captured a post which was his objective.
“Later we were driven out on the right – your son and his men being on the extreme left – and though he fought most gallantly and drove off several attacks from front and left, he was finally attacked from the rear and completely cut off.
“On 30th we advanced and occupied the same ground and we recovered his body and those of several of his party. He appeared to have been killed instantaneously by a heavy burst of machine-gun fire.
“He was buried with three other officers of the battalion in a little cemetery which is now well behind the front line.
“By his death the battalion has lost a most efficient and popular officer and who could ill be spared.
“In your great sorrow I would offer you the sincere sympathy of myself and all the other officers and the knowledge that he died fighting magnificently must also be some consolation.
“Yours very truly, Ian M Campbell, Lieut Colonel, Commanding 2nd, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.”
When war broke out in 1914, William was an art student at Glasgow University.
He enlisted in August 1915 and received his commission in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders that September.
Two years later, Lieutenant McLean was awarded the Military Cross for his crucial efforts towards restoring communication with the front line on the French battlefields.
The lines of communication had been severed due to heavy shell fire and Lieutenant McLean rushed through the barrage on two occasions to relay important messages to the front line.
Ultimate sacrifice Rutherglen man Lieutenant William Wood McLean was killed in action in France on September 23, 1918.