On November 28, 1917 Lieutenant McLea, a banker from Montreal Quebec, was on duty as a member of the 3rd Canadian Divisional Ammunition Column. The day had started out with a frost but was characterized as a “fine day” in the Unit’s War Diary. McLea, with 200 pack mules had collected ammunition at “B” Dump (near Poperinge, France) and was setting out to deliver this allotment of ammunition. At approximately 11:00 AM some Goth bombers (probably Gotha G.V) attacked. One of the bombs wounded Lieutenant McLea grievously.
No. 8 Canadian Field Ambulance reports in their war diary and supplements the activity of the German bombers, especially at night:
“During the night of the 25th, a considerable number of stretcher cases were handled many of them local casualties caused by hostile air-craft, the enemy usually paying us nightly visits around VLAMERTINGHE and the rooms of the old Mill rocked with the concussion of his exploding bombs nearby.”
As the No. 8 Canadian Field Ambulance reports, October 1917 was a busy month and Lieutenant McLea is one of many Canadian soldiers lost into the void of statistics. This organization was to process 3,250 wounded soldiers with October 27th and 31st accounting for 1,3006 men in just those 2 days.
Lieutenant McLea sacrificed his life and, but for happenstance, his sacrifice would have been lost to history. During a search of Circumstances of Death Cards for 18th Battalion soldiers Lieutenant McLea’s circumstances of death were found. The circumstances of death card description was poignant and unique in that the description had such detail as to the time of the incident and nature of this soldier’s wounds. This card also shows insight into the tactical use of aviation to interdict military resources outside of the range of artillery.