Centenarian’s birthday gift from HMCS Calgary

HMCS Calgary Commanding Officer, Cdr Alex Barlow welcomes David McLean aboard for a tour of the warship. Cdr Barlow presented an official captain’s hat and coin to McLean to be given to his 100-year-old father Leslie McLean. McLean sailed aboard the original HMCS Calgary vessel during the Second World War. Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout

HMCS Calgary Commanding Officer, Cdr Alex Barlow welcomes David McLean aboard for a tour of the warship. Cdr Barlow presented an official captain’s hat and coin to McLean to be given to his 100-year-old father Leslie McLean. McLean sailed aboard the original HMCS Calgary vessel during the Second World War. Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

One-hundred-year-old Leslie McLean will receive a unique belated birthday gift – an HMCS Calgary captain’s baseball hat, an official ship coin, and a ship’s patch.

The items were collected by his son David, who toured HMCS Calgary on his father’s behalf on March 6, and will be given to him by his family in the coming weeks.   

In the Second World War, the centenarian served in HMCS Calgary (K231) during the Battle of the Atlantic as a Leading Seaman. The ship was a Flower-class Corvette, one of many built to meet the demand for escorting merchant vessels across the Atlantic.

“It’s was a delightful experience touring Calgary and I thank everyone in the navy for this experience,” said David after the tour. “I know he is going to be surprised when he sees these gifts.”

Leslie suffers from dementia and lives in an Edmonton retirement home, but his son says whenever anything related to HMCS Calgary comes up his father can recant detailed memories of his service days.

During his time aboard Calgary, Leslie participated in the sinking of German U-boat U536 in the Azores in November 1943, and U322 in December 1944 in the English Channel.

After VE Day, he transferred to HMCS Ontario and the Pacific theatre. He was officially discharged from the military in 1946.

David’s childhood chum Lance Allard, who lives in Victoria, arranged the ship tour through the Public Affairs office. The two grew up on the outskirts of Edmonton. David says neighbour and Second World War veteran Fred Russell also reached the 100-year milestone recently.

Filed Under: Top Stories

About the Author: The Lookout Newspaper can trace its history back to April 1943 when CFB Esquimalt’s first newspaper was published. Since then, Lookout has grown into the award winning source for Pacific Navy News. Leading the way towards interactive social media reach, we are a community resource newspaper growing a world wide audience.

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