A military burial for a local First World War hero will likely happen, and sooner rather than later.
As a surviving relative of George McLean, former Daily News editor Mel Rothenburger has taken on the task of getting his ancestor the gravesite he deserves.
“There’s a really good chance it could happen, and happen relatively soon within the schedule for marking the burial sites of veterans,” Rothenburger said Wednesday.
He’s contacted Veterans Affairs in Vancouver, who have an unmarked grave program that provides markers for veterans.
McLean rests somewhere near the Douglas Lake Ranch on the Upper Nicola Indian Reserve with only a simple wooden cross marking the spot.
Rothenburger wants to give McLean a war hero’s resting place, with a gravestone and Canadian flag.
McLean was 44 years old when he enlisted in the Armed Forces in December 1916 and sent to Europe. During the battle of Vimy Ridge, he launched a solo attack on a group of enemy soldiers.
Armed with about a dozen grenades, he single-handedly captured 19 prisoners and killed almost as many troops.
Veterans Affairs has a long list of deceased veterans with gravesites that haven’t been identified, said Rothenburger. In McLean’s case, people have a pretty good idea where he’s at rest.
“The people I’ve talked to are sure that will speed things up a lot,” he said.
The next step is contacting the Upper Nicola Indian Band, finding out exactly where McLean is buried and getting their permission to proceed with the military burial, said Rothenburger.
A spokesperson for Upper Nicola said Rothenburger and Veterans Affairs would need the approval of chief and council, but there is a desire to see McLean recognized.
McLean is the son of Allen McLean, a member of the notorious Wild McLean Gang.