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James Johnston McLean

Portrait - This image may be subject to copyright

Portrait - This image may be subject to copyright


  • Title
  • Forenames
    James Johnston AWMM
  • Surname
    McLean AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
  • Service number
    • NZ417080 AWMM
    • WWII 417080 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi / Hapū / Waka / Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
    5 December 1923 Public Source
  • Date of birth
    December 5th, 1923 Public - Ian Banks - Researcher - 15 September 2020 - research
  • Place of birth
    Auckland, New Zealand. Public - Ian Banks - Researcher - 15 September 2020 - research
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
  • Post war occupation
    Clerk, Justice Department, Auckland. Public - Ian Banks - Researcher - 15 September 2020 - research
  • Next of kin on embarkation
    • Olive Claire McLean (wife), Royal Oak, Auckland, New Zealand AWMM
    • WW2 Wife: Mrs. O. C. McLean of Auckland (1 Child) 1 Raurenga Avenue, Epsom, Auckland AWMM
    • WW2 Parents: Mr. and Mrs. D. W. McLean of Aucklan AWMM
  • Relationship status


Wars and conflicts

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Military decorations

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Training and Enlistment

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  • Military training
    • Levin AWMM
    • New Plymouth AWMM
    • Woodbourne AWMM
  • Branch Trade Proficiency
    Pilot/Military RNZAF Biographies (R17845613)
  • Enlistment
    WW2 Jun 1941 AWMM Clerk AWMM
  • Occupation before enlistment
  • Age on enlistment


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Prisoner of war

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  • Capture details
  • Days interned
  • Liberation date
  • Liberation Repatriation
  • POW liberation details
  • POW serial number

Medical history

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  • Medical notes
    Killed in Action, Cause of Death AWMM
    Killed on air operations AWMM

Biographical information

Biographical information

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    • James McLean was the son of David William and Lizzie McLean, of Te Papapa, Auckland, New Zealand; husband of Olive Claire (nee Firth) McLean, of Epsom, Auckland.

      Attended Te Papapa Primary and Otahuhu Technical High School. He enjoyed soccer, running and tennis, being captain 1st Soccer XI.

      He died after returning from a successful operation over Europe in a Spitfire when a plane malfunction neccessitated a bale-out into the English Channel. Pilots saw James onto a semi-inflated rubber dinghy and had to leave after a few minutes, however when air-sea rescue service arrived, there was no sign of James, or the dinghy, only oil where the spitfire had submerged. A search until dark revealed no trace. The operation was just after 1pm in the afternoon.

      Attended Seddon Memorial Technical College (Source: RNZAF Biographies (R17845613)) AWMM
    • Operation: Rhubarb
      Date: 12th June 1944 (Monday)
      Unit: No. 165 Squadron
      Type: Spitfire LF.IX
      Serial: MK567
      Code: SK-Q
      Base: RAF Preddanack, Cornwall
      Location: English Channel south of Start Point
      Pilot: Sgt. James Johnston McLean NZ/417080 RNZAF Age 20.

      Taking off at 11:30 hrs on Rhubarb 278 operation. After attacking a military transport convoy west of Lambelle, the remaining two Spitfires from the squadron started to return to RAF Preddanack.

      Whilst over the English Channel Sgt. McLean reported that his aircraft was suffering problems with the engine. Some 8 minutes later he abandoned the aircraft 70 miles south of Start Point. The other Spitfire circled and saw the pilot holding onto the end of his dingy and that his parachute had half covered that. He was forced to return due to lack of fuel. Air sea rescue were dispatched to pick him up and searched till early evening, but no trace could be found.

      The squadron had lost another experienced pilot, Sgt. James McLean had 450 hours in
      his log book and this had been his 38th operation.

      Also lost from the squadron during the same operation:
      Spitfire IX MK471 SK-N Flown by 21 year old, P/O. Donald Moffat-Wilson 17334

      During this day 10 pilots were killed or missing, 2 injured with 6 others safe
      after either baling out or crash landing. 10 Spitfires, 8 Typhoons lost.
      Right: P/O. Donald Moffat-Wilson Public - James - Direct descendant - 25 April 2018 - Aircrew Remembered Website
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About death

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  • Death
    12 June 1944 AWMM
    Age 20 AWMM
    English Channel AWMM
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
  • Cemetery name
  • Grave reference
  • Obituary
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference



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  • Memorial name
    • Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, United Kingdom AWMM
    • Onehunga War Memorial Swimming Pool, Jellicoe Park (off Quadrant Road), Park Gardens, Onehunga, Auckland, New Zealand AWMM
    • Auckland War Memorial Museum, World War 2 Hall of Memories AWMM

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  • External links
  • References
    • Martyn, E. (1998-2008). For Your Tomorrow (Vols. 1-3). Christchurch, N.Z.: Volplane Press. AWMM
    • Information kindly provided by family AWMM
      Otahuhu College Archives (2001) AWMM
    • Martyn, E. (1998-2008). For Your Tomorrow (Vols. 1-3). Christchurch, N.Z.: Volplane Press. AWMM
      Martyn, E. (1998-2008). vol. 2 p. 237; vol. 3 p. 339 AWMM
    • RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Biographies of Deceased Personnel 1939 - 1945 (Bound Volumes) - Ma - McW. Archives New Zealand (R17845613) - Former archives reference: AIR118 AWMM
    • List of RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Personnel - List of Personnel Killed or Missing in Various Theatres, 1940 - 1945. [Missing - But Presumed Dead on Lapse of Time - Officers, Airmen]. Archives New Zealand (R17845743) AWMM
    • Please note that the 12 volumes of the "RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Biographies of Deceased Personnel 1939-1945" held at Archives NZ (formerly known as AIR118) should be used in conjunction with Errol Martyn's "For Your Tomorrow". FYT reflects detailed examination of all of the AIR118 bios which contain many inaccuracies and omissions. AWMM
    • List of RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Personnel - List of Personnel Killed or Missing in Various Theatres, 1940 - 1945. [List of Missing]. Archives New Zealand (R17845747) AWMM


Command item
Command item
Add new record Refresh
DateFirst namesLocationRelationshipContact
15 September 2020Ian BanksTaumarunui New ZealandResearcher
30 April 2020JamesAuckland Direct descendant
25 April 2018JamesAucklandDirect descendant

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