Staff-Sergeant William Kenneth MacLean


Unit : 398th Composite Company, RASC

Service No. : S/126139

Awards : Croix de Guerre with Bronze Star


Staff Sergeant MacLean was the senior NCO in the Composite Platoon of 398 Company RASC (Airborne Division Composite) which was responsible for the maintenance of 6 Airborne Division from 7th June - 31st August 1944.


On the night of 21/22nd June 1944 the Divisional Ammunition Dump located at Ranville was set on fire by enemy action and without thought of personal safety, this NCO was immediately on the scene organising fire-fighting parties and removing the more dangerous natures himself. Through his prompt and fearless action, this invaluable dump was saved from destruction.


Some two hours later the dump was again set on fire, this time involving gun and mortar ammunition, and Staff Sergeant MacLean again led the fire-fighting amidst a heavy concentration of enemy gun and mortar fire centred on the blazing dump, to which hazard was added the explosions from the burning ammunition.


It was only when the position was hopeless and he was ordered away by an officer that he left the scene and then not until he had ensured that the men under his command had reached a place of safety. Finding one man of his platoon still missing, he again braved the holocaust of fire and it was only when he had found the man dead that he went to a place of safety himself.


He thereupon set about assessing the loss caused by the fire with the result that replenishment was effected early next morning.


Throughout the period of the campaign he was an inspiring example to everyone, seemingly indefatigable, and showed outstanding leadership of an order unusual in an NCO.


This leadership was instrumental in ensuring that the Composite Platoon throughout the campaign maintained a force five times the size of that for which it was designed and this, at all times, within range of enemy fire.


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