A blog written by Richard Nelson, volunteer at Trafford Local Studies. Two Stretford Scouts win the Military Medal at Passchendaele
During the First World War, and in the period following, Stretford Urban District Council recorded in the minutes of its meetings the names and a little detail of the servicemen in the district who were awarded medals for gallantry. Wherever possible medals were presented to the man in person, or members of his family, at the monthly meeting of the Council or one of its sub committees.
Amongst the lists of names were Reginald Cecil Clough and John Goodlet McLean, two Scouts from Stretford who shared the same experiences of the war and who were both awarded the Military Medal for the part each played in events on Passchendaele Ridge on the evening of 10th – 11th November 1917. Further investigation has discovered that their lives, both before and after the war, were closely linked.
The two experienced a very different early life. Reginald Cecil Clough was born in Southport on 29th December 1895, the son of John Clough, a warehouseman from Stretford, and Mary Elizabeth (née Robinson) also from Stretford. By the time of the 1901 census the family had settled at 8 Bannister Street, Stretford, and could still be found living at this address in the 1920s. The 1911 census shows us that Reginald, aged 15, had found employment as a clerk for an insurance company.
John Goodlet McLean was born on 14th February 1898 in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA, the region in which Pittsburgh is situated. His parents had moved there in 1892. His father was Matthew Adam McLean, described as a superintendent in electrical machine manufacture on the 1911 UK census (perhaps working for Westinghouse in Trafford Park whose headquarters were in Pittsburgh). Both his parents were from Lanarkshire, his father from Mossend and his mother Janet (née Goodlet), born in Coatbridge. The family home was at 1315 Wesley Street, Wilkinsburg, Allegheny, Pennsylvania at the time of the 1900 USA census. John, age four, returned to the UK from USA with his parents on 27th May 1902, arriving at Liverpool from New York on the Cunard ship “Saxonia”. The family were living at 127 Derbyshire Lane, Stretford by the time of the 1911 census.
Both Reginald and John attended Victoria Park School, Stretford. Both were also members of 1st Longford Scouts. Both are described in the records of Stretford Council as being amongst the first to join the Scout movement. A history in Trafford Local Studies archive, entitled “The 1st Stretford (Longford) Scout Group, 1908 – 2003”, by Keith Chadbourne, states that Reginald Clough was in fact the third boy to join the group after its formation in June 1908 (the Scout movement had only come into existence in January that year with the publication of the first volume of Baden-Powell’s “Scouting for Boys”). John McLean is recorded in the same history as a Patrol Leader by 1910. Both were members of the “Court of Honour” which arranged the organisation of the Troop. In 1911 the Chief Scout, Sir Robert Baden-Powell, visited the Headquarters of the 1st Longford Troop in the school room of Union Congregational Church on Edge Lane, Stretford, before it relocated to new headquarters in a converted cattle shed on Longford Park in December 1912.
1st Longford Scout Group at camp. cMarch 1912
Within a few weeks of the outbreak of war Reginald and John were amongst a group of eight scouts of the 1st Longford troop who became Overseas Volunteers for the British Red Cross Society and arrived in France on 28th October 1914, only thirty six hours after volunteering. Reginald was 18, John McLean only 16. They served as orderlies in the British Red Cross at Boulogne Unit No. 5. This hospital, known as Lady Hadfield’s, was at Wimereux, outside Boulogne. They worked there until December 1915 and both were awarded the 1914 Star for their service.
On return, at a date unknown, they both joined the Royal Engineers, and their Military Medal cards show that both served together in the 66th (East Lancashire) Divisional Signal Company. Reginald joined as a Pioneer, number 444490 and John as a Sapper, number 444505. Both had been promoted to Lance Corporal by the time they were awarded the Military Medal.
On 12th March 1918 Military Medals were presented to them both at the Stretford Urban District Council Offices. This event was attended by councillors, the Headmaster of Victoria Park School and Scoutmaster of 1st Longford Scout troop, as well as John’s father and Reginald’s mother. Amongst the records of Stretford Council at Trafford Local Studies are the citations that were read out on that occasion which give an account of their brave deeds. These show that the two friends were again closely involved in the same action:
Not content with sharing their war experience, the two of them continued to be linked. The Electoral Roll shows that John McLean was living at 8 Bannister Street, Stretford in 1922, the home of the Clough family. In 1922 Reginald cemented the relationship by marrying Jennie Allan McLean, John’s sister, at Peel Methodist Chapel on the Isle of Man.
Reginald continued his work for the Scouts and became District Treasurer and the longest serving administrator in the district, holding office from 1930 – 1974. He is recorded as a Company Accountant on the 1939 Register and lived in Irlam (1923 to 1926), Stretford (1926 to at least 1931) and Ashton on Mersey where he died on 21st February 1974. He was cremated at Altrincham Crematorium.
John Goodlet McLean married Ada Marjory Biney at Stretford Parish Church on 24th September 1924. He worked as a draughtsman and production engineer and continued to live in Stretford before moving to Ashton Lane, Sale by the time the 1939 Register was compiled. He died in Manchester in the second quarter of 1974, aged 76.
Trafford Local Studies
Citations in records of Stretford Urban District Council, STR/10/1/3/1 12 Mar 1918
1st Stretford (Longford) Scout Group 1908 – 2003, The First 95 Years, by Keith Chadbourne, TRA 198 Box 11, Stretford Scouts Records 1914 – 1929
Altrincham, Bowdon & Hale Guardian 15 Mar 1918, P5 Col 3
Stretford Division Advertiser 15 Mar 1918, P3 Col 1
Epitome of Proceedings, Stretford UDC Monthly Council Meeting, Trafford Local Studies, STR/1/2/2/21 P 355, 5 Mar 1918
Stretford UDC Minutes, STR1/1/14/1 P 153, 19 Mar 1918
Epitome of Proceedings, Stretford UDC General Purpose Committee, STR1/2/2/21 p 379.
UK Census 1901 & 1911, USA Census 1900
Records of Birth, Marriage & Death
National Probate Calendar
Kelly’s Directory 1929
Post Office Telephone Directories
British Red Cross Register of Overseas Volunteers 1914 – 1918
Medal Roll Index Cards and Medal Rolls
Lancashire on line Parish Clerk (www.lan-opc.org.uk)
UK Incoming Passenger Lists
Various Family Trees on Ancestry.co.uk