Flight Sergeant Douglas Wallace Maclean

Posted on 30 January 2019
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Born in the Sydney suburb of Penrith on 27 March 1912, Douglas Maclean was the son of Norman and Lela Maclean. 

Growing up, the young Douglas Maclean went to the local primary school and then onto Petersham Intermediate High School. He later attended Sydney Technical College, where he trained as a wool classer. 

A keen sportsman, Maclean played rugby union, cricket, tennis and golf. He also surfed.

After finishing high school in 1929, Maclean started his first job as a clerk at Dalgety and Company in Sydney. The company was in agricultural wholesaling, brokering and shipping Australian wool to Europe. Douglas worked in this job for 12 years. He also served for two years in the 9th Field Brigade of the Militia.

On 2 August 1941, Douglas Maclean married Jessie Violet Duncan in Sydney. Shortly afterwards, on 11 October, he enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force. 

He began training as a pilot. After initial training in Australia, Douglas embarked in Melbourne on 22 May 1942 for overseas service, first to Canada, where he spent five months training, and then to Britain.

As part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, he was one of almost 27,500 RAAF pilots, navigators, wireless operators, gunners and engineers who, throughout the course of the war, joined Royal Air Force squadrons or Australian squadrons based in Britain.

After his arrival in Britain on 5 November 1942, Maclean undertook further specialist training before being posted to No. 12 Squadron, Royal Air Force on 14 July 1944. No. 12 Squadron was part of RAF Bomber Command and was equipped with four-engined Avro Lancaster heavy bombers.

On the night of 23 October, Maclean was piloting a Lancaster in a bombing raid on Essen, Germany. His aircraft was shot down and crashed near the border between Germany and the Netherlands.

Maclean and all six of his crewmates were killed. Their bodies were recovered from the crash site and buried side by side in the Winterswijk Cemetery in the Netherlands.

Douglas Maclean had been with his squadron for just three months. He was 32 years old.