THE HEADSTONE OVER THE GRAVE OF CAPTAIN GEORGE MCKEAN VC MC MM, 14TH BN ( ROYAL MONTREAL REGIMENT ) CANADIAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE, HAS BEEN CLEANED AND REFURBISHED IN THE EXTRA-MURAL CEMETERY, LEWES ROAD, BRIGHTON.
18 January 2022

George McKean was one of Canada's most highly decorated soldiers of the First World War. Following his death in 1926 he was buried in Brighton's Extra-Mural Cemetery with a CWGC style headstone marking his grave. The stone has now been brought back to its original state by a cleaning process carried out by local man Steve Davies.



George McKean's headstone:
before and after


For the award of the Victoria Cross.

[ London Gazette, 28 June 1918 ], Gavrelle, France, 27-28 April 1918, Lieutenant George Burdon McKean, 14th Bn ( Royal Montreal Regiment ), CEF.

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty during a raid on the enemy’s trenches. ( Gavrelle Sector, France ) Lieutenant McKean’s party, which was operating on the right flank, was held up at a block in the communication trench by most intense fire from hand grenades and machine guns. This block, which was too close to our trenches to have been engaged by the preliminary bombardment, was well protected by wire and covered by a well protected machine gun 30 yards behind it.

Realising that if this block were not destroyed, the success of the whole operation might be marred, he ran into the open to the right flank of the block, and with utter disregard of danger, leaped over the block head first on top of the enemy. Whilst lying on the ground on top of one of the enemy, another rushed at him with fixed bayonet; Lieutenant McKean shot him through the body and then shot the enemy underneath him, who was struggling violently.

This very gallant action enabled this position to be captured. Lieutenant McKean’s supply of bombs ran out at this time, and he sent back to our front line for a fresh supply. Whilst waiting for them he engaged the enemy single-handed. When the bombs arrived, he fearlessly rushed the second block, killing two of the enemy, captured four others and drove the remaining garrison, including a hostile machine-gun section, into a dug-out. The dug-out, with its occupants and machine gun, was destroyed.

This officer’s splendid bravery and dash undoubtedly saved many lives, for had not this position been captured, the whole of the raiding party would have been exposed to dangerous enfilading fire during the withdrawal. His leadership at all times has been beyond praise.

George McKean was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 17th July 1918.

For the award of the Military Medal

[ London Gazette, 26 April 1917 ], Nr Lens, France, March 1917, Private George Burdon McKean, 14th Bn ( Royal Montreal Regiment ), CEF.

Private George McKean led scouting patrols at Bully-Grenay where he was wounded.


For the award of the Military Cross

[ London Gazette, 1 February 1919 ], Nr Cagnicourt, France, 1st / 2nd September 1918, Lieutenant George Burdon McKean, 14th Bn ( Royal Montreal Regiment ), CEF.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during an attack near Cagnicourt, on September 1st / 2nd, 1918. As a scout officer during two days' heavy fighting, he with his scouts led the battalion forward and sent in accurate reports, and rallied men who had lost their officers.

He was early wounded, but pressed forward and entered Cagnicourt with three men, and observing a party of the enemy over a hundred strong retiring from the village, he dashed to a flank and headed them off and caused them all to surrender. Had these enemy troops been allowed to gain the high ground east of the village, they would have inflicted heavy casualties on our troops.

He continued to send in reports until exhausted by loss of blood. His conduct throughout was magnificent.

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Iain Stewart, 18 January 2022