Decorated Petrolia World War II vet ‘Sir Sid’ dies

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Sir Sid McLean seen here in the French Legion of Honor ceremony in December 2014. McLean died Wednesday. He was 95.

A man dubbed a hero who called himself an ordinary guy has passed away.

Sir Sid McLean died Wednesday after a brief illness. McLean, who is believed to be the last surviving veteran of World War II in Petrolia, was given the French Legion of Honor for his service in that country during the 1940s.

McLean, who enlisted in the army at 16 in Watford, was part of some of the most dangerous battles of the liberation of France, including an attempt to take Verrieres Ridge after Caen was liberated. “A few days earlier, the allies had tried to take the ridge and were beaten back…with very heavy casualties,” Smith told about 150 people gathered to watch the historic event. It was there Canada suffered its “bloodiest day” since the Dieppe invasion.

McLean helped capture Falaise, Turn and Chamois, cutting off a key region to the Germans. But it came with a cost – 5,500 Canadians killed.

In the two months McLean was in France, 7,000 Canadians were killed. “Sid is the only survivor of his original gun crew that landed on Juno Beach,” said Eugene Smith – a veteran himself, during the ceremony to bestow the Legion of Honor in December 2014.

He went on to help the Canadian Army liberate Belgium and France and came home at the age of 20.

McLean settled back in the Petrolia area working among other places, at Imperial Oil. He’s also been an active member of the local legion, an Oil Springs firefighter and council member.

At the time of the ceremony, McLean didn’t talk a lot about his wartime service.  And he brushed away talk that he’s a hero. “I’m no hero. I’m just an ordinary guy,” he said at the time.

McLean was 95. Visitation will be Monday from 6-9 pm with a Royal Canadian Legion No. 216 service at 8:45 pm at the Needham-Jay Funeral Home in Petrolia. The funeral service will take place on Tues., March 19, 2019 at 1 pm at the funeral home.

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