Westmount, Quebec – 09 May 2019: THE CAPTAIN G.B. MCKEAN, VC, MC, MM TROPHY (BEST SOLDIER) award is given to the most deserving soldier who displayed the best attendance, technical ability, leadership potential, relations with peers and superiors, dress, and the extent to which he/she embodies the Regimental spirit. The Regiment’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Shone, and the Regimental Sergeant-Major, Master Warrant Officer Leroux, were pleased to announce at the Regiment’s battalion review parade held on 05 May 2019 that Master-Corporal Alexander Loeven had earned the McKean Trophy for the 2018-19 training year.
The trophy is named after George Burdon McKean, who was born in northern England, and orphaned young. In 1902, at the age of 14, he moved to Alberta to join two brothers who had already emigrated. After working on a cattle ranch and farm near Lethbridge, he studied at Robertson College, an affiliate of the University of Alberta.
When war broke out, the 26-year-old, who was the assistant to the pastor at Robertson Presbyterian Church, tried joining up three times before being accepted and sent for overseas service.
After serving as a Scout (now known as Recce Platoon) McKean had been promoted to officer when he led a raiding party April 27-28, 1918 near Vimy Ridge as part of The Royal Montreal Regiment (14th Battalion). He and his party were trying to dislodge a German garrison using Mills bombs, known as pineapples, but when those failed, he took a more direct route.
The “wiry little whippet of a man”, as he had been described, jumped into the trench head first, landing on a German soldier. He was then rushed by another soldier with a bayonet. He shot and killed both with his revolver before the rest of his party followed his example and swarmed the barricade.
He was later made acting captain and a senior manager at the Canadian Khaki University in England, married a British woman, and settled in Brighton, where he operated a sawmill. After surviving four years of war, he was killed in 1926 when a circular saw broke and pieces flew into his head. He is buried in Brighton.
Captain George McKean, VC, MC, MM is one of very few men to have ever earned three different awards for bravery under fire, and he is a RMR hero who led by example and set the highest standard for soldiering, leadership, and personal courage.
Master-Corporal Alexander Loeven should be very proud to have earned an award named after Captain McKean. You can learn more about him in the RMR Museum and on the RMR website.