William Henry Metcalf

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William Henry Metcalf
Cpl MetcalfVC.jpg
Born 29 January 1894
Waite, Maine, United States
Died 8 August 1968
South Portland, Maine
Buried at Bayside Cemetery, Eastport, Maine
Allegiance Canadian Red Ensign 1868-1921.svg Canada
Service/branch Canadian Expeditionary Force
Rank Lance-Corporal
Unit 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish), CEF
Battles/wars First World War
Awards

Victoria Cross (UK) ribbon.png Victoria Cross

UK Military Medal ribbon.svg Military Medal & Bar

William Henry Metcalf VC, MM (29 January 1894 – August 1968)[1] was a Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. Though born in the United States (Waite, Maine), Metcalf is also considered Canadian since he joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1914. He is one of only 6 Americans to receive the Victoria Cross.

In addition to the Victoria Cross, he was awarded the Military Medal and bar.[2][3]

Metcalf was one of seven Canadians to be awarded the Victoria Cross for their actions on one single day, 2 September 1918.[4] The other six recipients were Bellenden Hutcheson, Arthur George Knight, Claude Joseph Patrick Nunney, Cyrus Wesley Peck, Walter Leigh Rayfield and John Francis Young.

He was 23 years old, and a lance-corporal in the 16th (Canadian Scottish) Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.[1]

On 2 September 1918 at Arras, France, when the right flank of the battalion was held up, Lance-Corporal Metcalf rushed forward under intense machine-gun fire to a passing tank and with his signal flag walked in front of the tank directing it along the trench in a perfect hail of bullets and bombs. The machine-gun strong-point was overcome, very heavy casualties were inflicted and a critical situation was relieved. Later, although wounded, Corporal Metcalf continued to advance until ordered to get into a shell-hole and have his wounds dressed.[4]

The citation[edit]

The citation reads:

No. 22614 L./Cpl. William Henry Metcalf, M.M., Manitoba R.

For most conspicuous bravery, initiative and devotion to duty in attack, when, the right flank of the battalion being held up, he realised the situation and rushed forward under intense machine-gun fire to a passing Tank on the left. With his signal flag he walked in front of the Tank, directing it along the trench in a perfect hail of bullets and bombs. The machine-gun strong points were overcome, very heavy casualties were inflicted on the enemy, and a very critical situation was relieved. Later, although wounded, he continued to advance until ordered to get into a shell hole and have his wounds dressed. His valour throughout was of the highest standard.

—London Gazette, 15 November 1918.[5][6]

Family life[edit]

Metcalf was married to Dorothy Winifred Metcalf (1898–1992) and had two children, W Scott Metcalf (1919–93) and Stuart H Metcalfe (1925 - 1998).[1] He died in Lewiston, Maine on August 8, 1968.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "William Henry Metcalf". Find a Grave. Retrieved 28 September 2014. 
  2. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29893. p. 350. 6 January 1917. Retrieved 22 November 2014. (His surname is there given as Metcalfe.)
  3. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 31142. p. 1204. 24 January 1919. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
  4. ^ a b "William Henry Metcalf". National Defense and Canadian Forces. Retrieved 28 September 2014. 
  5. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 31012. p. 13473. 15 November 1918. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 31259. p. 4160. 31 March 1919. Retrieved 22 November 2014.

External links[edit]