William Henry Metcalf
William Henry Metcalf
|Born||29 January 1894|
Waite, Maine, United States
|Died||8 August 1968 (aged 74)|
South Portland, Maine, United States
Bayside Cemetery, Eastport, Maine
|Service/||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Unit||16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish), CEF|
|Battles/wars||First World War|
Military Medal & Bar
William Henry Metcalf VC, MM & Bar (29 January 1894 – 8 August 1968) was an American soldier in the Canadian Army during World War I. Metcalf was a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. Although Metcalf was born in the United States, Metcalf is also considered Canadian since he joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1914. He is one of only six Americans to receive the Victoria Cross.
Metcalf was one of seven Canadian soldiers to be awarded the Victoria Cross for their actions on one single day, 2 September 1918, for actions across the 30-kilometre-long (19 mi) Drocourt-Quéant Line near Arras, France. 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.
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.
Victoria Cross citation
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.
Metcalf was born on 29 January 1894 at Talmadge, Washington, Maine, the son of Henry Metcalf and Theresa Lorinzo Varnum He married Dorothy Winifred Holland Metcalf (1898–1992) on 20 November 1918 in Sussex, England, and had four children, William Scott Metcalf (1919–93), Stuart Holland Metcalfe (1925–1998), Sheila D Metcalf (c1927- ?), and Stanley H Metcalf (c1937-?). He died in South Portland, Cumberland, Maine on 8 August 1968.
- "William Henry Metcalf". Find a Grave. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
- "William Henry Metcalf". National Defense and Canadian Forces. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
- "No. 31012". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 November 1918. p. 13473.
- "No. 31259". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 March 1919. p. 4160.
- "No. 29893". The London Gazette (Supplement). 6 January 1917. p. 350.(His surname is there given as Metcalfe.)
- "No. 31142". The London Gazette (Supplement). 24 January 1919. p. 1204.
- Metcalf, William. "Maine, Birth Records,1621-1922". Ancestry.com. Ancestry. Retrieved 22 Feb 2016.
- Varnum, Theresa. "Maine, Birth Records, 1621-1922". Ancestry.com. Ancestry. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
- Holland, Dorothy. "England and Wales, FREEBMD Index, 1837-1915". Ancestry.com. Ancestry. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
- Metcalf, Dorothy. "England and Wales, Marriage Index, 1916 - 2005". Ancestry.com. Ancestry. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
- Metcalf. "1940 United States Census". Ancestry.com. Ancestry. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
- Metcalf, William. "UK, Victoria Cross Medals, 1857-2007". Ancestry.com. Ancestry. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
- William Henry Metcalf's digitized service file
- The Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary's) Warrant Officers' and Sergeants' Mess (Lance-Corporal William Henry Metcalf entry)
- Burial location of William Metcalf "Eastport, Maine, USA"
- News item "William Metcalf's Victoria Cross donated to the Canadian Scottish Regiment Museum"
- Legion Magazine-The Magnificent Seven
- Canadian Scottish Museum
- Veterans Affairs Canada