Sunday, November 3, 2013

Robert Metcalfe - VETERAN

Ever wonder about the photos on money - Take the Canadian $10 dollar bill for instance, the one with Sir John A. MacDonald on the front. Take a look at the back side of the bill. You will see an olde Veteran standing at attention near the Ottawa war memorial. His name is Robert Metcalfe, British Soldier and he passed away at the age of 90 in 2007.
Although he was not a Canadian until just after WWII, there is a very visual and uniquely Canadian connection. That he managed to live to that age is rather remarkable, given what happened in the Second World War. Born in England, he was one of the 400,000 members of the British Expeditionary Force sent to the mainland where they found themselves facing the new German warfare technique - the Blitzkrieg.
He was treating a wounded comrade when he was hit in the legs by shrapnel.
En-route to hospital, his ambulance came under fire from a German tank, which then miraculously ceased fire. Evacuated from Dunkirk on HMS Grenade, two of the sister ships with them were sunk.
Recovered, he was sent to allied campaigns in North Africa and Italy. En-route, his ship was chased by the German battleship Bismarck.
In North Africa, he served under General Montgomery against Rommel, the "Desert Fox".
Sent into the Italian campaign, he met his future wife, a lieutenant and physiotherapist in a Canadian hospital. They were married in the morning by the Mayor of the Italian town and again in the afternoon by a British Padre. After the war they settled in Chatham, New Brunswick, where he went into politics and became the warden (chairman) of the county.
At the age of 80, he wrote a book about his experiences entitled "No Time For Dreams - A Soldier's 6-year Journey Through WWII". For approx 45 years, he helped raise thousands of dollars on behalf of the Gurkha Welfare Appeal. Those funds provided pensions, welfare, recreation and medical centers to Veterans.
For 10 years, Metcalfe was Royal Canadian Legion Speaker in the "Encounters with Canada" program, addressing grade 12 and 13 students. He also served for many years as a Canadian War Museum volunteer guide, offering insight into achievements and sacrifices of Canadian Veterans.
In 1996, he was awarded a life membership in the Royal Canadian Legion in recognition of his commitment to veterans and support of the RCL (Royal Canadian Legion).
He hosted, at his own expense, many groups of Veterans and their families in Europe, leading them on visits to First World War battlefields, cemeteries and cenotaphs. In addition to funding two tours to Sicily and Italy, Metcalfe conducted several tours coinciding with D-Day Anniversaries. He personally researched the sites prior to conducting the tours, ensuring that next of kin would visit the final resting places of their relatives and comrades.
One day out of the blue, he received a call from a government official asking him to go downtown for a photo-op. He was not told what the photo was for or why they chose him. "He had no idea he would be on the $10 bill", his daughter said.
And now you know the History of the olde Veteran on our $10 bill, in the name of Robert Metcalfe - 
Iconic Canadian Veteran.
Across this wide world of ours, we have each known many of the valiant men and women who served, those who came home; those who rest in battle fields, with equally compelling stories - stories passed on by Mum's n Dads, Sisters and Brothers, n Grandparents; stories passed on and retold throughout households round the world - Remember and Respect - God Bless All Veterans.
As British Prime Minister Winston Churchill observed following the Battle of Britain - "Never in the field of human conflict, was so much owed by so many to so few". 


DJan said...

This post is simply WONDERFUL! Thank you for introducing me to the fantastic individual who graces your ten. Wow, Saucy. You're the best! :-)

Gail said...

What a giving life he led. I wish I could thank him.

I thank all Veterans everywhere.

Red said...

A well said tribute.
We have some stories from the vets about what they went through. We'll never really know as most do not say much about their experiences.
This vet was a very amazing man.

Wsprsweetly Of Cottages said...

I love that you take so much time to get to know people who have given so much to your country! It's wonderful!
And thank you also for the compliment. :) You always make me grateful you are in my life..
Do Canadian's do Thanksgiving? Probably not. Just wondering..
P.S. Love to Jack and Rosie! :)

biebkriebels said...

What a nice story you made about this veteran. The Dutch will be grateful for ever that the Canadians liberated our country in 1945. We have a special bond with them and many Dutch people emigrated in the fifties to your country to get away from the miserable state our country was left after the war. A niece of my mother married her Canadian soldier and live in Canada until her death.

genie said...

What a wonderful tribute to this memorable person and war veteran. I love the way you put the post together and saved that photo of the two of you together until the end. What a precious shot. All of your posts are so interesting and educational. Hope you all are well. genie

Friko said...

A truly remarkable and extraordinary man who deserves every honour given to him.

Francesca Edesia said...

What a lovely tribute to a great man. Thank you for sharing the story Saucy.

Jackie said...

Absolutely wonderful blog, Saucy. I hold him in highest I do all of our veterans. God bless him for his dedicated service.
Thank you for sharing his story with me. I would have never known.
Hugs and warmest smiles to you,

Wsprsweetly Of Cottages said...

What a great story, Lilly!! Old soldiers never die..they just fade away. That quote fits them perfectly!

Red Nomad OZ said...

Isn't it weird how so many WWII veterans lived for so long after surviving such horrors!! Such an interesting story - so great that a non-Canadian could achieve such an honour!

Gail said...

Wonderful story.

Thanks again to all have served and are serving their countries.