Cpl William Metcalfe – VC

Thanks to Maj (ret) Al McDonald and Cpl William Burwood of the Canadian Scottish Regiment.

After much too much delay – we present the story of two members of one of Canada’s famous Highland Infantry Regiments who travelled across the continent to  honour Corporal William Metcalf, VC.

On October 12, 2012, East Port Maine, Corporal William Burwood takes up the story.

I arrived in Fredericton at midnight 2400 hrs., renting a vehicle and preparing myself for a 125km drive to St Stephens, crossing the US border and continuing southward along the Eastern coast for another 60km’s to Eastport Maine. By 0430 I reached my destination finding an empty parking lot to get a couple hours of sleep, awaiting daylight. At 0630 hrs  sun up revealed the small town of Eastport. With the help of my GPS I located the Bayside Cemetery and viewed Cpl William Henry Metcalf’s newly placed headstone. It was the traditional military style with a slightly round top, a Maple Leaf, his name, date and the Victoria Cross engraving.

I made my way to Main Street in search of breakfast. It is a quaint town with older buildings and narrow streets, built in the early 1900’s. That Sunday it was very quiet but I did manage to find the local Bakery shop open for business. The baker lady offered a welcoming smile, and two older gentlemen were seated at a corner table, enjoying their morning coffee. After ordering my coffee and breakfast sandwich and exchange of conversation, I learned there was a motel just down the street. As I sat down to enjoy my breakfast, the two gentlemen, overhearing my conversation with the baker, mentioned they are also veterans and were attending Cpl Metcalf’s rededication ceremony.

After breakfast I went to the motel.  A nice clean room overlooked the inlet adjacent to our native land, Canada. After a couple hours of sleep, it was time to prepare for the 1400 hrs ceremony at the cemetery. Upon arriving at the cemetery I was instructed that the ceremony has been moved to the Boat School, due to inclement weather (rain).

With instructions from the two fellows at the cemetery, I made my way to the Boat School.

This is where the reception was being held after the ceremony at the grave site. Immediately entering the building I was approached by our Canadian Scottish Association member Al McDonald from Montreal. There were approximately 120 people in attendance, the majority of who were Canadians.  Canadian attendance included about fifteen Royal Canadian Legion members, four RCMP, fifteen members from the Canadian Veterans motorcycle club and other Canadians who are close to the Metcalf family. Al McDonald and I were the only two from the Canadian Scottish Regimental family.                                  

The ceremony proceeded with the MC reviewing Cpl Metcalf’s autobiography, from when he enlisted with the 12th Battalion and was later assigned to reinforce the 16th Bn CEF (The Canadian Scottish). His accomplishments with the Canadian Scottish included two Military Medals for bravery and the final medal, the Victoria Cross. Convalescing in England, he met his future wife, was a nurse with the Voluntary Aid Detachment. After a courtship they were married.  On his release from the Canadian army he returned to Maine with his war bride and they resided in Eastport.

There were three wreaths laid; one Canadian laid by the RCMP, the USA wreath laid by Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Canadian Scottish laid by Al McDonald and myself. After the ceremony, a reception was held where everybody got acquainted. I was introduced to William Metcalf’s son Stanley, and Metcalf’s  two grandsons, granddaughter and great-granddaughter.  

After the reception, the rain had subsided and Al McDonald, the Metcalf family and I  returned to the cemetery. We placed poppies on William Metcalf’s headstone and took additional pictures.

After saying our farewells, William Metcalf’s son Stanley came over shook my hand , conveying his family’s appreciation of our presence on behalf of the Canadian Scottish Regiment.

The hospitality of the Eastport Maine community was overwhelming.

Deas Gu Cath

Cpl William Burwood, The Canadian Scottish Regiment.

For more on Cpl Metcalf’s service with the Canadian Scottish Regiment see their website

In the summer of 2015 a review of documentation on Cpl Metcalfe in the 16th Battalion files held at the National Archives in Ottawa revealed “Cpl Metcalfe later enlisted in “The York Regiment, “C” Company, St Stephen, N.B. ( 22 June 26) and was retired 15 Dec 36″ as a Lieutenant. A “Good Neighbor”.

 

Cpl Metcalfs new headstone-1Cpl Metcalfs son Stanley Al

Al McDonald of Montreal and Cpl William Burwood of Nanaimo BC – both are  Canadian Scottish Regiment. Seen above at Cpl Metcalf’s Memorial rededication and below with members of the Metcalf family.

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