Victoria Cross Headstone Dedicated In Eastport - Oct. 10, 2012
A gravesite in Eastport was the focus of overdue international attention last Sunday.
William Henry Metcalf VC, 1894-1968 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.
But Metcalf was born in Waite, Maine and is one of only 6 Americans to receive the Victoria Cross.
Rhonda Voisine of the Border Historical Society in Eastport told WQDY NEWS, "He was an American citizen and he was too young to join the miltary in the states -- they wouldn't accept him. So he went to St. Stephen and tried to get into the Canadian military and they said he was too young. Then he went to Fredericton and they took him."
Metcalf 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.
It was on September 2, 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.
Following his military service, Voisine said Metcalf returned to the states. "He lived here in Eastport and drove the school bus."
Metcalf died in 1968 at the age of 74 and is buried at Bayside Cemetery in Eastport, Maine. A replica Victoria Cross was placed next to his headstone.
Replica Victoria Cross at gravesite of William H. Metcalf in Eastport-WQDY NEWS PHOTO
More recently, a new Victoria Cross stone was placed next to his grave.
"Earlier this summer, city hall here in Eastport got a call from Canada regarding where Mr. Metcalf's grave was at Bayside. They gave him directions and the gentleman came down and saw that Metcalf did not have a Victoria Cross stone," Voisine said.
"Apparently, this person went back to Canada and did some 'moving' because within less than two weeks --- the stone was carved and set in place by [Metcalf's] grave."
WQDY NEWS PHOTO
On Sunday October 14, Canadian and U.S. veterans and other dignitaries from both sides of border gathered at Bayside Cemetery for a service dedicating the new headstone for William "Bill" Metcalf.
"I think Mr. Metcalf would really be proud," Voisine said.
STORY/PICTURES: Tom McLaughlin WQDY-WALZ email@example.com