Tuesday, 20 September 2011

World War II Veteran on the Canadian $10 Bill

If you have a Canadian $10 bill, look at the back right side of the bill. You will see an old veteran standing at attention near the Ottawa war memorial. His name is Robert Metcalfe and he died at the age of 90. 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. Enroute 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. Enroute his ship was chased by the German battleship Bismarck. In North Africa he served under General Montgomery against the Desert Fox, Rommel. 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 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 and on his retirement he and his wife moved to Ottawa.

During the past 45 years, he helped raise thousands of dollars on behalf of the Gurkha Welfare Appeal. These funds provide pensions, welfare, recreation and medical centres to the veterans of Nepal. For the past 10 years, Metcalfe was Royal Canadian Legion speaker in the "Encounters With Canada"

One day out of the blue he received a call from a government official asking him to go downtown for a photo op.  He wasn't told what the photo was for or why they chose him. "He had no idea he would be on the bill," his daughter said. And now you know the rest of the story of the old veteran on the $10 bill. 


For more of Robert Metcalfe's story:
http://rosemary-e-bachelor.suite101.com/robert-metcalfe-iconic-canadian-veteran-a75207

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