Lately the troops who are battling evil in the mid-east on our behalf have been taking a lot of flak. Not just with anti war protests, but with attacks so cruel they make one ask if we have begun the decent into madness. There has been everything from calling them murderers to to charges being laid against them for “following orders” on a battlefield. Seems our politically correct leaders have lost their way and can’t seem to identify their enemy, much less figure out how to defeat them.
This story is not new and somewhat late for a Veterans Day post but it is one of the few things these days that seem to be “done right”. As a Canuck I am proud that the government decided to publicly honour one of the many who have, and still do, put their lives on the line so the very ones calling them names can do so “safely”.
Take a close look at the right-hand side of a Canadian $10 bill–you will see an old veteran standing at attention near the Ottawa war memorial. His name is Robert Metcalfe and he died in September 2008 at the age of 90. Like most heroes not much is known about him by the general public. Given his exploits in the Second World War it is a wonder he survived at all.
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. While treating a wounded comrade 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. When he 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 and later was sent into the Italian campaign, where 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, Ontario where he went into politics and became the warden (chairman) of the county and on his retirement he and his wife moved to Ottawa. At the age of 80 he wrote a book about his experiences–I wonder how many people have read it.
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. Too bad this story didn’t go viral while he was still alive.
May God give you peace Robert Metcalfe.