Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Veteran On Our Ten Dollar 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 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.
  • 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 veteran on the $10 bill.

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