CAN YOU PLEASE HELP US? We are searching for the First World War medals of Private William Henry METCALFE.
His grandson, Algy METCALFE from Barnoldswick in the U.K. is attempting to locate and bring the service medals of William Henry METCALFE (also known as ‘Harry’) – back to his family. It would mean a great deal to him, to have these war medals (the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal) returned to the safe keeping of the METCALFE descendants. Algy indicates that they were sold by another member of the family some time ago. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence and I have often heard of similar stories. Just because one member of the family does not see the need to retain such family heirlooms, this is not necessarily the viewpoint of other descendants within that same clan. In many instances, the medals are sold and ‘long gone’ before other family members even realise that the awards had been put up for sale.
So where does that leave people like Algy METCALFE?
Algy does not even know his grandfather’s service number. He asks if anybody in the U.K. can help him to ascertain his grandfather’s Service Number and any other information that will ultimately assist him in his quest.
Image Left: William Henry METCALFE (centre man with moustache), lined up as a volunteer for Kitchener’s Army on the cricket pitch at Settle, Yorkshire. Note the yellow armband around the right upper arms of Harry and his fellow recruits.
His grandfather was born at Thorlaby near Aysgarth in Wensleydale. William joined the ‘Settle’ Company of the 10th Battalion, The Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment. A photograph exists of his grandfather wearing a yellow armband, on Settle Cricket field in September of 1914 as a volunteer in Kitchener’s Army. A second photograph taken circa 1918, shows William with his wife. At this time, he was believed to be serving as a Driver with the A.S.C. (Army Service Corps).
If you can assist Algy with any information that may assist in his quest to have William’s medals returned to the METCALFE family, please contact the Medals Gone Missing Administrator through this website.
Image Right: Driver William Henry (Harry) METCALFE in uniform, which bears evidence of overseas service chevrons. Photo believed to be taken Circa 1918.
It is a sad fact that so many medals are put up for sale in this day and age. In a perfect world, every serviceman and woman would have a family member or descendant who values the sacrifice which they themselves made, during a time of war. It would be nice to think that somebody within their family, cherishes the memory of an ancestor and holds dear to them – any piece of memorabilia that is a reminder of their life. But the reality is – not everybody places a sentimental value on such service medals. However, to make the comment “They were sold by the family….so the family does not want them” is not entirely correct. For every one serviceman…..there is at least one niece or nephew, grandchild or second cousin who – had they been given the opportunity – would have loved to be willed these service medals. The problem is….they were never asked, nor did they know that the medals were even placed on the open market for purchase by a stranger. Whilst this “stranger” may very well be a collector who values these medals and the sacrifice made by the person behind them….I ask that they consider selling these medals back to the family – should a request be made. After all, there are plenty of medal sets out there which “nobody” is looking for ! Yet !
As with this case – there is one grandson who would dearly love to have his grandfather’s service medals returned…..Can you help?
I don’t Know if you can get more info from The Duke Of Wellington Regt. In Halifax Yorkshire England. But it would be worth a try. Its 53 years since I left Halifax but that is where The Duke Of Wellington Regt. was when I left Halifax.
A relative of mine, John Bargh of Gargrave, was also a member of the 10th Btn, West Riding Regiment. I wonder if he also enlisted in Settle? His family were farmers and three other brothers also served: James the eldest was taken prisoner but returned home at the end of the war, Miles Taylor Bargh was promoted to Major in the Royal Field Artillery and the youngest, Billy, enlisted in 1918. Remarkably, all survived. If you have any lists of names of others in the 10th W. Riding Regt, I would be very interested to see it. Best of luck with the medal hunt: always a tricky business! Regards, Tricia (Secretary, Bradford WW1 Group)
I should have added, my Great grandmother was Sarah Metcalfe, born in Askrigg in 1841. She married George Platts of Halifax c. 1871 and may have been living at Redmire/Castle Bolton at the time of her marriage. I know nothing about her family but wonder if there is any connection?
Hello Tricia and thank you for your comments. Unfortunately I do not have a list of names, however can I suggest that between us – we do another short story and seek out anybody who may have a ‘list’. Would you also like to make contact with other relatives of servicemen in the 10th Battalion, West Riding Regiment? It would be nice for them to know that your organisation exists (Bradford WW1 Group) and if you wish, we can put a link directly to your site, if you have one? If you do not have a website, I would be more than happy for you to speak to these people through the Medals Gone Missing website. Kind regards Gary Traynor, Medals Gone Missing Administrator.
My grandfather was in the West Riding Regiment and I was working on a theory that he was possibly in the 10th Battalion; as the date of entry into a theatre of war in France was late August 1915. Possibly the 28th of August, 1915. I think no other West Riding Regiment went on this date. A possible clue I found were 4 other soldiers with the first 3 digits of there service numbers starting with 137. My grandfather’s number was 13705. He lived in Caton Nr Lancaster and I was interested to read that some West Riding Regiment soldiers joined in Settle, then only being a short train ride from Caton.
Thank you Alan for your information. I would certainly like to hear more about your grandfather if you have other facts which relate to his service. If you so desire, I would welcome a similar story regarding his history and we can link these stories up.
I am currently researching the history of 10th battalion Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment and have assembled a database of c.280 men who served. William Henry Metcalfe was listed in local newspaper reports as having been a recruit to a body of recruits known as ‘Tunstill’s Men’, who were part of the 10th (as shown in the photograph submitted by Algy), but has no medal record card under that service. There are other instances of men who originally enlisted in the 10th, but were then transferred to other units, including the Army Cyclist Corps. I feel sure that this was what happened to William who transferred to the ASC. I should very much like to be in contact with Algy and also with Alan Robinson, who commented and raised the case of his grandfather. Hugh Robinson was indeed another member of Tunstill’s Men and I could certainly give Alan some information about his grandfather. Hope this is of interest and to hear from you soon.