Service Royal Navy
Buried Blundellsands, Liverpool
Christopher Powell Metcalf was born on the 25th March 1873 in Tadcaster, the son of the Revd. Joseph Powell Metcalf, the vicar of Tadcaster and his wife Rose Althamiah Metcalf (nee Prideaux). Christopher Powell Metcalf's name is included on this web site, as the Collingham and District Parish magazine in December 1914 listed him alongside the men of the village who were serving.
Christopher was the fifth of seven children of Joseph Metcalf. His eldest brother, John Prideaux Metcalf (1864-1957) followed his father and became a priest. Christopher's other siblings were Lucretia Elizabeth Eamonson Metcalf (1866-1931), Agnes Rose Althamiah Metcalf (1870-1961), Humphrey Gostwyck Metcalf (1871-1944), Cecilia Margaret Metcalf (1878-1967) and Lucy Eleanor Metcalf (1880-1949). Rose Metcalf, Christopher's mother died aged just 46 in 1886 when Christopher was only 13 years old and it seems certain they were brought up by the older family members and Joseph with a number of servants living with the family. For many years Joseph was vicar of Bilbrough and all the children were born in Bilbrough. Humphrey also became a priest having studied at the University of Cambridge. Interestingly all three sons married, but all four of the daughters remained spinsters throughout their lives. Whereas Humphrey and John entered the priesthood, Christopher became a career sailor in the Royal Navy, leaving home as soon as he was 15 years old. The Metcalf family formed a very strong link with Collingham with the spinster daughters living in Church Lane for many years from around 1900 until around 1961.
Christopher was not the only family member awarded medals for World War 1. His brother, the Revd Humphrey Metcalf was awarded The British War Medal for service from the 30th Jan 1917 in France with the YMCA.
Christopher Metcalf joined the Navy on the 7th July 1888 when he would have been 15 years old, initially at HMS Britannia. He then served with HMS Duke of Wellington and HMS Agincourt, until on the 15th January 1889, he became a Midshipman on Agincourt. He left Agincourt on the 20th May 1889 and served next on HMS Iron Duke from 21st May to 10th December 1889, again as Midshipman. His Naval service as a Midshipman continued on HMS Temeraire (19th December 1889 - 19th June 1891), HMS Vivid (20th June 1889-3rd July 1891) and HMS Aurora (4th July 1891-28th April 1892). After a spell on HMS Calypso (29th April 1892-13th Jan 1893) Christopher was at Vernon, Excellent and Victory where he became an Acting Sub-Lieutentant.
Christopher's career moved on as a Sub-Lieutentant on HMS Rodney from 30th May 1894 to 4th August 1895, and then as Lieutenant on HMS Howe 5th Aug 1895-23rd Dec 1896, HMS Dreadnought (26th Jan 1897-1st Feb 1897), Collingwood (1st Feb 1897 - 1st June 1897) and HMS Phaeton (1st June 1897-1st Oct 1900). It was during this time that, on the 29th July 1897, Christopher married Annie Duddell Minza on the 29th July 1897 at St.Andrew's Church Portsmouth. The couple went on to have two children.
Christopher next served on HMS Sans Pareil, Fawn and from 14th October 1901 to 9th March 1903 was at Portsmouth.
Christopher Powell Metcalf took his first command, of HMS Kinsha on the 10th March 1903, before taking over command of HMS Kusha on the 25th June 1903. Christopher was in command of HMS Widgeon from the 1st November 1904 until the 13th March 1905. During that time he was awarded the Shadwell Prize and he took Widgeon on a successful passage from Ichang to the Upper Yangtse was noted in his favour. There was also satisfaction expressed at the receipt of dispatch from Consul General, praising him for the manner in which he carried out duties as SMO of Upper Yangtse.
By the 29th August 1905, Christopher was in Chatham and he was promoted to Commander on the 31st December 1905. In 1907, the ship he was commanding was involved in an accident where the ship's propellers were damaged and the Admiralty 'expressed displeasure and warned Christopher to be more careful in future'. His service record is long and in some places difficult to read, but we can make out service on HMS Blenheim, Ariadne, Argonaut, Edgar and President. Finally, on the 6th April 1911, Christopher was placed on the retired list at his own request, probably expecting a long, relaxing retirement after a long, successful naval service. Of course the Great War shattered any such expectations.
On the 6th September 1914, he was placed in command of HMS Wear, and he found himself in the battles near Gallipoli. He had a temporary period in charge of HMS Minerva before returning to HMS Wear and being employed on beach duties in the Dardanelles around 25th July 1915. On the 16th August 1915, Christopher Powell Metcalf was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO). The citation reads: "Captain Christopher Powell Metcalfe, R.N. On the 18th March, after HMS Irresistible struck a mine, Captain Metcalfe took HMS Wear alongside her, and rescued nearly the whole of her crew under a very heavy fire, which caused several casualties - a very fine display of seamanship."
On the 13th September 1915, he was on HMS Europa, and was appointed assistant beachmaster of Mudros by the Vice-Admiral.
The only record we have found of illness or injury was a sprained knee suffered around this time, and he was admitted on the 30th November 1915 to the Military Hospital in Alexandria, but by the 3rd December he was back at duty. He was then with HMS Europa on special duties in Egypt.
On the 2nd February 1916, when he would have been aged 43, Christopher arrived back in England. On the 11th August 1916 he was appointed Assistant DNE and salvage work until the 13th April 1918. Christopher saw out the rest of his service with HMS Arlanza before reverting to the retired list on the 1st January 1919.
Christopher Powell Metcalf appears on the electoral roll for 1 Beach Bank, Waterloo, Liverpool in 1934 and 1935 and he died on the 30th September 1935, aged 62 and is buried at Blundellsands, Liverpool.
Biography last updated 20 July 2020 15:12:45.
The Collingham Parish Magazine Dec 1914 & Feb 1915
Admiralty Officers' Service Records (ADM196/43). The National Archives.
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