Images and information courtesy of Wendy Sadler

image from 1917 Suffolk Chronicle & Mercury newspaper.


Born: 18th May 1898, Cromer, Norfolk.

Died: 9th July 1917; age 19; Killed by internal explosion of vessel at Scapa Flow.

HMS Vanguard a St. Vincent class Dreadnought Battleship, part of the grand fleet saw action during the Battle of Jutland in May 1916 seeing most of her service in the North Sea during WW1.
9th July 1917 HMS Vanguard was anchored in Scapa Flow north of Scotland and suffered a series of explosions in her magazines shortly before midnight, rapidly sinking with the loss of 843 men of the complement of 845 crew.

Residence: 50, Rendlesham Road, Ipswich.

Employed: at Messrs. Jackson Bros., Ipswich.


Rank: Private; Service Number: CH/20588; H.M.S. ‘Vanguard’.

Regiment: Royal Marine Light Infantry

Enlistment details: 5′ 7″, had dark brown hair, grey eyes and a dark complexion. A tattoo of an anchor on his left forearm. His trade when he left school was a butcher, before he enlisted.


Memorial Reference:

Chatham Naval Memorial,




Relatives Notified & Address: Son of James Burrell Metcalf & Esther Robertson Metcalf, of 50, Rendlesham Road, Ipswich.




1901   West Street, Cromer, Norfolk.


Henry was 2 years old and living with his parents & siblings.

James Burrell Metcalf, a Grocer’s Shopkeeper, born King’s Lynn, Norfolk.

Ester Robertson Metcalf (nee Fielding), 35, born Hindringham, Suffolk.

Thomas James Metcalf, 12, born King’s Lynn.

Leonard Fielding Metcalf, 9, born King’s Lynn.

Cyril George Metcalf, 8, born King’s Lynn.

Muriel Bessie Metcalf, 6, born Cromer.


1911   54, Rendlesham Road, Ipswich.


Henry was 12 years old and living with his parents & siblings.

James, 51, a Grocer’s Assistant.

Esther, 45.

Leonard, 19, a Fishmonger’s Assistant.

Muriel, 16, a Domestic Servant.


A note from Joanne Mckeon  : My great grandma was Annie May Allen and she died 1970 for some reason she kept a tiny newspaper cutting of Harry Metcalf.








H.M.S. ‘Vanguard’.

Ipswich men lost on the Vanguard:

Arthur Palmer Athroll
Able Seaman
Age 21

John William Warne
Petty Officer
age 36

William Henry Warne
Boy 1st Class
age 17

Family note:

Henry Metcalf was my Great Uncle – my Grandmother’s younger brother

We have visited Scapa Flow twice on the anniversaries of the sinking of HMS Vanguard and hope to be going to the Centenary commemorations this year.

I would love to hear from anyone that knows any more about my Great Uncle who was fondly known as ‘Kif’ by all his relations.


Centenary commemorations

It was attended by 40 descendants of the Vanguard crew, along with the civil diving team that carried out exclusive surveying of the wreckage, as well as taking some amazing photos and videos.
We were also supported by local historians who have done an amazing job tracing many descendants as well as helping to organise the event along side the Royal Navy, RNLI, the Navy Chaplain, Orkney Council and some crew members of the current HMS Submarine that carries the Vanguard name, who provided an outstanding honorary guard the whole weekend.
The service included a laying of personal wreaths at the Vanguard Buoy in Scapa Flow, then a visit to the War Cemetery on Hoy island.
It finished with an emotional night time service in St Magnus Cathedral at exactly the same time the explosion occurred on the Battleship -11:20pm.  A 2 minute silence was observed, and then the descendants were given the opportunity to view the Book of Commemoration and the Ensign flag that has been attached to the Vanguard, underwater, since 2009.



  • My great grandma was Annie may Allen and she died 1970 for some reason she kept a tiny newspaper cutting of harry metcalf.

    • Dear Joanne,

      Thank you for your lovely message on Henry Metcalf’s profile page of our web-site. It is such a wonderful thing to share with us. Your Gt. Grandmother Annie must have really loved, and valued his friendship to have kept the newspaper memento forever.

      We have tried to reply using your e-mail address left in the comment box – but have no luck and our e-mail is returned. Please may we ask if you could contact us – ipswichwarmemorial@gmail.com

      Thank you and kind regards

      Helen and Andrew

  • Hi Joanne.
    I am very interested in your message. Please could you recontact Ipswich War Memorial as we are having problems in replying to your email address given.
    Best wishes, Wendy


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