News from 1928 Retirement of Capt Metcalfe


Mark Baber

Staff member
MAB Notes: 1. I have tracked down the contemporary news reports of Capt.
Metcalfe's participation in the rescue of the crew of the Mallory Line's
Denver in 1915; details will appear here next March. I have not, however,
found any confirmation of this article's reference to Metcalfe's being
honored by Congress for that rescue. 2. Metcalfe may have been related to
the Ismay family; there are several online genealogies which refer to
marriages between Ismays and Metcalfes, both of Maryport, in the 1850's. I
will advise if I track down any additional information on either of these

The New York Times, 20 October 1928

Metcalfe Was Hero of Many Exploits in 32 Years With the White War Line
He Holds Congressional Medal and Foreign Decorations for Bravery and

Captain George R. Metcalfe, R. N. R., of the White Star liner Majestic and
commodore of the fleet, who has been on sick leave for six weeks, has
retired from active service, according to a cable dispatch from Liverpool
yesterday. Because of his long and meritorious services with the company for
thirty-two years he will remain on full pay until be reaches the age limit,
60, at the end of 1930.

Captain Metcalfe succeeded Captain Sir Bertram Hayes in the command of the
Majestic after he had been in charge of the Olympic, Homeric, Cedric,
Canopic, Cretic, Megantic and other vessels of the White Star Line since
1909. He received the Congressional Medal for saving the lives of the crew
of the Mallory Line steamship Denver in 1915 and two medals by the British
Admiralty for sinking submarines in the Mediterranean.

Ambassador Page went from London to Liverpool to convey a letter from the
President of the United States praising him for his skill and courage in
saving the lives of the crew and passengers on the Denver. The Royal Humane
Society awarded him a medal the same year for swimming four miles off the
Lancashire coast to save the lives of sixteen persons drifting out to sea in
a boat without sails or oars. He has many other American, British, French,
Italian and Belgian decorations.

He was considered one of the ablest shipmasters in the North Atlantic and
commanded a three skysail yarder around the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn
before starting in the White Star Line.

He was the first staff commander in the White Star Line with Captain Haddock
on the Olympic and tried to save the British battleship Audacious at Lough
Swilly in 1914 when she was mined.

He is succeeded by Captain William Marshall, C. B., Commodore R. N. R.