Major General John Francis Metcalfe CB CBE
1959 - 1965
Major General Metcalfe was the first Colonel of The Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment, formed by the amalgamation of The Queen’s Royal Regiment and The East Surrey Regiment on 14th October 1959. He was ideally suited for the appointment, for within his time he had commanded regular battalions in both Regiments. Educated at Radley College and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, Major General Metcalfe was gazetted to The Queen’s Royal Regiment in 1928. He later served in Malta, North China and India, and at the Depot at Guildford. Soon after the outbreak of war in 1939 he attended the Staff College at Quetta where he was so successful that he was retained on the Directing Staff.
In September 1943 he joined 1st Bn The Queen’s as second-in-command. After active service in the Arakan he was promoted and posted to command the 2nd Battalion, who were preparing for action in Burma.
The 2nd Battalion, were selected for service as Chindits, part of General Wingate’s special force of long range penetration troops. It was a feat of endurance to march the battalion into the Burmese jungle. He commanded 21 Column of the Chindits. On the 5th March 1944 he was severely wounded in the right hand, resulting in him being flown out to India in April with other battle casualties. In August 1949 he was transferred from The Queen’s Royal Regiment to command the 1st Battalion, The East Surrey Regiment, which he joined in Greece.
In August 1951 he left the battalion on promotion to Brigadier on the General Staff of Western Command. He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1954 and he commanded the 2nd Federation Infantry Brigade in Malaya from 1955-1957, being Mentioned in Despatches. From 1958 to 1961 he was Director of Personnel Administration at the War Office in the rank of Major General.
He was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1960. His last appointment on the active list was General Officer Commanding, Aldershot District, a post which he held until his retirement in 1963. He was Chairman of the Regimental Amalgamation Committee at the time of the amalgamation. After six successful years in the Colonelcy of the new Regiment, he retired in 1965.
Major General Metcalfe was an outstanding officer of the Regiment. He would never tolerate inefficiency in any form but generous praise was readily forthcoming for a task well done. It was much to his credit that the marriage of the Surrey Infantry regiments was such a happy one. He died in 1975 aged sixty-six years.