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Captain Noel Chavasse, V.C. & Bar, M.C., Royal Army Medical Corps

August 4, 2019


Remembering the Fallen:  on this day in 1917, Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse, V.C. & Bar, M.C., Royal Army Medical Corps, died of wounds received at Passchendaele two days earlier.

One of seven children of an Anglican bishop, he was educated at Magdalen College School in Oxford, Liverpool College, and Trinity College, Oxford, where he was a member of the Oxford University Officers’ Training Corps.  After qualifying as a physician (and being a member of the 1908 Olympics team), he was commissioned into the Royal Army Medical Corps (Territorial Force), in June of 1913, and attached to 10th King’s as Medical Officer.  At the outbreak of the Great War he immediately volunteered for service overseas and was on the front lines by the end of November.

In 1915 he was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry during the attack at Hooge and was Mentioned in Despatches.  The following year, on the Somme, his actions caused him to be awarded the Victoria Cross, the citation for which reads:  “For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty.  During an attack he tended the wounded in the open all day, under heavy fire, frequently in view of the enemy. During the ensuing night he searched for wounded on the ground in front of the enemy's lines for four hours.  Next day he took one stretcher-bearer to the advanced trenches, and under heavy shell fire carried an urgent case for 500 yards into safety, being wounded in the side by a shell splinter during the journey. The same night he took up a party of twenty volunteers, rescued three wounded men from a shell hole twenty-five yards from the enemy's trench, buried the bodies of two officers, and collected many identity discs, although fired on by bombs and machine guns.  Altogether he saved the lives of some twenty badly wounded men, besides the ordinary cases which passed through his hands. His courage and self-sacrifice, were beyond praise.”

Just days before his death in 1917, Captain Chavasse’s actions led to the posthumous award of a Bar to his Victoria Cross.  He was severely wounded while carrying a soldier to a dressing station, but he refused medical assistance for himself and for two days continued to attend to the wounded under enemy fire - near exhaustion and without food, he carried several wounded men to safety over what was described as heavy and difficult ground.  On the 2nd of August he was again severely wounded when a shell exploded in his dugout.  Despite surgery to removed shell fragments, he could not be saved and died in the afternoon of the 4th of August.   He was buried the next day in Brandhoek New Military Cemetery, near Ypres. 

Noel, from Oxford, was 32 years old and engaged to be married.




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December 11, 2018