Noel Godfrey Chavasse (09/11/1884 – 04/08/1917) was first awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on 9 August 1916, at Guillemont, France when he attended to the wounded all day under heavy fire.
Reproduction Gallaher cigarette card.
The Citation, Recorded in the London Gazette, issue 29802, page 10394, 24 October 1916 reads:
“Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse, M.C., M.B., Royal Army Medical Corps.
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.”
He was awarded the Bar to his Victoria Cross for his actions from 31 July to 2 August 1917, at Wieltje, Belgium.
The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette, issue 30284, page 9531, 14 September 1917 reads:
“His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of a Bar to the Victoria Cross to Capt. Noel Godfrey Chavasse, V.C., M.C., late R.A.M.C., attd. L’pool R.
For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty when in action.
Though severely wounded early in the action whilst carrying a wounded soldier to the Dressing Station, Capt. Chavasse refused to leave his post, and for two days not only continued to perform his duties, but in addition went out repeatedly under heavy fire to search for and attend to the wounded who were lying out.
During these searches, although practically without food during this period, worn with fatigue and faint with his wound, he assisted to carry in a number of badly wounded men, over heavy and difficult ground.
By his extraordinary energy and inspiring example, he was instrumental in rescuing many wounded who would have otherwise undoubtedly succumbed under the bad weather conditions.
This devoted and gallant officer subsequently died of his wounds.”
Captain Noel Chavasse died of his wounds in Brandhoek and is buried at Brandhoek New Military Cemetery, Vlamertinge, Belgium.
He is the only man to be awarded the Victoria Cross and Bar in the First World War.
In Liverpool, at Abercromby Square, there is a a statue called “Liverpool Heroes” that features Noel Chavasse as its main focus.
He is also commemorated with a bust in Liverpool Cathedral. His father, Francis Chavasse was very instrumental in the building of the Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool. The Roll of Honour is also opened on the entry for his name.
Liverpool also has a Chavasse Park in the Liverpool One shopping complex. It is not easy to find a name board unless you know where to look. I was fortunate that I found somebody that was able to assist me in finding the board.
There is a commemorative plaque to him at the National Memorial Arboretum.
© DRW 2017-2018. Created 23/04/2017. Grave image courtesy of Mark Green. Cigarette card reproduction by Card Promotions © 2003. Added Liverpool references 07/06/2018.