Liverpool Pembroke & Sefton are a club with a long and distinguished history, we are rightly proud of our many outstanding athletes over the last 128 years, so I won’t let today pass without recording one of our most illustrious members.
The 4th August 2017 marks the 100 year anniversary of the death of Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse V.C and Bar and Military Cross at the age of 32. Noel was an outstanding sportsman playing rugby and taking part in athletics. Along with his twin brother Christopher they both competed in the 400m at the 1908 London Olympics however today I think we should remember not his sporting prowess but this man’s very special bravery.
Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse V.C and Bar and Military Cross. Royal Amy Medical Corps attached to the Liverpool Scottish, 51 Highland Volunteers. Died of wounds 4 August 1917
Chavasse was first awarded the VC for his actions on 9 August 1916, at Guillemont, France when he attended to the wounded all day under heavy fire. The full citation was published on 24 October 1916 and read:
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.
Chavasse’s second award was made during the period 31 July to 2 August 1917, at Wieltje, Belgium; the full citation was published on 14 September 1917 and read:
War Office, September, 1917.
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.
I must acknowledge Ronnie Williams (a former Sefton Harriers) for much of the above brief summary of Noel’s action during WW1
Noel Chavasse’s medals will be on display at the Museum of Liverpool Life until January 2018
Thanks to Eddie Bairstow for photos below