Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse, VC and Bar, MC, RAMC. (1884-1917)
“Courage is the Quality Which Guarantees All Others“
Noel Chavasse the most decorated serviceman in British Military history once wore the colours of Sefton Harriers and competed along with his twin brother Christopher in the 1908 London Olympics. As a young doctor living and working in the South end of Liverpool prior to the outbreak of war, Noel was also an active athlete excelling in both athletics and rugby. Sefton Harriers based at the Florence Institute in Mill Street was the natural local club for the young Noel.
One page within a large athletics web site will not suffice, I hope to point visitors in the direction of much more detailed account of this ephemeral and very inspiring life.
I have included the only known photograph of Noel running.
Below are the citations in relation to his two VC
On 9 August 1916, at Guillemont France Captain Chavasse attended to the wounded all day under heavy fire, frequently in view of the enemy, and during the night he continued searching for wounded in front of the enemy’s lines. Next day, under heavy shell fire he and a stretcher bearer carried an urgent case 500 yards to safety, being wounded himself during the journey. The same night, with 20 volunteers, he rescued three wounded men from a shell-hole 36 yards from enemy trenches, buried the bodies of two officers and collected many identity discs. Altogether he saved the lives of some 20 wounded men.
BAR: During the period 31 July to 2 August 1917, at Wieltje, Belgium, Captain Chavasse although severely wounded early in the action while carrying a wounded officer to the dressing station, refused to leave his post and in addition to his normal duties, went out repeatedly under heavy fire to attend the wounded. During this time, although practically without food, worn with fatigue and faint from his wound, he helped to carry in badly wounded men, being instrumental in saving many who would otherwise have died under the bad weather conditions. Captain Chavasse subsequently died of his wounds. BAR Gazette: 14 September 1917.
The Chavasse twins who can be seen competing together in the Varsity Sports 100 yards in 1907. In this race, N.G.Chavasse (Trinity) (furthest right) and K.G.Macleod (Pembroke, Cambridge) (second from right) dead heated in a time of 10.5s. At the same Sports, C.M.Chavasse (Trinity) won the 440 yards in 50.6s
This picture and the one of the brothers supplied by Laurence Chandy
An article in the Liverpool Football Echo, dated January 8th 1916 mentions Noel and his connection with Sefton Harriers
There is a pipe piece of music entitled ‘Captain Noel Chavasse VC’ written by Pipe Sgt Glyn Pritchard of The Liverpool Scottish for the occasion of the unveiling of the Chavasse memorial at Forbes House in 1979.
Further reading and detail are in the excellent book by Ann Clayton Chavasse – Double VC
Noel is buried at Brandhoek New Military Cemetery,, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. The grave reference is panel number III. B. 15.