Dr Noel Godfrey Chavasse VC & Bar, MC (1884 - 1917)

 

Identical twins, Noel and Christopher, were born on the 9th of November 1884 in Oxford, a year after their sister Dorothea. There followed non-identical twins Marjorie and Mary, and brothers Bernard and finally Aidan. When their father became Bishop of Liverpool, the family moved from Oxford to 19 Abercromby Square. 

After gaining his first degree in Oxford, Noel graduated from the University of Liverpool's School of Medicine in 1913 and took up a surgical appointment at the Royal Southern Hospital in the city. He was elected a member of the Liverpool Medical Institution. He and his brothers all served during WWI.  Aidan, the youngest, a lieutenant in the 17th (1st Liverpool Pals) Battalion of the King's Regiment, was killed near Ypres on the 4th of January 1917. 

May Chavasse

May Chavasse

Captain Noel Chavasse was awarded his first VC in 1916 when as a surgeon-lieutenant he rescued wounded men from no-man's land under heavy fire, just 25 yards from enemy lines. He saved the lives of more than 20 men. Noel Chavasse died, aged 32, on the 4th of August 1917 just one month after his younger brother. Noel was awarded a second VC posthumously, having continued to rescue and treat men during the conflict at Weiltje, Belgium, though mortally wounded himself. He was buried at Brandhoek New Military Cemetery in Belgium.

The only solider to be awarded Britain's highest military honour, the Victoria Cross (VC) twice during WWI, as well at the Military Cross, Captain Noel Chavasse, Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) was attached to the 10th (Liverpool Scottish) Battalion of the King's Liverpool Regiment.  

One of the sisters, Mary (known as May) served in France as 'Lady Helper' in the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD). She worked as a ward maid with Liverpool Merchants' Mobile Hospital at Etaples in France.

Captain Chavasse

The 10th Liverpool Scottish later became a Territorial Unit, 208 Field Hospital (Volunteers). It holds an extensive Noel Chavasse archive including his sword and last known letter sent  from the Front just prior to his death. Both the sword and letter were on display at the LMI Then and Now exhibition.

Abercromby Square is now home to the Liverpool Heroes Memorial, which commemorates Captain Noel Chavasse VC and Bar MC, and 15 other Liverpool born Victoria Cross recipients. Designed by a local sculptor, Tom Murphy, the bronze statue depicts Captain Chavasse and a Liverpool Scottish stretcher bearer attending a wounded soldier.  208 Field Hospital are based at Chavasse House in Childwall. 

Mrs Mayers and the Lord Lieutenant admiring the sword of Capt.  Chavasse

Prototype cast for the Liverpool Heroes Memorial on display at LMI

Presentation of a Thomas Splint to the Institution by 208 Field Hospital