Tomorrow, is our First World War Family History Day at the Museum of Liverpool, and you may know that we have been blogging all week about WWI soldiers from the city. Today, we’re featuring Captain Noel Chavasse, who was the only soldier in WWI to receive the honour of the Victoria Cross twice.
The son of the Bishop of Liverpool, Noel was twice awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) and was the most highly decorated British serviceman in the First World War.
Dr Noel Chavasse was a medical doctor, who left behind his work at the call of King and Country in the autumn of 1914. Although he was an officer in the Royal Army Medical Corps, he was attached to the Liverpool Scottish – joining as second Medial Officer – and threw his whole heart and soul into the duty of caring for the men in his unit.
He was promoted to the rank of Captain, and awarded his first VC at Guillemont in 1916, for conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty. During an attack, he attended the wounded in the open for two days under heavy fire, frequently in view of the enemy. Altogether he saved the lives of some twenty badly wounded men.
He was awarded the VC again at Passchendaele. Though severely wounded early in the action whilst carrying a wounded soldier to the dressing station he 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 wounded who were lying out. During these searches, though 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 in August 1917.
A Liverpool bombardier, who was with him all day on July the 31st, wrote:
“Gee! He did work! I was beginning to think he was not human, because nothing made him flinch or duck. The first wound that he received was in the head, and all he did was to take his tin hat off, jammed there, put a bandage around his head, and carry on. This he did all day and all night until the next wound he got, in the side, did for him. By Jove, it didn’t half cut up the boys, because a man like that is not made to be killed. He is a hero of heroes. A V.C. is too small a reward for such a man.”
He is commemorated on the war memorial in :
Liverpool College Junior School, Queens Drive, Sefton Park
Unidentified Memorial (now in Slaughterhouse Pub 13 Fenwick St)
Liverpool Cricket & Rugby Clubs, now in Liverpool Cricket Club, Aigburth Rd
Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, War memorial transept
Liverpool University, Victoria Hall, Brownlow Hill
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