Today marks the centenary of the death of Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse (1884–1917), a doctor in the Royal Army Medical Corps and one of only three people to have been awarded a Victoria Cross twice (the other two were Arthur Martin-Leake, also a doctor in the RAMC, and New Zealander Charles Upham, an infantryman).
At the Battle of Guillemont in 1916, Chavasse was hit by shell splinters while rescuing men in no-man’s land. Chavasse displayed similar bravery in the opening offensive at Passchendaele in August 1917 for which he gained a second VC. Chavasse died of his wounds on 4 August 1917.
Born in Oxford on 9 November 1884, Chavasse trained in medicine in Oxford and Liverpool. At Liverpool Chavasse studied under eminent teachers such as Sir Robert Jones, who later became a leading authority in orthopaedic surgery. In 1913, Chavasse was accepted by the RAMC and was attached to the 10th Kings Territorial battalion as Surgeon-Lieutenant. As an officer in a Territorial unit, Chavasse attend to both civilian and military duties.
During the First World War, captain Chavasse was attached to the 1/10th (Scottish) Battalion of the King’s (Liverpool Regiment) and was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry at Hooge, Belgium, in June 1915.
Chavasse’s remains are buried at Brandhoek New Military Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, Belgium.
The Museum of Military Medicine has a small display of memorabilia associated with Chavasse on permanent display. His VC and bar is on display at the Imperial War Museum.