Heroe’s Portraits: Captain Noel Chavasse

Capt. Noel Chevasse

Cpt. Noel Chevasse is one of the three men who have earned the Victoria Cross twice. He was a doctor and earned both awards during the First World War.
He won the first VC during the battle of the Somme when his battalion was ordered to attack the village of Guillemont. His battalion, (10th Battalion, Liverpool Regiment) suffered almost 300 casualties out of 600 men and he spent the entire day and night of the attack constantly moving inot no-man’s-land to tend to and recover the wounded while at the same time recovering identity disks from the dead who he could not bring back to friendly lines. His citation read:

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 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 trusty 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.

He earned his second VC during the Battle of Passchendaele or 3rd Ypres where he was in charge of an aid station very close to the front. He treated wounded men throughout the 31st of July despite being wounded. He was initially wounded when a shell exploded in the dugout where he was working. Later that night he was again severely wounded by another shell, this time he was evacuated to a casualty clearing station and eventually a field hospital where a severe abdominal wound was worked on. He died from his wounds on August 5th, 1917. He was subsequently awarded a second VC with the citation reading:

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 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 an number of badly wounded men over heavy and difficult ground. By his extraordinary energy and inspiring example 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.

Some further references:

Noel Chevasse Website
An excellent mini biography of CPT Chevasse by Ian Jones can be found here.