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Oxford Inscriptions: First paving stone to Noel Chavasse, VC


Chavasse paving stone

[Image of two
Victoria Crosses]

CAPTAIN
NOEL CHAVASSE
ROYAL ARMY MEDICAL CORPS
9TH AUGUST 1916 AND
31ST JULY - 2ND AUGUST 1917

This Victoria Cross paving stone to Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse VC was unveiled outside St Peter's College, Oxford, near where he was born, on 9 August 2016.

Chavasse was the only man in the First World War to win two Victoria Crosses: hence he is also the only man to have two special paving stones in the city of his birth, each of which depicts two Victoria Crosses at the top. Similarly his war grave also depicts two images.

His other paving stone in Oxford is installed outside Magdalen College School, where he was educated

Noel Godfrey Chavasse was born at the present 38 New Inn Hall Street, Oxford on 9 November 1884 when his father was the Rector of St Peter-le-Bailey Church (now the Chapel of St Peter's College). He attended Magdalen College School in Oxford from 1897 to 1900, and then his father was appointed Bishop of Liverpool, and Noel transferred to Liverpool College. In 1904 he went up to Trinity College, Oxford, graduating with a First in Natural Science in 1908. He then read medicine at Liverpool and qualified as a Doctor of Medicine in 1912.

Tom Chavasse and Lord LieutenantAbove: Tom Chavasse, Noel's nephew, and Tim Stevenson, Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire,
at the unveiling ceremony outside St Peter's College on 9 August 2016

Chavasse served in the Royal Army Medical Corps, attached to the 1st/10th Battalion of the King's (Liverpool) Regiment. He won his first Victoria Cross on 9 August 1916 at Guillemont on the Somme when he attended to the wounded all day under heavy fire, frequently in view of the enemy, and rescued three men the next day, altogether saving the lives of at least twenty men.

Then on 2 August 1917 at Brandhoek he won a bar to his Victoria Cross for repeatedly crossing no man’s land in search of wounded men, even though he was seriously wounded himself. Two days after this second brave feat, he died from the wounds he sustained: CWGC entry.

In 1923 his father Francis Chavasse returned to Oxford, where and was the guiding spirit in establishing St Peter’s Hall, which opened a year after his death in 1929 and is now St Peter’s College. Noel's twin brother Christopher Maude Chavasse was appointed the first Master of St Peter’s Hall, and in 1940 became Bishop of Rochester.


Chavasse's wooden cross

Media reports on the unveiling:

Wikipedia entry for Noel Chavasse

 

Right: The wooden cross that stood on Chavasse's grave at Brandhoek is now in St Peter's College Chapel (which was formerly St Peter-le-Bailey Church). The inscription carved on the wood at the top reads:

LIVERPOOL & SCOTTISH

CAPT. N. G. CHAVASSE V.C. M.c.

KILLED IN ACTION

4 / 8 / 17

Attached to the cross is the symbol of his regiment: the red rose of Lancashire is in the centre, and the text around it reads:

THEY WIN OR DIE
WHO WEAR THE ROSE OF LANCASTER.

The text on the brass plaque underneath the cross reads:

THE GRAVE CROSS OF CAPTAIN NOEL CHAVASSE VC AND BAR, MC
(9 NOV 1884– 4 AUG 1917
)

CAPTAIN CHAVASSE WAS THE ONLY MAN TO WIN THE VICTORIA CROSS TWICE DURING WORLD WAR I, ON BOTH OCCASIONS FOR HIS BRAVERY IN TENDING TO THE WOUNDED AS A REGIMENTAL DOCTOR. HE WAS THE TWIN BROTHER OF CHRISTOPHER CHAVASSE, THE FOUNDING MASTER OF ST PETER'S COLLEGE (1929–1939). THE CASES EITHER SIDE OF THE CROSS CONTAIN ORIGINALS AND COPIES OF THE VARIOUS DECORATIONS WON BY NOEL AND HIS SIBLINGS IN MILITARY AND CIVILIAN LIFE. THEY WERE UNVEILED BY THE REVD JAMES JONES, FORMER BISHOP OF LIVERPOOL (1998–2013), AND MEMBERS OF THE CHAVASSE FAMILY ON 30 NOV 2016. THE INSTALLATION WAS MADE POSSIBLE BY A GENEROUS BENEFACTION BY LORD HODGSON OF ASTLEY ABBOTTS

Stephanie Jenkins, 2013