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Hero of the Somme!
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THE ROAD TO WAR -
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Hero of the Somme!
 
One of the Heroes of the day was Royal Army Medical Corps Doctor (RAMC), Captain Noel Chavasse, attached to the 10th Kings of the Liverpool and Scottish
When the second attack for the battle of Guillemont on 9th August 1916 took place, Chavasse was in the British trenches forward of Trones Wood. It became severely congested with troops which could not get off to a good start, as not all the battalions were placed and ready for zero hour.
(Left) Image of Noel Chavasse
During the night the British artillery was too hurried and failed to break the wire, once the troops had been commanded to begin the attack there was confusion all around, despite the British moving forward they were soon cut down by German machine-gun fire. Casualties lay all around the area of attack, officers and men all wounded and desperate for help.
Taking extremely courageous risks Chavasse crawled out into “no man’s land” during the night, accompanied by an orderly to find his fellow soldiers who were badly wounded, for he knew their agony lying in shell holes bleeding to death and crying for help which could be heard many hundreds of yards away. He found it his duty as a doctor and soldier to assist those who he could.
This would be an act of true courage.
Both men crawled around whistling softly hoping for a reply, soon finding a wounded soldier lying in agony and bleeding badly with his arm hanging off, the orderly inserted a stick in the soldiers mouth and told him to bite hard, it helped to drown the poor man’s sob’s and screams as Chavasse cut the hanging arm off with a pair of scissors and sewed up the stump …he had no anesthetic for the wounded man. Both he and the orderly scrambled about on their bellies across no man’s land dragging the wounded man back to the British lines, it took them two long tiring two hours to do so.
They then both returned again and again during the night and other nights helping those who he could, spending over 24 hours saving his comrades.
These extreme acts of bravery had saved the lives of 20 men…He would be awarded the Greatest Honour “For Valour”…The Victoria Cross.
His story would continue as he was ordered to go to Passchendaele in preparation for the “Third Battle of Ypres”, Belgium in July 1917, again to try an attempt and recapture the Passchendaele Ridge.
This would be the biggest offensive ever seen in wartime, but the losses would eventually become horrific and unimaginable.
The Germans used mustard gas on the British troops and they were poorly protected from it without enough masks for all the men…they lost 2 officers and 141 men.

(Left) British soldiers expecting a gas attack!

British soldiers blinded and lungs destroyed by gas attacks
 
On 31st July the first day of the new offensive, Chavasse followed along with the infantry, the battle commenced as the British moved forward ready to engage the enemy, it was dry and fairly good day, making progress and driving through into German held land, capturing some German support trenches
In the evening he set up a dressing station in a German dugout which the enemy had abandoned, there he was wounded in the skull, he was bandaged around the head and despite this painful wound he endured he would not allow himself to stop his assisting the other serious casualties that had been severely wounded. Chavasse very fatigued and with very little food to sustain him carried on bravely, he was asked to leave the front line and return behind the lines to base hospital, he refused to be evacuated but admirably decided to stay with his men at the front.
He continued to go out into “no man’s land” and find the wounded he could hear pleading for help.
The rain soon came to this area and it became an inglorious quagmire of a muddy swamp, all the craters were being filled by the rain, still while wounded soldiers lay in them shouting and crying for help.
Chavasse, regardless of the worsening weather conditions and his badly wounded head and under constant enemy fire continued to roam about “no man’s land” looking for and finding the wounded, bandaging them up and bringing them back to the safety of the British lines, all this despite the rain, mud, complete fatigue and lack of food.
He succeeded most…Heroically!
While resting in his dugout and Aid Post on the evening of 2nd August, writing to his parents in England about Gladys his beloved girlfriend whom he was now engaged to, he wrote explaining that she gave him the reason to get through the war, and the thought of seeing her again kept him going.
Tragedy then struck for this incredibly brave man, a German shell scored a direct hit blowing the Aid Station apart, seriously wounding him and others and killing many more.
He had no help for himself or the wounded as all had been incapacitated and killed by the shell burst, there was no help near-by either, so he, despite having six wounds from the blast, and still suffering severely from his head wound crawled over half a mile through the rain and mud to get help.
He was taken from Ypres to the 46th Field Ambulance Aid Post at Brandhoek, and at once examined there by an American doctor, Dr J.A.C. Colston.
The Doctor then sent him to the 32nd Casualty Clearing Station also in Brandhoek, he was unrecognizable as his face was blackened and burnt by the shell burst, he was immediately operated on for serious chest, abdomen and other wounds he had were dressed and bandaged.
(It was now found out that he had in fact a fractured skull, of which he probably realized he certainly had being a Doctor)
The nurse attending him heard his last words before he expired …”That duty has called me, and my duty is to obey”…!!!
He died the next day in the afternoon about 14.00pm, on 4th August, 1917.
 
Captain Noel Chavasse, an Unbelievable Courageous Hero of “The Great War” would receive the Greatest Honour his country could bestow, he would posthumously be awarded “For Valour” another Victoria Cross…The only man to ever receive two of these very prestigious awards.
His family received 700 letters of condolence and a special letter from the King.
Noel Chavasse was 32 years old when he died…He has over 12 memorials to honour his name…More than any other Somme V.C. holder, and more than probably any V.C. holder or soldier in the world to this date 2016…!
 
”His Life Was Given as a Greater Sacrifice to His Fellow Man”…!!!
   
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