ROAD TO WAR -
|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
These extreme acts of bravery had saved the lives of 20 men…He
would be awarded the Greatest Honour “For Valour”…The
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
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
(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
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,
|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”…!!!