Captain Noel Godfrey CHAVASSE (1884–1917)
V.C. and Bar
Magdalen College School, Cowley Place, Oxford
Noel Chavasse was born with his twin Christopher at 36 (now 38) New Inn Hall Street in 1884. Their father was the Rector of St Peter-le-Bailey (now the chapel of St Peter’s College). In 1889 he became Principal of Wycliffe Hall and Bishop of Liverpool in 1900. The boys were educated at home until they entered Magdalen College School in 1897. When their father went to Liverpool he insisted that they accompany him and they transferred to Liverpool College. Noel went up to Trinity College, Oxford in 1904 and graduated with a First in Medicine. He was a fine athlete and represented Great Britain at the Olympics of 1908.
In 1913 he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and was attached to the 10th King’s Battalion of the Liverpool Regiment. At the outbreak of war in 1914 he went to France and was promoted to the rank of Captain in 1916. He tried to improve the living conditions of men in the trenches and was critical of the conduct of the war. He received his first VC at the Battle of Guillemont for repeatedly venturing into No Man’s Land under heavy fire to rescue the wounded, although he himself was injured. By 1917 he was back at the Front. At the 3rd Battle of Ypres, despite a serious head injury, he worked desperately with a captured German medic to save as many lives as possible. Although suffering further wounds, he defied orders to withdraw and received fatal injuries when a shell hit the post. He died in hospital two days later. He was posthumously awarded a second VC, the only man to win the medal twice in the course of the Great War and only one of three ever to do so.
His twin, Christopher Chavasse, gained the MC in the Great War. He became the first Master of St Peter’s College and later Bishop of Rochester.
- Sources: Anne Clayton, Chavasse, Double VC; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
- Pictures: Magdalen College School and Unveiling ceremony
The plaque was unveiled at Magdalen College School, Cowley Place, Oxford on 30 September 2005 by Belinda and Peter Chavasse, Noel’s great-niece and great-nephew.
Above: The only part of Magdalen College School that survives from Chavasse's day, with his blue plaque visible to the left of the entrance.
In the foreground of the photograph is the special paving stone (right) for men who won the Victoria Cross in the First World War.
Because he won two Victoria Crosses, Chavasse has been honoured with two of these paving stones in Oxford: his other stone is in New Inn Hall Street outside St Peter's College. Each shows two VC emblems at the top
Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board
Royal Army Medical Corps
V.C. and BAR
was born in Oxford and
attended this school
Magdalen College School