Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse is one of only three people ever to have won the Victoria Cross twice, and the only person to be awarded both the Victoria Cross and bar during World War 1.
Chavasse won his first VC for his actions at the battle of Guillemont, part of the Battle of the Somme, on 9 August 1916. Chavasse came within 25 metres of the German line, where he rescued three wounded men. He continued to search no-man’s land for injured soldiers before the enemy line for four hours, amidst a storm of sniper bullets and bombing. He buried the bodies of two officers, collected many identity discs, and in total saved the lives of twenty badly wounded men.
Chavasse won his second award in Belgium between 31 July and 2 August 1917 for ‘most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty in action’. Though desperately wounded while carrying another man, Chavasse insisted on remaining in action for a further two days. Faint from his injury and without food he continued to search for and retrieve the wounded even under heavy fire, and was crucial in saving the lives of many more who would otherwise have succumbed in the field.
Noel subsequently died of his injuries, and is buried at Brandhoek New Military Cemetery, Vlamertinge.
Noel, who was born the younger of identical twins, gained a first class degree at Trinity College, Oxford, where he stayed on to study medicine. He and his twin Christopher both represented Great Britain in the 1908 Olympic Games. He passed his examination for the Royal College of Surgeons in 1910, and joined the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1913.