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City’s honour to double VC winner will be set in stone
A PAVING stone marking the achievements of an Oxford doctor who was the only person in the First World War to win the Victoria Cross twice will be laid in about two years’ time.
The memorial to Captain Noel Chavasse, who was born in Oxford and attended Magdalen College School, will be laid at an unconfirmed location on the anniversary of his first honour.
As part of the centenary commemorations of the Great War, the Government is creating paving stones to remember those who received VCs during the conflict.
Capt Chavasse’s stone will be laid on August 9, 2016 – 100 years since he was awarded his first VC.
Mary Chavasse, of Hayward Road, Oxford, whose late husband John was the nephew of Captain Chavasse, said: “Obviously we didn’t know him but he was my husband’s father’s brother.
“We are immensely proud – it’s a fantastic story.”
Mrs Chavasse’s husband John, who died in 2012 aged 87, set the crosswords in The Oxford Times for many years.
After graduating from Oxford University with a first in medicine, Capt Chavasse joined the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1913.
He received his first VC for his actions on August 9, 1916, at the Battle of Guillemont, France, for repeatedly venturing into no man’s land under heavy fire to rescue wounded soldiers.
Capt Chavasse was injured during the battle but by 1917 was back at the frontline.
The Blue Plaque installed in his honour at Magdalen College School in 2005
At the Third Battle of Ypres, despite being seriously injured, he defied orders to withdraw and worked with a captured German medic to save lives. He was killed when a shell hit his base. He was then posthumously awarded the VC.
The Government is creating the paving stones and then handing them over to local councils – in this case Oxford City Council – to be installed.
City council spokesman Chofamba Sithole said: “Capt Chavasse’s war record is deeply impressive, being one of only three people to be awarded the Victoria Cross twice. The council is exploring options as to where the paving stone might be laid. We are discussing with other interested parties.”
Capt Chavasse was born on November 9, 1884, in New Inn Hall Street, 20 minutes before his twin brother Christopher, who became the Bishop of Rochester and founded St Peter’s College in Oxford.
Their father, the Rev Francis Chavasse, was Rector of St Peter-le-Bailey, now the chapel of St Peter’s College, and later became the first Bishop of Liverpool.
Capt Chavasse attended Trinity College, Oxford, in 1904 and went on to represent Great Britain in the 400m in the 1908 London Olympics with his brother.
He had six siblings including twin sisters who became Britain’s oldest twins when they turned 100 in 1986.
Capt Chavasse was remembered in a set of stamps marking the 150th anniversary of the Victoria Cross in 2006.
He is believed to be commemorated by more war memorials in the UK than any other individual, with the UK National Inventory of War Memorials listing 16 in his honour.
A total of 469 stones will be laid across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland while 145 will be laid in the National Memorial Arboretum to commemorate those born overseas.
The first paving stones were laid over the weekend in West Sussex, London, Dublin and Aberdeenshire.
Company Sergeant Major Edward Brooks, who served in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, also won the Victoria Cross during the First World War by capturing a German machine gun at Fayet in France on April 28, 1917, and turning it on the enemy.
But while he is buried in Rose Hill, CSM Brooks was born in Oakley, Buckinghamshire, so his paving stone will be laid there.
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