Letters and Papers re Aidan Chavasse 1917-20

Letters and papers regarding Aidan Chavasse, 1914-1920

Introduction

These letters include correspondence relating the the Chavasse family's search for Aidan Chavasse, who was reported missing on 4 Jul 1917. There was some hope that he had been taken prisoner, but his name never appeared on any lists of prisoners of war. By February 1918 he was officially assumed to be dead.

The letters are presented in the order assigned to them by Bodleian Special Collections - some may be out of chronological order. Questions, corrections and enquiries about the use of images should be directed to archives@spc.ox.ac.uk.

Letter from Francis James Chavasse to Aidan Chavasse                      14 May 1914

Francis James Chavasse feels that he is busier than he has ever been. He was at Convocation last week for the speech on tthe Living Wage. He was accused of being a Protectionist, to which he replied that he was trying to protect poorer people. He currently has two guests in addition to 6 deacons preparing for their ordination examinations. He asks how Aidan’s study is going. When he took his own exams, he read less as his exams approached. He suggests that Aidan take a short break, which he will pay for. Sent from The Palace, 19 Abercromby Square, Liverpool.

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Letter from Francis James Chavasse to Aidan Chavasse                         8 Jul 1917

Francis James Chavasse describes his activities over the past week. He details his experience of a German air raid, which he thinks involved about 40 aeroplanes. He understands that they were heading towards London and were eventually fought off, though other German planes flying from the direction of Kent were able to get through. He reports that a family friend, [Mr.?] Farthing, is likely to die soon. They currently have a distant Australian family member staying with them - Allan Lindsay Chavasse [1887-1941] – who contracted French fever while serving with the Australian Contingency.  Sent from Wormley Rectory, Broxbourne, Hertfordshire. [The letter is labelled ‘My last letter to Aidan’.]

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Telegram from the Secretary of the War Office to Francis James Chavasse

8 Jul 1917

The telegram states that Aidan Chavasse has been wounded, and that further information will be sent when received.

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Telegram from the Secretary of the War Office to Francis James Chavasse

8 Jul 1917

The telegram states that Aidan Chavasse, formally reported wounded, is now reported wounded and missing. Further information will be sent when received.

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Letter from Captain Arnold J Draper to Francis James Chavasse            7 Jul 1917

Captain Draper, Company Commander of Aidan Chavasse, provides information about Aidan, whom he believes has been captured by the Germans. Draper had selected Aidan to join a party going out to no-mans-land at night. It was light enough for the party to be seen, and the Germans were able to outflank them. Aidan was shot in the leg and was unable to return with the rest of the party. Draper sent men to carry Aidan back, but an Officer named Peters was killed in the process and it was deemed too dangerous to try again. Francis Bernard Chavasse went out to find his brother over the next two nights, but was unable to find him.

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Letter from Robert Balmain Mowat to Francis James Chavasse              16 Jul 1917

Mowat [(1883-1941), Aidan Chavasse’s Tutor in Modern History at Corpus Christi] offers his sympathies and notes that it can take several weeks before prisoners are reported. Sent from Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

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Letter from the Earl of Lucan to Francis James Chavasse                         8 Aug 1917

George Bingham, 5th Earl of Lucan (1860-1949) reproduces a report about the wounding and disappearance of Aidan Chavasse given by Acting Corporal T.W. Miller of the 17th Liverpools, confirmed by Private L.C. Belsten. The Earl hopes that Aidan is a prisoner of war, and will forward any other information they receive. Sent from The British Red Cross and Order of St. John, Enquiry Department for Wounded and Missing, 18 Carlton House Terrace, S.W.1.

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Clipping from the Liverpool Daily Post re: attempts to rescue Aidan Chavasse        22 Aug 1917

The article provides an account of the wounding and disappearance of Aidan Chavasse. It corrects an earlier report stating that Noel Chavasse, rather than Francis Bernard Chavasse, went to look for Aidan.

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Letter from The British Red Cross to May Chavasse[?]                       22 Aug 1917

The letter reproduces a report by Lance Corporal W. Dixon giving an account of the wounding and disappearance of Aidan Chavasse. It is Lance Corporal Dixon’s opinion that Aidan Chavasse was taken prisoner. Sent from The British Red Cross and Order of St. John, Enquiry Department for Wounded and Missing, Hotel Christol, Boulogne-sur-Mer.

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Letter from The Spanish Ambassador to Francis James Chavasse          22 Aug 1917

The Spanish Ambassador promises to personally enquire about the status of Aidan Chavasse. He has written to the Private Secretary of the King of Spain on the matter. Sent from Embajada de Espana, 1 Grosvenor Gardens, London, W.

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Letter from the Spanish Ambassador to Francis James Chavasse             7 Sep 1917

The Spanish Ambassador has enclosed a reply from the Private Secretary of the King of Spain concerning his enquiry about Aidan Chavasse. [The enclosed letter is below]. Sent from Embajada de Espana, 1 Grosvenor Gardens, London, W.

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Letter from the Duke of Miranda to Francis James Chavasse                  28 Aug 1917

The Duke of Miranda [Luis María de Silva y Carvajal (1876 - 1935)] states that although the Spanish Embassy in Berlin does not normally deal with enquiries concerning British citizens, the King of Spain has asked his ambassador there to find out what he can about Aidan Chavasse. Sent from the Royal Palace.

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Letter from the Comite International de la Croix-Rouge to Francis James Chavasse 1 Oct 1917

The letter states that Aidan Chavasse’s name does not appear on any existing German lists of prisoners of war. Sent from Comite International de la Croix-Rouge, Agence Internationale des Prisonniers de Guerre, Geneva.

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Letter from Robert Copp Fowler to Francis James Chavasse                12 Feb 1918

Fowler reports that there has been no further information about Aidan Chavasse. He asks if Francis James Chavasse has heard any news of Aidan that they may not be aware of. The Army Council will soon consider whether to officially conclude that Aidan is dead. Sent from The War Office, London, S.W.

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Letter from D.D. [?] to Francis James Chavasse                                   22 Feb 1918

The letter states that the Army Council have concluded that Aidan Chavasse died on or since 4 Jul 1917, as no further information about him has been received. Sent from The War Office, London, S.W.

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Letter from Adelaide Livingstone to Francis James Chavasse                 7 Jun 1920

Adelaide Livingstone (c.1881–1970) reports that the War Office Mission for Tracing British Soldiers has recently visited Zillebeke, the site of Aidan Chavasse’s disappearance. Unfortunately they have been unable to gather any information about him. The area is so devastated that the search for bodies is slow and in many cases unlikely to be successful. Sent from 29, Avenue de Cortenberg, Brussels.

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Typescript summary of the enquiries concerning the status of Aidan Chavasse         Not dated

The summary includes transcriptions of the letters from Captain Arnold J. Draper and The British Red Cross. It also include a transcription of the account printed in the Liverpool Daily Post of 22 Aug 1917.

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