Noel Chavasse letters, Nov 1915 - Dec 1915

Correspondence of Captain Noel Chavasse VC and Bar MC, Nov 1915 - Dec 1915

Introduction

These letters were sent by Noel Chavasse to his family from the beginning of November 1915 to the end of December 1915.

The letters are presented in the order assigned to them by the Imperial War Museum - 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 Noel Chavasse to Marjorie Chavasse                                 13 Nov 1915

Noel writes to his sister to say that he is now behind the line in France. Aidan is about three miles away and he hopes to go see him. Mentions the violin has been a great success. Asks if two letters he sent have been found. If not, he will write again. Sent from Liverpool Scottish, Head Quarters, B[ritish] E[xpeditionary] F[orce]

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Letter from Noel Chavasse to Francis James and Edith Chavasse            16 Nov 1915

Noel writes to his mother and father to say that his battalion is still resting away from the line. Reports that the men are well and he has few sick to look after, but the mud has returned. Describes his recent work, including the treatment of a little girl with diphtheria, of whom he became quite fond. The men are enjoying the entertainment that is provided. Mentions that Aidan [Chavasse] is resting close by but he has not managed to see him as yet. Everyone expects to move back to the line at any moment. Mentions that he took part in a rugby match against men from the artillery, which his team won 17-0. One of the artillery officers gave him a photo, which he encloses, of the cricket match they played in spring [see letter of 23 May]. Mentions his father's photo in the Daily Post of 6 Nov. Describes his desire to help the many lame children in the village in which he is staying. Mentions that [Revd] Goddard has been appointed to the brigade and that the men and other officers like him. Asks for some good sermons to read on Sundays. Sent from Liverpool Scottish, Head Quarters, B[ritish] E[xpeditionary] F[orce]

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Letter from Noel Chavasse to Francis James and Edith Chavasse              4 Dec 1915

Noel writes to his mother and father to apologise for not writing for so long. Has returned to the trenches after a two day march in freezing conditions, which he describes. He is well, however, and the clothes he ordered in Liverpool are serving their purpose. Mentions how he found himself reoccupying one of his old dressing stations upon arrival at the trenches. The doctor he is sharing it with knew [Captain] Arthur [Twentyman] well and they are distantly related, so they get on well together. Describes his routine and the proximity of the German lines, with which some men have been reprimanded for fraternising. Mentions that men in the trenches wear waders since the mud is almost waist high. Each trench has a special dugout with a brazier, where the men can change their socks and clean their boots. Mentions he also keeps a fire going in his dressing station on which he boils cocoa, which is so popular that men from other battalions drop by to warm themselves. Describes the two casualties suffered so far, including one fatality. They are going up the line tomorrow. Sent from Head Quarters, Liverpool Scottish, B[ritish] E[xpeditionary] F[orce]

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Letter from Noel Chavasse to Marjorie Chavasse                                   4 Dec 1915

Noel writes to his sister to say that he is enclosing a cheque for the two stoves. Mentions that he is now resting after a period of seven days in the trenches, which were very bad for the feet, although cases of trench foot have been rare. The records have not yet arrived, but he expects them at any time, while the new gramophone is a great success. Sent from Liverpool Scottish, Head Quarters, B[ritish] E[xpeditionary] F[orce]

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Letter from Noel Chavasse to Francis James Chavasse                          16 Dec 1915

Noel writes to his father in response to questions raised about clergymen as private soldiers, in which he stresses it is better for them to become Chaplains, rather than to enlist, since this allows them to become officers and thus enables them to care better for the men. Describes a series of examples in which this is the case and how Chaplains play an important leadership role. Sent from Head Quarters, Liverpool Scottish, B[ritish] E[xpeditionary] F[orce]

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Letter from Noel Chavasse to Dorothy [Chavasse] and [George] Foster[-Carter]  17 Dec 1915

Noel writes to his sister and brother-in-law to thank them for the gifts he has just received. Mentions that the weather was very bad in the trenches and the cigarettes they sent have already been shared out with the men. He is battling against trench foot, and although he has so far not lost a man to this, there are some who have chill blains, to whom he has given the socks. Describes how he is using the candles they sent to light a recreation room in the rest camp, where he has also put the magazines, which the men read eagerly. The books are also proving popular and all the gifts have helped enormously during this difficult period. Mentions that he plans to save the sweets and chocolates for Christmas Day, when they will be on duty. Also thanks them both for the sermons they sent, which could not have been better. Sent from Head Quarters, Liverpool Scottish, B[ritish] E[xpeditionary] F[orce]

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Letter from Noel Chavasse to Francis James and Edith Chavasse          26 Dec 1915

Noel writes to his mother and father to say that he is currently in reserve. The men are comfortable, with half being in billets in a village and half in dug outs about an hour and half's walk away. He enjoys walking between the two, although the starkness of winter is revealing again the damage done by the war. Describes the weather and talks about Christmas Day, during which the fighting stopped. Bemoans the fact that the battalion padre has gone on leave, but believes he is not missed. There have fortunately been no casualties and no cases of trench foot. Describes the system in place to keep the men's feet warm and dry. Every fourth man now also has a primus stove, which helps a great deal. Talks of the dinner he enjoyed on Christmas Day and of the men's mood, which seemed a bit low as the mail did not arrive. Mentions how he distributed cigarettes and sweets to the men with their dry socks as Christmas stockings. Head Quarters, Liverpool Scottish, B[ritish] E[xpeditionary] F[orce]

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