Noel Chavasse letters, Nov 1916 - Dec 1916

Correspondence of Captain Noel Chavasse VC and Bar MC, Nov 1916 - Dec 1916

Introduction

These letters were sent by Noel Chavasse to his family from the beginning of November 1916 to the end of December 1916.

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 Francis James and Edith Chavasse          15 Nov 1916

Noel writes to his mother and father to say he has been rather swamped with letters, hence his not writing for a while. He is also getting used to a change in circumstances, brought on by his recent ‘row’ with the Field Ambulances [see letter of 7 Sep 1916]. He has been removed from the line to serve in a nearby Field Ambulance, where he feels there is little he can do. He feels guilty about being in a place that is so comfortable when his men are suffering and being killed, and believes that only men who are older or with families should serve in Field Ambulances. He feels useless, but asks that his parents not worry about him.

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Letter from Noel Chavasse to Francis James and Edith Chavasse           28 Nov 1916

Noel writes to his mother and father to tell them that he is still with the Field Ambulance, where he expects to be for at least another couple of weeks. The place is perfectly comfortable, but he feels useless, misses his men, and is aware that he is surrounded by officers who think his report was simply self-serving. Last Sunday he took part in a service run by the Field Ambulance, and was asked to speak after one of the men let slip that Noel was an old Grafton Street boy. He thinks the service was enjoyed by all, and another is already being planned, although worries where all this will end.

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Letter from Noel Chavasse to Dorothea Chavasse                     12 Dec 1916

Noel writes to his sister to say that he is sending her a lace handkerchief as a Christmas present. Jokes that she must not let her husband steal it, or let the nurse take it for the new baby. Hopes that she is doing well and says that he is looking to be back on leave in January. Explains that the handkerchief is of Cluny Lace, which comes from a convent near the guns, which he has heard can be heard in Norfolk. 

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Letter from Noel Chavasse to Francis James and Edith Chavasse          18 Dec 1916

Noel writes to his mother and father to wish them a happy Christmas and New Year. He is re-joining his battalion tomorrow, of which he is glad, although he has enjoyed his time at the Field Hospital and felt in the end that he was able to make himself useful. Mentions his various relationships in the mess, and the help that he received in particular from [Rev J O] Coop [the Division Chaplain]. Confides in his father that an invitation will be sent to him asking him to come to France to speak, and explains the logistics of his visit, should he choose to come.

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Letter from Noel Chavasse to Francis James and Edith Chavasse          19 Dec 1916

Noel writes to his mother and father to let them know that he has been moved again back to Army HQ, where he must take a course on sanitation. He received no notice that he was to attend, and when he arrived it transpired that the lectures were for new arrivals. He is nevertheless in a comfortable billet, and they are also looking after his batman well, to whom he has spoken about the temptations of the nearby town. He will be back with his battalion for Christmas, which will be his third in Belgium. Mentions that he feels it will also be his last, and wonders where he and his wife [to be] will spend it. Jokes about what will happen when Christopher is also married. Says that people are feeling positive about the war and feel that the Germans are getting demoralised to the extent that they will soon accept terms. Hopes to be home in January, but doesn't know when. Wishes them a merry Christmas and looks forward to the time when they will all be back together again.

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