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Family of most decorated British First World War officer visit Colchester centre named in his memory

PUBLISHED: 11:55 15 September 2017 | UPDATED: 11:55 15 September 2017

Camilla Kinton and Julia Hatfield, great-nieces of Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse, visit the Help for Heroes recovery centre in Colchester named after him. Picture: HELP FOR HEROES

Camilla Kinton and Julia Hatfield, great-nieces of Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse, visit the Help for Heroes recovery centre in Colchester named after him. Picture: HELP FOR HEROES

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Descendants of a soldier twice awarded the Victoria Cross have visited the Essex military personnel recovery centre named after him.

Camilla Kinton and Julia Hatfield, great-nieces of Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse, visit the Help for Heroes recovery centre in Colchester named after him. Picture: HELP FOR HEROESCamilla Kinton and Julia Hatfield, great-nieces of Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse, visit the Help for Heroes recovery centre in Colchester named after him. Picture: HELP FOR HEROES

Last month marked the 100th anniversary of the death of Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse VC and Bar MC and this week his great nieces visited Colchester’s Help for Heroes recovery centre to pay tribute to his memory.

Together, Camilla Kinton and Julia Hatfield saw how the centre has developed since they first visited five years ago.

Camilla said: “This is the best possible memorial to Noel Chavasse as he cared about the whole person; not just the physical but the emotional side too.

“The Help for Heroes Recovery Centre does just that here; it cares for the whole person. It’s nice to be able to keep the name of Noel Chavasse alive and I feel that he very much would have approved of the recovery centre.

“Our great-uncle cared for ‘his boys’ and it’s possible that if he had lived then he might have opened up his own house to let his comrades recover after the war. It was quite unusual for a man of his time to be concerned for the wellbeing of his soldiers.”

She added: “Even when Noel carried out those acts which saw him awarded the Victoria Cross he didn’t feel like he was being brave. It was just the way he was; he just wanted to help his men.”

The sisters spent time talking to people recovering at the centre and hearing how it helped them. They also heard how Noel improved the wellbeing of his comrades in the trenches by setting up recreational areas with a gramophone and books.

The Olympic athlete and British Army officer died on August 4, 1917, at Passchendaele. He was aged 32.

Captain Chavasse received serious head injuries during the battle, but continued to venture into No Man’s Land and tend to the wounded.

Captain Chavasse saved the lives of an estimated 20 seriously wounded men while under heavy gunfire. A few days later his trench was hit by a shell – mortally wounded, the Captain crawled half a mile to seek help for others. He was eventually evacuated but died of his wounds two days later.

Noel Chavasse was the most highly decorated British officer of the First World War.

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