A blockbuster film, peppered with the stars of stage and screen, concerning the life and exploits of Noel Geoffrey Chavasse is not likely to appear any time soon! First, he was a practicing and devout Christian, secondly he had firm views about sexual promiscuity and a clear understanding on family life.
Thirdly, his Dad was an Anglican bishop and finally although he was an Oxford Blue and an outstanding sportsman of his generation, nevertheless regarded it as a past time and made not a penny from it. He also never appeared on stage, recorded a song, or claimed to be an actor. He was devout, true and honourable.
So then, clearly not the sort of role model that the 21st century is after!!!
The story of Noel Chavasse has been recorded by many eminent military historians. He was a doctor and served with the highest of distinction in the First World War.
He was awarded the Victoria Cross twice (the highest decoration that can be awarded for bravery in the face of the enemy by the Crown), was awarded the Military Cross and Mentioned in Dispatches.
Chavasse made his mark through his outstanding moral as well as physical courage with his determination to look after the men both in and out of the trenches.
In December 1915 the Adjutant’s Regimental Diary records that “The Doctor’s “Soldiers’ Home” is beginning to be appreciated by the men. Tea is served nightly from 8-9pm, the home’s library is increasing daily.”
On the 18th April 1916 it records that “The Doctor always had an eye to improving any quarters we happened to be in; he would improvise a bathroom by placing cow-tubs in some broken down shed and … he would fix up a stove in order to provide hot cocoa for the sick.” And further we read that, “Another excellent institution started by Captain Chavasse in 1916, himself putting up the money, was a dry canteen.” (Booze free zone!)
The role model that Noel Chavasse took to follow was Jesus, not a pop star, actor or actress, media guru, or a here today and gone tomorrow sports personality of celeb status. Loved by God, as surely they all may be, they are not likely to illicit the courage and sacrifice that was the code by which Noel Chavasse both lived and died.
We would do well as Christian people to share his story more widely – who knows it may well inspire us all. It has for me over many years.