Centenary commemoration for Captain Noel Chavasse, double VC – Part Six. The ceremony.

The service and the ceremony to commemorate the centenary of Noel’s death was held on 4 August at the Chapel of Brandhoek, and afterwards at Noel’s grave in the cemetery nearby. It was beautifully arranged by the Friends of the Flanders Field Museum, the City of Ypres and the Belgian authorities. The British Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium paid tribute to Noel and laid one of the many wreaths.

The Quinney corner was well represented. My mother Diana and stepmother Gel, my sisters Rosanagh with Dominic and Emily with Justin – and their little ones, Johnny and Tabby  – and our children Georgie, Sophie, Amelia and Tom all made the trip. We all stayed at the same hotel in Ypres, which is a great base from which to explore the history all around. Before the service we each planted a small cross on Noel’s grave.

It was, of course, a great pleasure to meet cousins on the Chavasse side. (Do take a look a look at the Epilogue post for the background.) The grandchildren and great grandchildren of Noel’s twin brother Christopher, including his grandson Peter Chavasse, were there, as well as the grandson of Bernard, Nick Chavasse, who gave a moving speech about Noel in the chapel. (I’m standing between them in a picture below, taken during the drinks afterwards at the chapel.) Our cousins through aunt Gwen were also there – Caro, Will and Vivian. I’m sure we’ll all keep in touch.

Some of the photos are courtesy of Nick Mol, a photographer who I chatted to after the event. There was a much larger gathering at the Chapel for the service, before we moved to the cemetery for the rather more intimate laying of the wreaths.

My simple task was to give the exhortation, just after the last post in front of Noel’s grave.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, not the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”


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