Edith Cavell

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Edith Cavell
Edith Cavell.jpg
Edith Cavell
Born4 December 1865
Swardeston, Norfolk, England
Died12 October 1915(1915-10-12) (aged 49)
Tir national (National Shooting Range), Schaerbeek, Brussels, Belgium
Venerated in Church of England
Feast 12 October (Anglican memorial day)

Edith Louisa Cavell ( /ˈkævəl/ ; 4 December 1865 – 12 October 1915) was a British nurse. She is celebrated for saving the lives of soldiers from both sides without discrimination and in helping some 200 Triple Entente soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium during the First World War, for which she was arrested. She was accused of treason, found guilty by a court-martial and sentenced to death. Despite international pressure for mercy, she was shot by a German firing squad. Her execution received worldwide condemnation and extensive press coverage.

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the resulting 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

Treason Crime against ones sovereign or nation

In law, treason is criminal disloyalty to the state. It is a crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's nation or sovereign. This usually includes things such as participating in a war against one's native country, attempting to overthrow its government, spying on its military, its diplomats, or its secret services for a hostile and foreign power, or attempting to kill its head of state. A person who commits treason is known in law as a traitor.

A court-martial or court martial is a military court or a trial conducted in such a court. A court-martial is empowered to determine the guilt of members of the armed forces subject to military law, and, if the defendant is found guilty, to decide upon punishment. In addition, courts-martial may be used to try prisoners of war for war crimes. The Geneva Convention requires that POWs who are on trial for war crimes be subject to the same procedures as would be the holding military's own forces. Finally, courts-martial can be convened for other purposes, such as dealing with violations of martial law, and can involve civilian defendants.


The night before her execution, she said, "Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone." These words were later inscribed on a memorial to her near Trafalgar Square. Her strong Anglican beliefs propelled her to help all those who needed it, both German and Allied soldiers. She was quoted as saying, "I can’t stop while there are lives to be saved." [1] The Church of England commemorates her in its Calendar of Saints on 12 October.

Trafalgar Square Public space and tourist attraction in central London

Trafalgar Square is a public square in the City of Westminster, Central London, built around the area formerly known as Charing Cross. Its name commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar, a British naval victory in the Napoleonic Wars over France and Spain that took place on 21 October 1805 off the coast of Cape Trafalgar.

Anglicanism The practices, liturgy and identity of the Church of England

Anglicanism is a Western Christian tradition which has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England following the English Reformation.

Church of England Anglican state church of England

The Church of England is the established church of England. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the most senior cleric, although the monarch is the supreme governor. The Church of England is also the mother church of the international Anglican Communion. It traces its history to the Christian church recorded as existing in the Roman province of Britain by the third century, and to the 6th-century Gregorian mission to Kent led by Augustine of Canterbury.

Cavell, who was 49 at the time of her execution, was already notable as a pioneer of modern nursing in Belgium.

Early life and career

Cavell in a garden in Brussels with her two dogs before the outbreak of war Nurse Edith Cavell 1865-1915 Q32930.jpg
Cavell in a garden in Brussels with her two dogs before the outbreak of war
Cavell (seated centre) with a group of multinational student nurses whom she trained in Brussels Nurse Edith Cavell 1865-1915; Brussels Q70204.jpg
Cavell (seated centre) with a group of multinational student nurses whom she trained in Brussels

Cavell was born on 4 December 1865 [2] in Swardeston, a village near Norwich, where her father was vicar for 45 years. [3] She was the eldest of the four children of the Reverend Frederick Cavell (1824–1910) and his wife Louisa Sophia Warming (1835–1918). Edith's siblings were; Florence Mary (b. 1867), Mary Lilian (b. 1870) and John Frederick S. (1872–1923). [2]

Swardeston village in Norfolk, Britain

Swardeston is a village four miles (6 km) south of Norwich in Norfolk, England, on high ground above the Tas valley. It covers an area of 3.95 km2 (1.53 sq mi) and had a population of 540 in 246 households at the 2001 census, the population increasing at the 2011 census to 619.

Norwich City and non-metropolitan district in England

Norwich is a city in Norfolk, England. Granted historic city status, and situated on the River Wensum in East Anglia, it lies approximately 100 miles (160 km) north-east of London. It is the county town of Norfolk and is considered the capital of East Anglia, with a population of 141,300. From the Middle Ages until the Industrial Revolution, Norwich was the largest city in England after London, and one of the most important.

She was educated at Norwich High School for Girls, then boarding schools in Clevedon, Somerset and Peterborough (Laurel Court). [4]

Norwich High School for Girls

Norwich High School for Girls is an independent day school for girls aged 3 to 18 in Norwich, England. The school was founded in 1875 by the Girls’ Public Day School Company, which aimed to establish schools for girls of all classes by providing a high standard of academic, moral and religious education. The school is a member of the Girls’ Schools Association and the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference. The school reports itself to have one of the best academic results in East Anglia.

Clevedon town and civil parish in North Somerset, England

Clevedon is an English town and civil parish in the unitary authority of North Somerset, which covers part of the ceremonial county of Somerset. It recorded a population of 21,281 in the United Kingdom Census 2011. It lies among a group of small hills, including Church Hill, Wain's Hill, Dial Hill, Strawberry Hill, Castle Hill, Hangstone Hill and Court Hill, a Site of Special Scientific Interest along the Severn estuary. It features in the Domesday Book of 1086. Clevedon grew in the Victorian period as a seaside resort and in the 20th century as a dormitory town.

Peterborough City and unitary authority in England

Peterborough is a cathedral city in Cambridgeshire, England, with a population of 196,640 in 2015. Historically part of Northamptonshire, it is 75 miles (121 km) north of London, on the River Nene which flows into the North Sea 30 miles (48 km) to the north-east. The railway station is an important stop on the East Coast Main Line between London and Edinburgh. The city is also 70 miles (110 km) east of Birmingham, 38 miles (61 km) east of Leicester, 81 miles (130 km) south of Kingston upon Hull and 65 miles (105 km) west of Norwich.

After a period as a governess, including for a family in Brussels from 1890 to 1895, she returned home to care for her father during a serious illness. The experience led her to become a nurse after her father's recovery. [5] In April 1896, at the age of 30, Cavell applied to become a nurse probationer at the London Hospital [4] under Matron Eva Luckes. She worked in various hospitals in England, including Shoreditch Infirmary [6] (since renamed St Leonard's Hospital). As a private travelling nurse treating patients in their homes, Cavell travelled to tend patients with cancer, gout, pneumonia, pleurisy, eye issues and appendicitis. [5]

Brussels Capital region of Belgium

Brussels, officially the Brussels-Capital Region, is a region of Belgium comprising 19 municipalities, including the City of Brussels, which is the capital of Belgium. The Brussels-Capital Region is located in the central portion of the country and is a part of both the French Community of Belgium and the Flemish Community, but is separate from the Flemish Region and the Walloon Region. Brussels is the most densely populated and the richest region in Belgium in terms of GDP per capita. It covers 161 km2 (62 sq mi), a relatively small area compared to the two other regions, and has a population of 1.2 million. The metropolitan area of Brussels counts over 2.1 million people, which makes it the largest in Belgium. It is also part of a large conurbation extending towards Ghent, Antwerp, Leuven and Walloon Brabant, home to over 5 million people.

Royal London Hospital Hospital in London

The Royal London Hospital is a large teaching hospital in Whitechapel, London. It is part of Barts Health NHS Trust. The Royal London provides district general hospital services for the City and Tower Hamlets and specialist tertiary care services for patients from across London and elsewhere. There are 845 beds, 110 wards and 26 operating theatres at the Royal London Hospital. The new building opened in February 2012.

Eva Luckes British nurse

Eva Charlotte Ellis Luckes was Matron of The London Hospital from 1880 to 1919.

In 1907, Cavell was recruited by Dr Antoine Depage to be matron of a newly established nursing school, L'École Belge d'Infirmières Diplômées (or the Berkendael Medical Institute) on the Rue de la Culture (now Rue Franz Merjay), in Ixelles, Brussels. [1] By 1910, "Miss Cavell 'felt that the profession of nursing had gained sufficient foothold in Belgium to warrant the publishing of a professional journal' and, therefore, launched the nursing journal, L'infirmière". [1] Within a year, she was training nurses for three hospitals, twenty-four schools, and thirteen kindergartens in Belgium.

Antoine Depage Belgian physician

Dr. Antoine Depage, was the Belgian royal surgeon, the founder and president of the Belgian Red Cross, and one of the founders of Scouting in Belgium.

Matron is the job title of a very senior or the chief nurse in several countries, including the United Kingdom, its former colonies, such as India, and also the Republic of Ireland. The chief nurse, in other words the person in charge of nursing in a hospital and the head of the nursing staff, is also known as the Senior Nursing Officer, matron, nursing officer, or clinical nurse manager in UK English; the head nurse or director of nursing in US English, and the nursing superintendent or matron in Indian English, among other countries in the Commonwealth of Nations.

Ixelles Municipality in Belgium

Ixelles is one of the nineteen municipalities of the Brussels-Capital Region of Belgium.

When the First World War broke out, she was visiting her widowed mother in Norfolk. She returned to Brussels, where her clinic and nursing school were taken over by the Red Cross.

Return to Brussels

Cavell had been offered a position as matron in a Brussels clinic. She worked closely with Dr Depage who was part of a "growing body of people" in the medical profession in Belgium. He realised that the care that was being provided by the religious institutions had not been keeping up with medical advances. In 1910 Cavell was asked if she would be the matron for the new secular hospital at St Gilles. [7]

First World War and execution

In November 1914, after the German occupation of Brussels, Cavell began sheltering British soldiers and funnelling them out of occupied Belgium to the neutral Netherlands. Wounded British and French soldiers as well as Belgian and French civilians of military age were hidden from the Germans and provided with false papers by Prince Réginald de Croÿ at his château of Bellignies near Mons. From there, they were conducted by various guides to the houses of Cavell, Louis Séverin, and others in Brussels, where their hosts would furnish them with money to reach the Dutch frontier, and provide them with guides obtained through Philippe Baucq. [8] This placed Cavell in violation of German military law. [3] [9] German authorities became increasingly suspicious of the nurse's actions, which were further fuelled by her outspokenness. [3]

She was arrested on 3 August 1915 and charged with harbouring Allied soldiers. She had been betrayed by Gaston Quien, who was later convicted by a French court as a collaborator. [10] [11] She was held in Saint-Gilles prison for ten weeks, the last two of which were spent in solitary confinement. [3] She made three depositions to the German police (on 8, 18 and 22 August), admitting that she had been instrumental in conveying about 60 British and 15 French soldiers, as well as about 100 French and Belgian civilians of military age, to the frontier and had sheltered most of them in her house. [8]

In her court-martial she was prosecuted for aiding British and French soldiers, in addition to young Belgian men, to cross the Dutch border and eventually enter Britain. She admitted her guilt when she signed a statement the day before the trial. Cavell declared that the soldiers she had helped escape thanked her in writing when they arrived safely in Britain. This admission confirmed that Cavell had helped the soldiers navigate the Dutch frontier, but it also established that she helped them escape to a country at war with Germany. [12] Her fellow defendants included Prince Reginald's sister, Princess Marie of Croÿ.

The penalty, according to German military law, was death. Paragraph 58 of the German Military Code determined that "at time of war, anyone who with the intention of aiding a hostile power, or of causing harm to the German or allied troops" commits any of the crimes defined in paragraph 90 of the German Penal Code "shall be punished with death for war treason". Specifically, Cavell was charged under paragraph 90 (1) no. 3 Reichsstrafgesetzbuch, for "conveying troops to the enemy", a crime normally punishable by life imprisonment in peacetime. [12] It was possible to charge Cavell with war treason as paragraph 160 of the German Military Code extended application of paragraph 58 to foreigners "present in the zone of war".

A propaganda stamp issued shortly after Cavell's death C. 1916 Edith Cavell propaganda stamp.JPG
A propaganda stamp issued shortly after Cavell's death

While the First Geneva Convention ordinarily guaranteed protection of medical personnel, that protection was forfeit if used as cover for any belligerent action. This forfeiture is expressed in article 7 of the 1906 version of the Convention, which was the version in force at the time, [13] and justified prosecution on the basis of German law.

The British government could do nothing to help her. Sir Horace Rowland of the Foreign Office said, "I am afraid that it is likely to go hard with Miss Cavell; I am afraid we are powerless." [14] Lord Robert Cecil, Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, advised that, "Any representation by us will do her more harm than good." [14] The United States, however, had not yet joined the war and was in a position to apply diplomatic pressure. Hugh S. Gibson, First Secretary of the U.S. legation at Brussels, made clear to the German government that executing Cavell would further harm Germany's already damaged reputation. Later, he wrote: [15]

We reminded [German civil governor Baron von der Lancken] of the burning of Louvain and the sinking of the Lusitania , and told him that this murder would rank with those two affairs and would stir all civilised countries with horror and disgust. Count Harrach broke in at this with the rather irrelevant remark that he would rather see Miss Cavell shot than have harm come to the humblest German soldier, and his only regret was that they had not "three or four old English women to shoot."

Baron von der Lancken is known to have stated that Cavell should be pardoned because of her complete honesty and because she had helped save so many lives, German as well as Allied. However, General von Sauberzweig, the military governor of Brussels, ordered that "in the interests of the State" the implementation of the death penalty against Baucq and Cavell should be immediate, [8] denying higher authorities an opportunity to consider clemency. [9] [16] Cavell was defended by lawyer Sadi Kirschen from Brussels. Of the twenty-seven defendants, five were condemned to death: Cavell, Baucq (an architect in his thirties), Louise Thuliez, Séverin and Countess Jeanne de Belleville. Of the five sentenced to death, only Cavell and Baucq were executed; the other three were granted reprieve. [8]

Cavell was arrested not for espionage, as many were led to believe, but for "war treason", despite not being a German national. [3] She may have been recruited by the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), and turned away from her espionage duties in order to help Allied soldiers escape, although this is not widely accepted. [17] Rankin cites the published statement of M. R. D. Foot, historian and Second World War British intelligence officer, as to Cavell having been part of SIS or MI6. [18] The former director-general of MI5, Stella Rimington, announced in 2015 that she had unearthed documents in Belgian military archives that confirmed an intelligence gathering aspect to Cavell's network. The BBC Radio 4 programme that presented Rimington's quote, noted Cavell's use of secret codes and, though amateurish, other network members' successful transmission of intelligence. [19]

When in custody, Cavell was questioned in French, but her trial was minuted in German; which some assert gave the prosecutor the opportunity to misinterpret her answers. Although she may have been misrepresented, she made no attempt to defend herself, but responded to have channelled "environ deux cents" soldiers to the Dutch border. Cavell was provided with a defender approved by the German military governor; a previous defender, who was chosen for Cavell by her assistant, Elizabeth Wilkins, [3] was ultimately rejected by the governor. [16]

George Bellows, The Murder of Edith Cavell, 1918, Princeton University Art Museum Bellows, George Wesley, The Murder of Edith Cavell, 1918.jpg
George Bellows, The Murder of Edith Cavell, 1918, Princeton University Art Museum

The night before her execution, she told the Reverend Stirling Gahan, the Anglican chaplain who had been allowed to see her and to give her Holy Communion, "Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone." [20] These words are inscribed on her statue in St Martin's Place, near Trafalgar Square in London. Her final words to the German Lutheran prison chaplain, Paul Le Seur, were recorded as, "Ask Father Gahan to tell my loved ones later on that my soul, as I believe, is safe, and that I am glad to die for my country." [21]

From his sick bed Brand Whitlock, the U.S. ambassador to Belgium, wrote a personal note on Cavell's behalf to Moritz von Bissing, the governor general of Belgium. Hugh Gibson; Maitre G. de Leval, the legal adviser to the United States legation; and Rodrigo Saavedra y Vinent  [ es ], 2nd Marques de Villalobar, the Spanish minister, formed a midnight deputation of appeal for mercy or at least postponement of execution. [22] Despite these efforts, on 11 October, Baron von der Lancken allowed the execution to proceed. [9] Sixteen men, forming two firing squads, carried out the sentence pronounced on her and on four Belgian men at the Tir national [3] shooting range in Schaerbeek, at 7:00 am on 12 October 1915. There are conflicting reports of the details of Cavell's execution. However, according to the eyewitness account of the Reverend Le Seur, who attended Cavell in her final hours, eight soldiers fired at Cavell while the other eight executed Baucq. [3] Her execution, certification of death, and burial were all witnessed by the German poet Gottfried Benn in his capacity as a 'Senior Doctor in the Brussels Government since the first days of the (German) occupation'. Benn wrote a detailed account titled "Wie Miss Cavell erschossen wurde" (How Miss Cavell was shot, 1928). [23]

There is also a dispute over the sentencing imposed under the German Military Code. Supposedly, the death penalty relevant to the offence committed by Cavell was not officially declared until a few hours after her death. [1] The British post-war Committee of Enquiry into Breaches of the Laws of War however regarded the verdict as legally correct. [24]

On instructions from the Spanish minister, Belgian women immediately buried her body next to Saint-Gilles Prison. [9] After the war, her body was taken back to Britain for a memorial service at Westminster Abbey and then transferred to Norwich, to be laid to rest at Life's Green on the east side of the cathedral. The King had to grant an exception to an Order in Council of 1854, which prevented any burials in the grounds of the cathedral, to allow the reburial. [25]

First World War propaganda

An anti-German post-First World War poster from the British Empire Union, including Cavell's grave British Empire Union WWI poster.jpg
An anti-German post-First World War poster from the British Empire Union, including Cavell's grave
The Cavell Case (1919), an American film The Cavell Case.jpg
The Cavell Case (1919), an American film
Edith Cavell (Uccle 2015), by Nathalie Lambert Edith Cavell - Uccle.jpg
Edith Cavell (Uccle 2015), by Nathalie Lambert

In the months and years following Cavell's death, countless newspaper articles, pamphlets, images, and books publicised her story. She became an iconic propaganda figure for military recruitment in Britain, and to help increase favourable sentiment towards the Allies in the United States. She was a popular icon because of her sex, her nursing profession, and her apparently heroic approach to death. [1] Her execution was represented as an act of German barbarism and moral depravity.

News reports shortly following Cavell's execution were found to be only true in part. [3] Even the American Journal of Nursing repeated the fictional account of Cavell's execution in which she fainted and fell because of her refusal to wear a blindfold in front of the firing squad. [3] Allegedly, while she lay unconscious, the German commanding officer shot her dead with a revolver. [9] Along with the invasion of Belgium, and the sinking of the Lusitania , Cavell's execution was widely publicised in both Britain and North America by Wellington House, the British War Propaganda Bureau. [26]

Because of the British government's decision to publicise Cavell's story as part of its propaganda effort, she became the most prominent British female casualty of the First World War. [16] The combination of heroic appeal and a resonant atrocity-story narrative made Cavell's case one of the most effective in British propaganda of the First World War. [26]

Before the First World War, Cavell was not well known outside nursing circles. [3] This allowed two different depictions of the truth about her in British propaganda, which were a reply to enemy attempts to justify her shooting, including the suggestion that Cavell, during her interrogation, had given information that incriminated others. In November 1915, the British Foreign Office issued a denial that Cavell had implicated anyone else in her testimony.

One image commonly represented was of Cavell as an innocent victim of a ruthless and dishonourable enemy. [16] This view depicted her as having helped Allied soldiers to escape, but innocent of 'espionage', and was most commonly used in various forms of British propaganda, such as postcards and newspaper illustrations during the war. [16] Her story was presented in the British press as a means of fuelling a desire for revenge on the battlefield. [16] These images implied that men must enlist in the armed forces immediately in order to stop forces that could arrange the judicial murder of an innocent British woman.

Another representation of a side of Cavell during the First World War saw her described as a serious, reserved, brave, and patriotic woman who devoted her life to nursing and died to save others. This portrayal has been illustrated in numerous biographical sources, from personal first-hand experiences of the Red Cross nurse. Pastor Le Seur, the German army chaplain, recalled at the time of her execution, "I do not believe that Miss Cavell wanted to be a martyr  ... but she was ready to die for her country ... Miss Cavell was a very brave woman and a faithful Christian". [3] Another account from Anglican chaplain, the Reverend Gahan, remembers Cavell's words, "I have no fear or shrinking; I have seen death so often it is not strange, or fearful to me!" [9] In this interpretation, her stoicism was seen as remarkable for a non-combatant woman, and brought her even greater renown than a man in similar circumstances would have received. [16]

German response

The Imperial German Government thought that it had acted fairly towards Cavell. In a letter, German undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Dr Alfred Zimmermann (not to be confused with Arthur Zimmermann, German Secretary for Foreign Affairs) made a statement to the press on behalf of the German government:

It was a pity that Miss Cavell had to be executed, but it was necessary. She was judged justly ... It is undoubtedly a terrible thing that the woman has been executed; but consider what would happen to a State, particularly in war, if it left crimes aimed at the safety of its armies to go unpunished because they were committed by women. [27]

From the perspective of the German government, had it released Cavell there might have been a surge in the number of women participating in acts against Germany because they knew they would not be severely punished. It took the view that it was up to the responsible men to follow their legal duty to Germany and ignore the world's condemnation. Its laws did not make distinctions between sexes; the only exception to this being that, according to legal customs, women in a "delicate" (probably this means "pregnant") condition should not be executed. [27] However, in January 1916 the Kaiser decreed that from then on capital punishment should not be carried out on women without his explicit prior endorsement. [28]

The German government also believed that all of the convicted people were thoroughly aware of the nature of their acts. The court paid particular attention to this point, releasing several people because there was doubt as to whether the accused knew that their actions were punishable. [27] The condemned, in contrast, knew full well what they were doing and the punishment for committing their crimes because "numerous public proclamations had pointed out the fact that aiding enemies’ armies was punishable with death." [27] The Allied response to this was the same as to Bethmann-Hollweg's announcement of the invasion of Belgium, or the notice given in the papers of intent to sink such ships as the RMS Lusitania; to make a public proclamation of a thing does not make it right.

Burial and memorials

Memorial to Cavell outside Norwich Cathedral Edith Cavell monument.JPG
Memorial to Cavell outside Norwich Cathedral
XII - Execution of Edith Cavell, one of 14 paintings on Cavell by Brian Whelan in Norwich Cathedral XII Execution of Edith Cavell painting by Brian Whelan 2015.jpg
XII – Execution of Edith Cavell, one of 14 paintings on Cavell by Brian Whelan in Norwich Cathedral
Detail of the Edith Cavell Memorial, St Martin's Place, London Edith Cavel Memorial - statue.jpg
Detail of the Edith Cavell Memorial, St Martin's Place, London
War memorial in Rue Colonel Bourg, Schaerbeek including Cavell's name Schaerbeek Rue Colonel Bourg Enclos des fusilles 02.jpg
War memorial in Rue Colonel Bourg, Schaerbeek including Cavell's name
Monument to Edith Cavell and Marie Depage, Brussels Monument Cavell-Depage Bxl.JPG
Monument to Edith Cavell and Marie Depage, Brussels
Interior of the Cavell Van at Bodiam railway station CavellVanQEIIJ60.jpg
Interior of the Cavell Van at Bodiam railway station

Cavell's remains were returned to Britain after the war. As the ship bearing the coffin arrived in Dover, a full peal of Grandsire Triples (5040 Changes, Parker's Twelve-Part) was rung on the bells of the parish church. The peal was notable: "Rung with the bells deeply muffled with the exception of the Tenor which was open at back stroke, in token of respect to Nurse Cavell, whose body arrived at Dover during the ringing and rested in the town till the following morning. The ringers of 1-2-3-4-5-6 are ex-soldiers, F. Elliot having been eight months Prisoner of War in Germany." Deep (or full) muffling is normally only used for the deaths of sovereigns. [29] A peal using the same method, with the bells half muffled, was rung for the centenary of her repatriation. [30] After an overnight pause in the parish church the body was conveyed to London and a state funeral was held at Westminster Abbey. On 19 May 1919, her body was reburied at the east side of Norwich Cathedral; a graveside service is still held each October. [31] The railway van known as the Cavell Van that conveyed her remains from Dover to London is kept as a memorial on the Kent and East Sussex Railway and is usually open to view at Bodiam railway station.

In the Church of England's calendar of saints, the day appointed for the commemoration of Cavell is 12 October. This is a memorial in her honour rather than formal canonisation, and so not a "saint's feast day" in the traditional sense.

Following Cavell's death, many memorials were created around the world to remember her. A patriotic song, "Remember Nurse Cavell" (words by Gordon V. Thompson, music by Jules Brazil) appeared with 1915 British copyright. The name Mount Edith Cavell was given in 1916 to a massive peak in Canada's Jasper National Park. A memorial statue was unveiled on 12 October 1918 by Queen Alexandra in the grounds of Norwich Cathedral, during the opening of a home for nurses, which also bore her name. [32]

To commemorate her centenary in 2015, work went ahead to restore Cavell's grave in the grounds of Norwich Cathedral after being awarded a £50,000 grant. [33] Fourteen paintings by Brian Whelan were commissioned by Norwich Cathedral to commemorate the life and death of Edith Cavell. [34]

During October 2015, a railway carriage (Cavell Van) used to transport Cavell's body back to the United Kingdom was on display outside the Forum, Norwich. [35] Norwich Cathedral held a memorial service, performed live on BBC Radio 4 on 11 October 2015. In addition to cathedral clergy, guests such as General Richard Dannatt, and actress Matilda Ziegler performed various spoken vignettes organised by Canon Peter Doll. Anto Morra sang unaccompanied his "Edith Louisa Cavell" lyrics to a tune written by Percy Paradise. [36]

The centenary was marked by two new musical compositions:

Cavell was featured on a UK commemorative £5 coin, part of a set issued in 2015 by the Royal Mint to mark the centenary of the war. [38]


Films, plays and television

Advertisement for The Woman the Germans Shot The Woman the Germans Shot.jpg
Advertisement for The Woman the Germans Shot


See also

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Edith Cavell Memorial memorial in London, England

The Edith Cavell Memorial is an outdoor memorial to Edith Cavell by Sir George Frampton, in London, United Kingdom. The memorial is sited in St Martin's Place, beside the A400, just outside the northeast corner of Trafalgar Square, north of St Martin-in-the-Fields, east of the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery, and south of the London Coliseum. The site is adjacent to the first headquarters of the British Red Cross, originally located at 7 St Martin's Place.

Anglo-Belgian Memorial, London Monument in London, given by Belgium in gratitude for Britains sheltering of Belgian refugees in World War I

The Anglo-Belgian Memorial, also known as the Belgian Gratitude Memorial or the Belgian Refugees Memorial, is a war memorial on Victoria Embankment in London, opposite Cleopatra's Needle. It was a gift from Belgium, as a mark of thanks for assistance given by the UK during the First World War, and in particular for sheltering thousands of Belgian refugees who fled from the war. It is a Grade II* listed building.

Catherine Black (nurse) Irish nurse

Catherine Black, MBE, RCC, SRN (1878–1949), also known as "Blackie", served in World War I and as the private nurse to King George V.

Marie Depage Belgian nurse

Marie Pauline Depage was a Belgian nurse, and wife of Dr Antoine Depage. She was killed in the sinking of the RMS Lusitania, and she is commemorated in Belgium alongside the British nurse Edith Cavell.

<i>The Woman the Germans Shot</i> 1918 film by John G. Adolfi

(for the British sound film on Edith Cavell, see Nurse Edith Cavell)

Cavell Nurses' Trust is a charitable organisation which supports the welfare of nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1917 in the memory of British nurse Edith Cavell.

Louise Thuliez

Louise Thuliez was a French school teacher, resistance fighter during World War I and World War II and author.

Princess Marie Élisabeth Louise of Croÿ was a member of the Belgian aristocracy and a member of the Belgian Resistance during two world wars.


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Further reading