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Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Edith Cavell

Edith Cavell (1865-1915) was an English training nurse living in Belgium. When the First World War broke out, she was visiting her widowed mother in Norfolk in the East of England. She returned to Brussels, where her clinic and nursing school were taken over by the Red Cross.

Cavell in a garden in Brussels with her two dogs before the outbreak of war

Cavell's strong Anglican beliefs propelled her to help all those who needed help. In November 1914, after the German occupation of Brussels, Cavell began sheltering British soldiers and funneling them out of occupied Belgium to the neutral Netherlands.

Edith Cavell was arrested on August 3, 1915 and charged with harboring Allied soldiers. The British nurse had been betrayed by Gaston Quien, who was later convicted by a French court as a collaborator.

Edith Cavell was executed by a German firing squad on October 12, 1915. The night before her execution, she told the Anglican chaplain Reverend Stirling Gahan, "Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone." These words are inscribed on her statue in St Martin's Place, near Trafalgar Square in London.

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

On June 23, 1940, Adolf Hitler, his forces having taken control of France, made his one and only trip during the war to Paris. Before he left, he ordered that a memorial to Edith Cavell be demolished.

A mountain is named after her: Mount Edith Cavell, in Alberta, Canada,

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