Born on 4th of December 1865
Died on 12th of October 1915
Edith Louisa Cavell was born December 4th 1865 and died October 12th 1915. She was a British nurse and humanitarian, celebrated for helping hundreds of soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium during WWI, and held up as a martyr and heroine for being executed for it. She was born in Swardeston in Norfolk where her father was the local vicar. She trained as a nurse at the Royal London Hospital and in 1907 was appointed matron of the Berkendael Institute in Brussels, Belgium, established by surgeon and Belgian Red Cross founder, Antoine Depage. Depage also appointed Cavell director of a nursing school he established, L'Ecole d'Infirmiere Dimplonier. When World War I broke out, the Berkendael Institute was taken over by the Red Cross and Cavell could have returned to England. Instead she stayed and helped hundreds of Allied forces soldiers escape from occupied Belgium to the neutral Netherlands, in violation of military law. She was arrested on August 3rd 1915 and jailed for 10 weeks, with the last 2 weeks being in solitary confinement. She was court-martialled by the Germans for the offence of harbouring Allied soldiers, despite the fact that she had helped save the lives of many German soldiers as well. She made no defence, admitting her actions. The UK and neutral US and Spanish governments sought a reprieve for her, but to no avail. She was executed by firing squad at 2am on October 12th 1915 at the Tir National, a military site. Her execution proceeded to become an important piece of British propaganda throughout the war. Due to her being a woman and her profession, Cavell became an iconic public figure for military recruitment in Britain and she became the most prominent British female casualty of World War I. The night before she was executed she was reported as telling an Anglican chaplain who gave her Holy Communion, "Patriotism is not enough, I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone." These words are inscribed on a statue of her in Saint Martin's Place, London. After the war, Cavell's body was exhumed from Tir National and returned to the UK. George V led a memorial service for her at Westminster Abbey, after which her body was transported by special train to Thorpe Station, Norwich where she was reburied on Life's Green in Norwich Cathedral.
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