Edith Cavell served for a number of years as the matron of a nurse’s training school in Brussels. After the city was captured and occupied by the Germans in the first month of the first world war Edith Cavell chose to remain at her post, tending to German soldiers and Belgians alike.
In August 1915, German authorities arrested her and accused her of helping the British and French prisoners as well as the Belgians hoping to serve with the Allied armies escape Belgium for the neutral Holland.
During her trial, Cavell had admitted that she was guilty of the offenses with which she had been charged. She was sentenced to death. Though diplomats from the neutral governments of the USA and Spain fought to commute her sentence, their efforts were ultimately in vain.
The night before her execution on October 12, 1915, Edith Cavell confided in Reverend Horace Graham, a chaplain from the American Legation, that….
“They have all been very kind to me here. But this I would say, standing as I do in view of God and eternity I realise that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.”
Edith Cavell’s execution led to a rise in anti-German feeling in the United States as well as in Britain, where she was idealized as a heroic martyr to the cause and was honored with a statue in St. Martin’s Place, just off London’s Trafalgar Square.
4th Dec 1965 – 12th Oct 1915.