37 Facts About Edith Cavell


Edith Cavell is celebrated for saving the lives of soldiers from both sides without discrimination and for helping some 200 Allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium during the First World War, for which she was arrested under martial law.


Edith Cavell was accused of treason, found guilty by a court-martial and sentenced to death.


Edith Cavell's execution received worldwide condemnation and extensive press coverage.


Edith Cavell was born on 4 December 1865 in Swardeston, a village near Norwich, where her father was vicar for 45 years.


Edith Cavell was the eldest of the four children of the Reverend Frederick Cavell and his wife Louisa Sophia Warming.


Edith Cavell was educated at Norwich High School for Girls, then at boarding schools in Clevedon, Somerset, and Peterborough.


Edith Cavell worked as a nurse at the Fountain Fever Hospital in Tooting from December 1895.


At the age of 30, Edith Cavell applied to become a nurse probationer at the London Hospital and commenced as a regular probationer at the London Hospital in September 1896 under Matron Eva Luckes.


Edith Cavell was seconded to work with other London Hospital nurses in the Maidstone typhoid epidemic, from 15 October 1897 until early January 1898, while still a probationer.


Edith Cavell travelled to tend patients with cancer, gout, pneumonia, pleurisy, eye issues and appendicitis.


In 1907, Edith Cavell was recruited by Antoine Depage to be matron of a newly established nursing school, L'Ecole Belge d'Infirmieres Diplomees on the Rue de la Culture, in Ixelles, Brussels.


Edith Cavell was offered a position as matron in a Brussels clinic.


Edith Cavell worked closely with Depage, who was part of a "growing body of people" in the medical profession in Belgium.


Edith Cavell realised that the care that was being provided by the religious institutions had not been keeping up with medical advances.


In 1910, Edith Cavell was asked if she would be the matron for the new secular hospital at Saint-Gilles.


Edith Cavell returned to Brussels, where her clinic and nursing school were taken over by the Red Cross.


In November 1914, after the German occupation of Brussels, Edith Cavell began sheltering British soldiers and funnelling them out of occupied Belgium to the neutral Netherlands.


Edith Cavell was arrested on 3 August 1915 and charged with harbouring Allied soldiers.


Edith Cavell had been betrayed by Georges Gaston Quien, who was later convicted by a French court as a collaborator.


Edith Cavell was held in Saint-Gilles prison for ten weeks, the last two of which were spent in solitary confinement.


Edith Cavell made three depositions to the German police, 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.


Edith Cavell admitted her guilt when she signed a statement the day before the trial.


Edith Cavell declared that the soldiers she had helped escape thanked her in writing when they arrived safely in Britain.


Baron von der Lancken is known to have stated that Edith 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 Edith Cavell should be immediate, denying higher authorities an opportunity to consider clemency.


Edith Cavell was represented by defence lawyer Sadi Kirschen from Brussels.


Edith Cavell was arrested not for espionage, as many were led to believe, but for "war treason", despite not being a German national.


When in custody, Edith Cavell was questioned in French, but her trial was minuted in German; which some assert gave the prosecutor the opportunity to misinterpret her answers.


Edith Cavell was provided with a defender approved by the German military governor; a previous defender, who was chosen for Edith Cavell by her assistant, Elizabeth Wilkins, was ultimately rejected by the governor.


Supposedly, the death penalty relevant to the offence committed by Edith Cavell was not officially declared until a few hours after her death.


Edith Cavell became an iconic propaganda figure for military recruitment in Britain, and to help increase favourable sentiment towards the Allies in the United States.


News reports shortly after Edith Cavell's execution were found to be only true in part.


In November 1915, the British Foreign Office issued a denial that Edith Cavell had implicated anyone else in her testimony.


Edith Cavell's story was presented in the British press as a means of fuelling a desire for revenge on the battlefield.


Edith Cavell's remains were returned to Britain after the war, sailing from Ostend aboard the destroyer HMS Rowena and landing at Admiralty Pier in Dover on 14 May 1919.


Edith Cavell's was one of only three sets of British remains repatriated following the end of the War, the others being Charles Fryatt and The Unknown Warrior.


Edith Cavell's body was transferred to a railway van and lay in state on the pier overnight before departing from Dover Harbour station for London Victoria station.