Monday, 12 October 2015

On this day . . .

Edith Cavell, a British nurse, was matron of the Berkendael Institute in Brussels from 1907, where she helped pioneer modern nursing techniques in Belgium.  She was in England on leave when war broke out in 1914 but quickly returned to Belgium, where she insisted that soldiers of both sides should receive medical care without fear or favour.  But she did help British soldiers to escape and was arrested by the Germans in 1915, charged with treason.  Found guilty, she was sentenced to death and the next day, 12 October 1915, she was executed by firing squad.

The British government used her death as an effective propaganda weapon and, such was the anger in Britain, recruitment numbers rose from 5,000 to 10,000 a week.  In Canada, she was featured on a poster urging men to enlist.  Postcards were printed as well.
Her body was exhumed in 1919 and given a military escort to Westminster Abbey for a memorial ceremony, after which she was re-buried in the grounds of Norwich cathedral.

Just before her execution, she is reported to have said, "Standing as I do in view of God and Eternity, I realize that patriotism is not enough. I have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone".


joeh said...

Very interesting...quite a lady.

Interesting how today every time ISIS cuts off a head their recruitment goes up.

Meg said...

What a surprise to see your reference to Edith Cavell. I had never heard of her until she was mentioned in the book I am reading for my book group -- "The Nightingale" by Kristin Hannah. It is about two sisters who work with the resistance in France, and greatly admire Edith Cavell.

Sarah said...

What a brave and compassionate lady.