Edith Cavell

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Edith Cavell



Born: Edith Louisa Cavell on 4 December 1865 in Swardeston in Norfolk (GB).


Edith and her two younger sisters, Florence and Lilian, had their early education not at the recently opened village school but at home. Later in 1881, Edith is thought to have spent a few months at Norwich High School, when it was housed at the Assembly House in Theatre Street, Norwich.

1895 saw Edith's return to Swardeston to nurse her father through a brief illness. He remained Vicar until his retirement in 1909. Helping to restore her father to health made Edith resolve to take up nursing as a career. After testing her vocation for a few months at the Fountains Fever Hospital, Tooting, Edith (Aged 30) was accepted for training at the London Hospital under Eva Lückes in April 1896.

In 1907 she became the matron of the Berkendael Institute in Brussels. From the commencement of WW1 Cavell sheltered at the Institute British, French and Belgian soldiers, from where they were helped to escape to Holland, which was neutral.

On August 5 1915, Otto Mayer of the German Secret Police arrived in the Rue de la Culture. Cavell was driven to police headquarters and questioned. The only document incriminating the nurse was a tattered postcard sent, rather unwisely, by an English soldier  thanking her for helping him to reach home. Cavell was sentenced to death, along with four Belgians. Two firing squads, each of eight men, carried out the execution at dawn on October 12, 1915, at the national rifle range in Brussels. Cavell was still wearing her nurse's uniform.

Last Modified: Thursday May 20, 2010


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