Biography of Edith Cavell


Cavell, Edith. English nurse. Born in Norfolkshire 1866. She was the daughter of a clergyman. In 1907 she established a training school for nurses in Brussels in which hundreds of Belgian and German nurses were trained. In August 1915, during the German occupation of the city under the civil governorship of Baron von der Lancken, Miss Cavell was suddenly arrested and imprisoned. She was charged with having aided English and Belgian young men who had come under her care as a nurse to escape into Holland. Following trial in military court, October 7-8, she was secretly condemned to be executed. In view of the fact that Miss Cavell had devoted her life to humane service, and that the death penalty had not previously been inflicted for the offense with which she was charged, the American minister to Belgium, Brand Whitlock, endeavored by all means in his power to prevent her execution. When Whitlock's secretary, Hugh Gibson, on the evening of her execution, sought the offices of the civil governor, Baron von der Lancken and his staff were found attending a disreputable theater. After first denying, though later admitting, both the sentence and the order of execution, Von der Lancken refused to delay her execution or even to grant permission to telephone the Kaiser in her behalf. When reminded that her murder would rank with the burning of Louvain and the sinking of the "Lusitania" in stirring the civilized world with horror, Count Harrach, the civil governor's aide, remarked that his only regret was that they did not have "three or four more old English women to shoot." Despite all efforts of the American minister, Miss Cavell was shot at 2 am, October 13, 1915.