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Cavell, Edith

Cavell, Edith (1865–1915). The daughter of Frederick Cavell, vicar of Swardeston (Norfolk), Edith Cavell was a governess in Brussels before training as a nurse. In 1907 she returned to Brussels to become matron of the hospital of St Gilles and remained there at the outbreak of war in 1914. She set up escape routes for hundreds of Belgian and allied fugitives and was arrested by the Germans in August 1915. Under repeated interrogations and in solitary confinement, she made full confessions. Court-martialled on 7 October, she was shot on 12 October, dying with dignity and courage. The reaction world-wide to her death was enormous and elevated her to the status of martyr. Her body was later exhumed and reinterred in Norwich cathedral, 5 miles from her childhood home. A memorial was erected to her in St Martin's Place, off Trafalgar Square, London.

Sue Minna Cannon

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Cavell, Edith

Edith Cavell (kăv´əl), 1865–1915, English nurse. When World War I broke out, she was head of the nursing staff of the Berkendael Medical Institute in Brussels. In 1915 she was arrested by the German occupation authorities and pleaded guilty to a charge of harboring and aiding Allied prisoners and assisting some 130 to cross the Dutch frontier. She was shot on Oct. 11, 1915, despite the efforts of Brand Whitlock, U.S. minister to Belgium, to secure a reprieve.

See biography by A. E. Clark-Kennedy (1965).

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