Tag Archives: Edith Cavell

The Tomb of The Unknown Warrior

The Unknown Warrior

unknown soldier blog header

 

The British grave of The Unknown Warrior (often known as ‘The Tomb of The Unknown Warrior’) holds an unidentified British soldier killed on a European battlefield during the First World War.

He was buried in Westminster Abbey, London on 11 November 1920, simultaneously with a similar interment of a French unknown soldier at the Arc de Triomphe in France, making both graves the first to honour the unknown dead of the First World War. It is the first example of a tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

 

History of the Unknown Warrior

 

Origins

David railton

David Railton

The idea of a Tomb of the Unknown Warrior was first conceived in 1916 by the Reverend David Railton, who, while serving as an army chaplain on the Western Front, had seen a grave marked by a rough cross, which bore the pencil-written legend ‘An Unknown British Soldier’.

He wrote to the Dean of Westminster in 1920 proposing that an  unidentified British soldier from the battlefields in France be buried with due ceremony in Westminster Abbey “amongst the kings” to represent the many hundreds of thousands of Empire dead.

The idea was strongly supported by the Dean and the Prime Minister David Lloyd George

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Funeral of the Unknown Warrior

 

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Selection, arrival and ceremony

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Lord Curzon of Kedleston 

Arrangements were placed in the hands of Lord Curzon of Kedleston who prepared in committee the service and location. Suitable remains were exhumed from various battlefields and brought to the chapel at Saint-Pol-sur-Ternoise near Arras, France on the night of 7 November 1920. The bodies were received by the Reverend George Kendall OBE. Brigadier L.J. Wyatt and Lieutenant Colonel E.A.S. Gell of the Directorate of Graves Registration and Enquiries went into the chapel alone.

The remains were then placed in four plain coffins each covered by Union Flags: the two officers did not know from which battlefield any individual soldier had come. Brigadier Wyatt with closed eyes rested his hand on one of the coffins. The other soldiers were then taken away for reburial by Kendall.

 

The body of the Unknown Warrior leaving france.jpg

The body of the Unknown Warrior leaving France

The coffin of the unknown warrior then stayed at the chapel overnight and on the afternoon of 8 November, it was transferred under guard and escorted by Kendall, with troops lining the route, from Ste Pol to the medieval castle within the ancient citadel at Boulogne. For the occasion, the castle library was transformed into a chapelle ardente: a company from the French 8th Infantry Regiment, recently awarded the Légion d’Honneur en masse, stood vigil overnight.

The following morning, two undertakers entered the castle library and placed the coffin into a casket of the oak timbers of trees from Hampton Court PalaceThe casket was banded with iron, and a medieval crusader’s sword chosen by King George V personally from the Royal Collection was affixed to the top and surmounted by an iron shield bearing the inscription

 

‘A British Warrior who fell in the Great War 1914–1918 for King and Country’.

The casket was then placed onto a French military wagon, drawn by six black horses. At 10.30 am, all the church bells of Boulogne tolled; the massed trumpets of the French cavalry and the bugles of the French infantry played Aux Champs (the French “Last Post“).

Then, the mile-long procession—led by one thousand local schoolchildren and escorted by a division of French troops—made its way down to the harbour.

At the quayside, Marshal Foch saluted the casket before it was carried up the gangway of the destroyer, HMS Verdun, and piped aboard with an admiral’s call. The Verdun slipped anchor just before noon and was joined by an escort of six battleships.

As the flotilla carrying the casket closed on Dover Castle it received a 19-gun Field Marshal‘s salute. It was landed at Dover Marine Railway Station at the Western Docks on 10 November. The body of the Unknown Warrior was carried to London in South Eastern and Chatham Railway General Utility Van No.132, which had previously carried the bodies of Edith Cavell and Charles Fryatt.

 

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Plaque at Victoria Station

The van has been preserved by the Kent and East Sussex RailwayThe train went to Victoria Station, where it arrived at platform 8 at 8.32 pm that evening and remained overnight. (A plaque at Victoria Station marks the site: every year on 10 November, a small Remembrance service, organised by The Western Front Association, takes place between platforms 8 and 9.)

On the morning of 11 November 1920, the casket was placed onto a gun carriage of the Royal Horse Artillery and drawn by six horses through immense and silent crowds. As the cortege set off, a further Field Marshal’s salute was fired in Hyde Park.

The route followed was Hyde Park CornerThe Mall, and to Whitehall where the Cenotaph, a “symbolic empty tomb”, was unveiled by King-Emperor George V. The cortège was then followed by The King, the Royal Family and ministers of state to Westminster Abbey, where the casket was borne into the West Nave of the Abbey flanked by a guard of honour of one hundred recipients of the Victoria Cross

 

coffin of the unknown soldier

The guests of honour were a group of about one hundred women. They had been chosen because they had each lost their husband and all their sons in the war.

 “Every woman so bereft who applied for a place got it”.

 

The coffin was then interred in the far western end of the Nave, only a few feet from the entrance, in soil brought from each of the main battlefields, and covered with a silk pall. Servicemen from the armed forces stood guard as tens of thousands of mourners filed silently past. The ceremony appears to have served as a form of catharsis for collective mourning on a scale not previously known.

The grave was then capped with a black Belgian marble stone (the only tombstone in the Abbey on which it is forbidden to walk) featuring this inscription, composed by Herbert Edward Ryle, Dean of Westminster, engraved with brass from melted down wartime ammunition:

Beneath this stone rests the body
Of a British warrior
Unknown by name or rank
Brought from France to lie among
The most illustrious of the land
And buried here on Armistice Day
11 Nov: 1920, in the presence of
His Majesty King George V
His Ministers of State
The Chiefs of his forces
And a vast concourse of the nation

Thus are commemorated the many
Multitudes who during the Great
War of 1914 – 1918 gave the most that
Man can give life itself
For God
For King and country
For loved ones home and empire
For the sacred cause of justice and
The freedom of the world

They buried him among the kings because he
Had done good toward God and toward
His house

Around the main inscription are four New Testament quotations:

The Lord knoweth them that are his (top; 2 Timothy 2:19)
Unknown and yet well known, dying and behold we live (side; 2 Corinthians 6:9)
Greater love hath no man than this (side; John 15:13)
In Christ shall all be made alive (base; 1 Corinthians 15:22)

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The Actual “Unknown Soldier” – Remembrance Day – WW

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Later history

A year later, on 17 October 1921, the unknown warrior was given the United States’ highest award for valour, the Medal of Honor, from the hand of General John Pershing; it hangs on a pillar close to the tomb. On 11 November 1921, the American Unknown Soldier was reciprocally awarded the Victoria Cross.

Princess Elizabeth's wedding bouquet on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, a tradition started by her mother in 1923..JPG

Princess Elizabeth’s wedding bouquet on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, a tradition started by her mother in 1923.

When Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon married the future King George VI on 26 April 1923, she laid her bouquet at the Tomb on her way into the Abbey, as a tribute to her brother Fergus who had died at the Battle of Loos in 1915 (and whose name was then listed among those of the missing on the Loos Memorial, although in 2012 a new headstone was erected in the Quarry Cemetery, Vermelles).

Royal brides married at the Abbey now have their bouquets laid on the tomb the day after the wedding and all of the official wedding photographs have been taken. It is also the only tomb not to have been covered by a special red carpet for the wedding of Prince Albert, Duke of York, and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.

The bridal bouquet rests on the grave

Kate Middleton’s bridal bouquet 

Meghan follows royal traditional as her bridal bouquet

Meghan follows royal traditional as her bridal bouquet is laid on the tomb of The Unknown Warrior. 

Before she died in 2002, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (the same Elizabeth who first laid her wedding bouquet at the tomb) expressed the wish for her wreath to be placed on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. Her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, laid the wreath the day after the funeral.

The British Unknown Warrior came 76th in the 100 Great Britons poll. The LMS-Patriot Project a charitable organisation, is building a new steam locomotive that will carry the name The Unknown Warrior. The new loco has been endorsed by the Royal British Legion as the new National Memorial Engine. A public appeal to build the locomotive was launched in 2008. The Unknown Warrior is expected to be complete by January 2019—one year late of the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice.

Heads of state from over 70 countries have lain wreaths in memoriam of the Unknown Warrior.

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Great War Tour Ep 2 – Identifying the Unknown Soldier

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Source :  Wikipedia – The Unknown Warrior

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Telegraph Story

Kate Middleton’s bridal bouquet placed at Grave of Unknown Warrior

Kate Middleton's bridal bouquet placed at Grave of Unknown Warrior.jpg

As tradition dictates, Kate Middleton’s bridal bouquet was laid at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior inside Westminster Abbey after the Royal wedding ceremony was completed.
It is understood that the bouquet was placed at the grave, which is located at the nave in the west end of the Abbey, by a royal official after the official wedding photographs were completed.
The tradition began in 1923 following the wedding of Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon – the future Queen Elizabeth – to the Duke of York, who later became George VI.
Lady Elizabeth, who became the Queen Mother in 1952, left her bouquet at the grave in memory of her brother Fergus, a young officer who was killed on the Western Front in 1915.
The grave is one of the most sacred places in the Abbey and is the only part of the floor upon which the congregations are not allowed to walk.

It is thought that the idea to commemorate the unknown war dead of the 1914-18 conflict, which saw a generation perish on Western Front, came from the Rev David Railton who served as a chaplain during the conflict.

Legend has it that in 1916, while serving in Armentieres, Rev Railton noticed a grave in the garden with a rough hand-made cross bearing the inscription “An unknown British Soldier”.

In 1920, Rev Railton wrote to Herbert Ryle, the Dean of Westminster with the suggestion that all of those who died in the trenches and whose bodies were never be found should be remembered.

The body of a soldier was exhumed from a mass grave in France after the First World War and was buried on 11 November 1920.

The grave which contains soil from France, is covered by a slab of black Belgian marble from a quarry near Namur and contains an inscription composed by Herbert Ryle, who at the time was the Dean of Westminster.

In the week after the unknown soldier was laid to rest, more than 1.2 million people visited the Abbey and the site is now one of the world’s most visited graves.

The body was chosen from four unknown British servicemen exhumed from four battle areas, the Aisne, the Somme, Arras and Ypres.

The remains were brought to the chapel at St. Pol on the night of 7 November 1920. The General Officer in charge of troops in France and Flanders, Brigadier General L.J.Wyatt, with Colonel Gell, went into the chapel alone, where the bodies on stretchers were covered by Union Flags. General Wyatt selected one and the two officers placed it in a plain coffin and sealed it.

The other bodies were reburied. The destroyer HMS Verdun, whose ship’s bell now hangs near the grave in the Abbey, transported the coffin to Dover and it was then taken by train to Victoria station in London where it rested overnight.

On the morning of 11 November the coffin was placed on a gun carriage drawn by six black horses and began its journey through the crowd-lined streets.

The coffin to the Nave through a guard of honour of 100 holders of the Victoria Cross, During the shortened form of the Burial Service, after the hymn “Lead kindly light”, the King stepped forward and dropped a handful of French earth onto the coffin as it was lowered into the grave.

Among the daughters-in-law of Queen Elizabeth II, only Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York had laid her bouquet on the tomb as her wedding to the Queen’s second son, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, in July 1986 was held at Westminster Abbey.

Diana and Charles were married at St. Paul’s Cathedral in July 1981, the Queen’s youngest son, Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex and Sophie Rhys-Jones were married at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle in June 1999 while Prince Charles’s church’s blessing with Camilla Parker-Bowles happened also at St. George’s chapel.

Read more : Telegraph 

 

 

 

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Edith Cavell – 100 years on: Heroine WW1 nurse receives royal commemoration

Edith Cavell

A British Heroine of WWII

A new memorial to Edith Cavell was unveiled in Brussels

See BBC New for full story

New memorial to Edith Cavell in Brussels
A new memorial to Edith Cavell was unveiled in Brussels

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Edith Cavell’s funeral, 1910’s – Film 1514

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Edith Louisa Cavell (/ˈkævəl/; 4 December 1865 – 12 October 1915) was a British nurse. She is celebrated for saving the lives of soldiers from both sides without discrimination and in helping some 200 Allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium during the First World War, for which she was arrested. She was subsequently court-martialled, found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. Despite international pressure for mercy, she was shot by a German firing squad. Her execution received worldwide condemnation and extensive press coverage.

She is well known for her statement that “patriotism is not enough”. Her strong Anglican beliefs propelled her to help all those who needed it, both German and Allied soldiers. She was quoted as saying, “I can’t stop while there are lives to be saved.”[1] 12 October is appointed for her commemoration in the Church of England, although this is not a “saint’s feast day” in the traditional sense.

Edith Cavell, who was 49 at the time of her execution, was already notable as a pioneer of modern nursing in Belgium.

Early life and career

Cavell in a garden in Brussels with her two dogs before the outbreak of war

Cavell (seated centre) with a group of multinational student nurses whom she trained in Brussels

Edith Cavell was born on 4 December 1865[2] in Swardeston, a village near Norwich, where her father was vicar for 45 years.[3] She was the eldest of the four children of the Reverend Frederick and Louisa Sophia Cavell and was taught always to share with the less fortunate, despite her family’s meagre income.[2] After a period as a governess, including for a family in Brussels 1890–1895, she trained as a nurse at the London Hospital under Matron Eva Luckes and worked in various hospitals in England, including Shoreditch Infirmary. In 1907, Cavell was recruited by Dr Antoine Depage to be matron of a newly established nursing school, L’École Belge d’Infirmières Diplômées, (or The Berkendael Medical Institute) on the Rue de la Culture (now Rue Franz Merjay), Ixelles in Brussels.[1] By 1910, “Miss Cavell ‘felt that the profession of nursing had gained sufficient foothold in Belgium to warrant the publishing of a professional journal’ and, therefore, launched the nursing journal, L’infirmière“.[1] A year later, she was a training nurse for three hospitals, 24 schools, and 13 kindergartens in Belgium.

When the First World War broke out, she was visiting her widowed mother in Norfolk in the East of England. She returned to Brussels, where her clinic and nursing school were taken over by the Red Cross.

First World War and execution

In November 1914, after the German occupation of Brussels, Cavell began sheltering British soldiers and funnelling them out of occupied Belgium to the neutral Netherlands. Wounded British and French soldiers and Belgian and French civilians of military age were hidden from the Germans and provided with false papers by Prince Reginald de Croy at his château of Bellignies near Mons. From there, they were conducted by various guides to the houses of Cavell, Louis Séverin and others in Brussels, and furnished by them with money to reach the Dutch frontier and with guides obtained through Philippe Baucq.[4] This placed Cavell in violation of German military law.[3][5] German authorities became increasingly suspicious of the nurse’s actions, which were backed up by her outspokenness.[3]

She was arrested on 3 August 1915 and charged with harbouring Allied soldiers. She had been betrayed by Gaston Quien, who was later convicted by a French court as a collaborator.[6][7] She was held in Saint-Gilles prison for 10 weeks, the last two in solitary confinement.[3] She made three depositions to the German police (on 8, 18 and 22 August), admitting that she had been instrumental in conveying about 60 British and 15 French soldiers and about 100 French and Belgians of military age to the frontier and had sheltered most of them in her house.[4]

In her court-martial she was prosecuted for aiding British and French soldiers, in addition to young Belgian men, to cross the border and eventually enter Britain. She admitted her guilt when she signed a statement the day before the trial. Cavell declared that the soldiers she had helped escape thanked her in writing when arriving safely in Britain. This admission confirmed that Cavell had helped the soldiers navigate the Dutch frontier, but it also established that she helped them escape to a country at war with Germany.[8]

The penalty according to German military law was death. Paragraph 58 of the German Military Code said; “Will be sentenced to death for treason any person who, with the intention of helping the hostile Power, or of causing harm to the German or allied troops, is guilty of one of the crimes of paragraph 90 of the German Penal Code.”[8] The case referred to in the above-mentioned paragraph 90 consists of “Conducting soldiers to the enemy”, although this was not traditionally punishable by death. [8] Additionally, the penalties according to paragraph 160 of the German Code, in case of war, apply to foreigners as well as Germans.

A propaganda stamp issued shortly after Cavell’s death.

While the First Geneva Convention ordinarily guaranteed protection of medical personnel, that protection was forfeit if used as cover for any belligerent action. This forfeiture is expressed in article 7 of the 1906 version of the Convention, which was the version in force at the time.[9] The German authorities instead justified prosecution merely on the basis of the German law and the interests of the German state.

The British government could do nothing to help her. Sir Horace Rowland of the Foreign Office said, “I am afraid that it is likely to go hard with Miss Cavell; I am afraid we are powerless.”[10] Lord Robert Cecil, Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, said, “Any representation by us”, he advised, “will do her more harm than good.”[10] The United States, however, had not yet joined the war and was in a position to apply diplomatic pressure. Hugh S. Gibson, First Secretary of the U.S. legation at Brussels, made clear to the German government that executing Cavell would further harm Germany’s already damaged reputation. Later, he wrote:

“We reminded [German civil governor Baron von der Lancken] of the burning of Louvain and the sinking of the Lusitania, and told him that this murder would rank with those two affairs and would stir all civilised countries with horror and disgust. Count Harrach broke in at this with the rather irrelevant remark that he would rather see Miss Cavell shot than have harm come to the humblest German soldier, and his only regret was that they had not “three or four old English women to shoot.”[11]

Baron von der Lancken is known to have stated that 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 Cavell should be immediate,[4] denying higher authorities an opportunity to consider clemency.[5][12] Cavell was defended by lawyer Sadi Kirschen from Brussels. Of the 27 put on trial, five were condemned to death: Cavell, Baucq (an architect in his thirties), Louise Thuliez, Séverin and Countess Jeanne de Belleville. Of the five sentenced to death, only Cavell and Baucq were executed; the other three were reprieved.[4]

Cavell was not arrested for espionage, as many were led to believe, but for ‘treason’, though not a German national. [3] She may have been recruited by the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) and turned away from her espionage duties in order to help Allied soldiers escape, although this is not widely accepted.[13] Rankin cites the published statement of M. R. D. Foot, historian and WW2 British intelligence officer, as to Cavell’s having been part of SIS or MI6.[14]

When in custody, Cavell was questioned in French, but the session was minuted in German. This gave the interrogator the opportunity to misinterpret her answers. Although she may have been misrepresented, she made no attempt to defend herself. Cavell was provided with a defender approved by the German military governor. A previous defender, who was chosen for Cavell by her assistant, Elizabeth Wilkins,[3] was ultimately rejected by the governor.[12]

George Bellows, The Murder of Edith Cavell, 1918, Princeton University Art Museum

The night before her execution, she told the Reverend Stirling Gahan, the Anglican chaplain who had been allowed to see her and to give her Holy Communion, “Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.”[15] These words are inscribed on her statue in St Martin’s Place, near Trafalgar Square in London. Her final words to the German Lutheran prison chaplain, Paul Le Seur, were recorded as, “Ask Father Gahan to tell my loved ones later on that my soul, as I believe, is safe, and that I am glad to die for my country.”[citation needed]

From his sick bed Brand Whitlock, the U.S. minister to Belgium, wrote a personal note on Cavell’s behalf to Moritz von Bissing, the governor general of Belgium. Hugh Gibson; Maitre G. de Leval, the legal adviser to the United States legation; and Rodrigo Saavedra y Vinent, 2nd Marques de Villalobar, the Spanish minister, formed a midnight deputation of appeal for mercy or at least postponement of sentence.[16] Despite these efforts, on 11 October, Baron von der Lancken allowed the execution to proceed.[5] Sixteen men, forming two firing squads, carried out the sentence pronounced on her and on four Belgian men at the Tir national[3] shooting range in Schaerbeek, at 7:00 am on 12 October 1915. There are conflicting reports of the details of Cavell’s execution. However, according to the eyewitness account of the Reverend Le Seur, who attended Cavell in her final hours, eight soldiers fired at Cavell while the other eight executed Baucq.[3] Her execution, certification of death, and burial was witnessed by the German poet Gottfried Benn in his capacity as a ‘Senior Doctor in the Brussels Government since the first days of the (German) occupation’. Benn wrote a detailed account titled ‘Wie Miss Cavell erschossen wurde’ (1928), which has recently been translated by David Paisey ‘How Miss Cavell was shot’ in Gottfried Benn, ‘Selected poems and prose’. (Gottfried Benn, Selected poems and prose, Fyfield Books, Carcanet, 2013.)

There is also a dispute over the sentencing imposed under the German Military Code. Supposedly, the death penalty relevant to the offence committed by Cavell was not officially declared until a few hours after her death.[1]

On instructions from the Spanish minister, Belgian women immediately buried her body next to Saint-Gilles Prison.[5] After the War, her body was taken back to Britain for a memorial service at Westminster Abbey and then transferred to Norwich, to be laid to rest at Life’s Green on the east side of the cathedral. The King had to grant an exception to an Order in Council of 1854 which prevented any burials in the grounds of the cathedral, to allow the reburial.[17]

Role in First World War propaganda

An anti-German post-First World War poster from the British Empire Union, including Edith Cavell’s grave

The Cavell Case (1919), an American film on Edith Cavell.

In the months and years following Cavell’s death, countless newspaper articles, pamphlets, images, and books publicised her story. She became an iconic propaganda figure for military recruitment in Britain, and to help increase favourable sentiment towards the Allies in the United States. She was a popular icon because of her sex, her nursing profession, and her apparently heroic approach to death.[1] Her execution was represented as an act of German barbarism and moral depravity.

News reports shortly following Cavell’s execution were found to be only true in part.[3] Even the American Journal of Nursing repeated the fictional account of Cavell’s execution in which she fainted and fell because of her refusal to wear a blindfold in front of the firing squad.[3] Allegedly, while she lay unconscious, the German commanding officer shot her dead with a revolver.[5] Numerous accounts like these stimulated international outrage and general anti-German sentiments.

Along with the invasion of Belgium, and the sinking of the Lusitania, Cavell’s execution was widely publicised in both Britain and North America by Wellington House, the British War Propaganda Bureau.[18]

Because of the British government’s decision to publicise Cavell’s story as part of its propaganda effort, she became the most prominent British female casualty of First World War.[12] The combination of heroic appeal and a resonant atrocity-story narrative made Cavell’s case one of the most effective in British propaganda of the First World War,[18] as well as a factor in enduring post-war anti-German sentiment.

Before the First World War, Cavell was not well known outside nursing circles.[3] This allowed two different depictions of the truth about her in British propaganda, which were a reply to enemy attempts to justify her shooting, including the suggestion that Cavell, during her interrogation, had given information that incriminated others. In November 1915, the British Foreign Office issued a denial that Cavell had implicated anyone else in her testimony.

One image commonly represented was of Cavell as an innocent victim of a ruthless and dishonourable enemy.[12] This view depicted her as having helped Allied soldiers to escape, but innocent of ‘espionage’, and was most commonly used in various forms of British propaganda, such as postcards and newspaper illustrations during the war.[12] Her story was presented in the British press as a means of fuelling a desire for revenge on the battlefield.[12] These images implied that men must enlist in the armed forces immediately in order to stop forces that could arrange the judicial murder of an innocent British woman.

Another representation of a side of Cavell during the First World War saw her described as a serious, reserved, brave, and patriotic woman who devoted her life to nursing and died to save others. This portrayal has been illustrated in numerous biographical sources, from personal first-hand experiences of the Red Cross nurse. Pastor Le Seur, the German army chaplain, recalled at the time of her execution, “I do not believe that Miss Cavell wanted to be a martyr…but she was ready to die for her country… Miss Cavell was a very brave woman and a faithful Christian“.[3] Another account from Anglican chaplain, the Reverend Gahan, remembers Cavell’s words, “I have no fear or shrinking; I have seen death so often it is not strange, or fearful to me!”[5] In this interpretation, her stoicism was seen as remarkable for a non-combatant woman, and brought her even greater renown than a man in similar circumstances would have received.[12]

German response

Unlike the rest of the world, the Imperial German Government thought that it had acted fairly towards Cavell. In a letter, German undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Dr Alfred Zimmermann (not to be confused with Arthur Zimmermann, German Secretary for Foreign Affairs) made a statement to the press on behalf of the German government:

It was a pity that Miss Cavell had to be executed, but it was necessary. She was judged justly…It is undoubtedly a terrible thing that the woman has been executed; but consider what would happen to a State, particularly in war, if it left crimes aimed at the safety of its armies to go unpunished because committed by women.[19]

From the Germans’ perspective, had they released Cavell, there would have been a surge in the number of women participating in acts against Germany because they knew they would not be severely punished. It was up to the responsible men to follow their legal duty to Germany and ignore the world’s condemnation. Their laws do not make distinctions between sexes, the only exception to this rule being that according to legal customs, women in a “delicate” (probably this means “pregnant”) condition could not be executed.[19]

The German government also believed that all of the convicted people were thoroughly aware of the nature of their acts. The court paid particular attention to this point, releasing several accused persons because there was doubt as to whether the accused knew that their actions were punishable.[19] The condemned, in contrast, knew full well what they were doing and the punishment for committing their crimes because “numerous public proclamations had pointed out the fact that aiding enemies’ armies was punishable with death.”[19] The Allied response to this was the same as to Bethmann-Hollweg‘s announcement of the invasion of Belgium, or the notice given in the papers of intent to sink such ships as the RMS Lusitania; to make a public proclamation of a thing does not make it right.

Burial and memorials

Memorial to Cavell outside Norwich Cathedral

A marble statue of Edith Cavell in nurse's uniform backed by a large granite column, surmounted by a figure representing Humanity

Edith Cavell Memorial, St Martin’s Place, London

War memorial in Rue Colonel Bourg, Schaerbeek including Cavell’s name

Monument to Edith Cavell and Marie Depage, Brussels

Interior of the Cavell Van at Bodiam railway station

Cavell’s remains were returned to Britain after the war. As the ship bearing the coffin arrived in Dover, a full peal of Grandsire Triples (5040 Changes, Parker’s Twelve-Part) was rung on the bells of the parish church. The peal was notable: “Rung with the bells deeply muffled with the exception of the Tenor which was open at back stroke, in token of respect to Nurse Cavell, whose body arrived at Dover during the ringing and rested in the town till the following morning. The ringers of 1-2-3-4-5-6 are ex-soldiers, F. Elliot having been eight months Prisoner of War in Germany.” Deep (or full) muffling is normally only used for the deaths of sovereigns.[20] After an overnight pause in the parish church the body was conveyed to London and a state funeral was held at Westminster Abbey. On 19 May 1919, her body was reburied at the east side of Norwich Cathedral; a graveside service is still held each October.[21] The railway van known as the Cavell Van that conveyed her remains from Dover to London is kept as a memorial on the Kent and East Sussex Railway and is usually open to view at Bodiam railway station.

In the Calendar of saints (Church of England) the day appointed for the commemoration of Edith Cavell is 12 October. This is a memorial in her honour rather than formal canonisation.

Following Cavell’s death, many memorials were created around the world to remember her. One of the first was unveiled on 12 October 1918 by Queen Alexandra on the grounds of Norwich Cathedral, during the opening of a home for nurses which also bore her name.[22]

To commemorate her centenary in 2015, work is to go ahead to restore Cavell’s grave in the grounds of Norwich Cathedral after being awarded a £50,000 grant.[23]

During October 2015, a railway carriage (Cavell Van) used to transport Cavell’s body back to the United Kingdom will be on display outside the Forum, Norwich.[24]

The centenary has been marked by two new musical compositions:

Cavell is to be featured on a UK commemorative £5 coin, part of a set to be issued in 2015 by the Royal Mint to mark the centenary of the war.[26]

Other honours include:

Memorials

For places and organisations named after her, see List of dedications to Edith Cavell.