Personal stories, local history and more

"I realise that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards any one"

By megan, Nov 7 2017 09:51PM

A vicar's daughter from rural Norfolk, who pioneered modern nursing, saved lives from both sides without discrimination, and was eventually executed by firing squad - Edith Cavell was an undoubted heroine of the First World War.

Her story has inspired one of our spoken word pieces, written by Chris Bowles, which you may have heard performed if you've been to one of our concerts.

Before the War, Cavell had worked as a nurse both in private homes, and in hospitals in London, and for a short time here in Manchester, at the Manchester and Salford Sick Poor and Private Nursing Institution. In 1907, she took a position teaching at a new nursing school in Brussels. When war broke out in 1914, she was back home in Norfolk visiting her mother, but quickly returned to her clinic and nursing school in Belgium..

She began sheltering British soldiers and helped around 200 escape occupied Belgium via the neutral Netherlands.

Eventually the German authorities caught up with her, and in 1915 she was captured, court martialled and condemned to death.

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."

Edith Cavell was executed by firing squad at 7am in 12 October 1915. She was 49 years old.

Honoured with a state funeral at Westminster Abbey and numerous memorials around the world, Edith Cavell has become a symbol of compassion, faith and duty who continues to inspire over 100 years later.


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