By Mary Davis
She worked in several different hospitals in England. Then as a private traveling nurse, she treated individuals in their homes in villages across England. Her patients’ ailments included gout, eye afflictions, appendicitis, pneumonia, pleurisy, and cancer, among others, giving her a wide range of experience. When typhoid broke out in 1897 in Maidstone, Cavell was sent to help. For her work there, she and others were awarded the Maidstone Medal.
In 1906, she took a temporary post at a private nursing institution. Later that year, Dr. Antoine Depage recruited her to be matron at a newly established nursing school in Brussels. By 1910, Cavell launched a nursing journal in Belgium. Within a year, she was training nurses for three hospitals and dozens of schools.
Two British soldiers managed to make their way to the hospital. Cavell hid them for two weeks before helping them get to neutral Netherlands. As other British, Belgium, and French soldiers made their way to the hospital, Cavell aided them in safe passage to the Netherlands, as well as French and Belgium civilians of military age. This scheme had been devised by Prince and Princess de Croÿ of Belgium (brother and sister). The escapees were given money, papers, and guides to get them to safety over the Dutch border.
Cavell helped about 200 Allied soldiers over the course of a year, until August 3, 1915 when she and several others were arrested for harboring Allied soldiers. Confined in Saint-Gilles prison for ten weeks, she spent the last two in solitary confinement. She was tried and found guilty of treason.
On October 7, 1915, Cavell and the others were brought before a court-martial. Cavell herself signed a confession of her actions on October 9 and was sentenced to death. She knew from the onset of her actions that this would be the outcome if caught, and yet she chose to offer aide anyway.
Due to the provisions of the First Geneva Convention, Britain was powerless to do anything to help her. However, the United States had not yet joined the war and tried to put diplomatic pressure on Germany to spare her life. Spain also tried to gain her a reprieve, to no avail.
Chaplain Reverend Horace Gahan met with her the day before her execution. She told him she had come to peace with her actions and fate, and held no resentments. She spoke these words to him on the eve before her execution.
Cavell and one other in the group arrested were put to death by firing squad. Others, including Princess de Croÿ, were held in prison. Cavell was forty-nine.
A shock wave raced around the world at the news of her death, and it united people in pride and grief. It also sharply increased anti-German sentiment. The Allies refused to let her death be in vain and used it in propaganda.
I marvel at individuals like Edith Cavell, who risk their lives for strangers. For my children, grandchildren, family and loved ones, I could see myself doing this, but I don’t know if I’m brave enough or strong enough to do that for strangers.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man to lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
I can see why, two months later, the parents of Edith Piaf (my May post) named their daughter after this brave martyr. World War I was raging, and Edith Cavell’s death was fresh on everyone’s mind.
MRS. WITHERSPOON GOES TO WAR (Heroines of WWII series)
A WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) flies a secret mission to rescue three soldiers held captive in Cuba.
Margaret “Peggy” Witherspoon is a thirty-four-year-old widow, mother of two daughters, an excellent pilot, and very patriotic. She joins the WASP. As she performs various tasks like ferry aircraft, transporting cargo, and being an airplane mechanic, she meets and develops feelings for her supervisor Army Air Corp Major Howie Berg. When Peggy learns of U.S. soldiers being held captive in Cuba, she, Major Berg, and two fellow WASPs devise an unsanctioned mission to rescue them. With Cuba being an ally in the war, they must be careful not to ignite an international incident.
Get it HERE!
Thanks for posting about this brave woman today. I continue to be in awe day by day with these stories of both the incredible hardships people have gone through and yet their bravery and selflessness.ReplyDelete