Edith Cavell Monument

This Monument to Edith Cavell is at the junction of St Martin’s Lane and Charing Cross Road, London. She was born in 1865 and after training as a nurse at the London Hospital she became the first matron of the Berkendael Medical Institute in Brussels. When the German Army invaded Belgium in 1914, Berkendael became a neutral Red Cross hospital for wounded soldiers of all nations.  On 5 August 1915, she was arrested by the Germans and charged with having helped over 200 allied soldiers to escape to neutral Holland and was accused of treason. 

Imprisoned by the Germans she was tricked into making a confession and then tried by court martial, and sentenced to death.  She was executed on 12th October 1915 by a firing squad and the execution was widely condemned and used as an instrument of propaganda on both sides. 

The monument in London is by Sir George Frampton (1920). The pedestal beneath the statue of Cavell is inscribed:

The last three lines of the inscription quote her comment to Reverend Stirling Gahan, an Anglican chaplain who was permitted to give her Holy Communion on the night before her execution. When the war ended her remains were returned to Britain. After an overnight pause in the parish church in Dover her 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.  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.

Edith Cavell van restored

There are a number of Edith Cavell memorials around the world, and in South Africa  there is (was?) a street in Hillbrow named after her, and there is also a small memorial to Edith Cavell in Belfast War Cemetery in Mpumalanga.

The late Tony McGregor also photographed a memorial panel to her in the main corridor of Tshwane District Hospital, Pretoria. This image is used with his permission.

DRW. © 2008-2021. Created 01/09/2008. Moved to blog 02/03/2014, updated with more information and 3 more images 20/05/2018, moved to Musings 23/01/2021

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