One hundred years ago today, on 12 October 1915, British nurse Edith Cavell was executed for helping Allied soldiers escape occupied Belgium. Her death became a rallying cry for the Allies.
This 10 foot white marble statue of Cavell stands against a grey granite cross in St Martin’s Place, opposite the National Portrait Gallery, in London. A woman and child at the top of the cross symbolise Humanity, and Britain protecting Belgium. On the woman’s skirt is a Geneva cross, symbol of the Red Cross. It was designed by Sir George Frampton and unveiled by Queen Alexandra in March 1920.
“Brussels, dawn, October 12th 1915” notes the time Cavell was executed. “Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness for anyone”, words she spoke on the eve of her execution, were added in 1924.
Faithful until death, devotion, fortitude and sacrifice are inscribed on other sides of the monument.
Observant folks will recognize the face of Cavell’s statue as my avatar.
British Pathé has posted a vast collection of its newsreels about WW1. You can watch the statue being placed here, and the statue being unveiled here and here.
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