British servicemen were able to escape to neutral Holland

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The execution of Miss Edith Cavell, the English nurse, on a charge of harbouring in Brussels, greatly shocked the Belgian community in that unhappy land, and they call it the bloodiest act of the whole war.

The Saintly Nurse Executed for Being a Spy

?Nothing but physical impossibility, lack of space and money would make me close my doors to Allied refugees.??

? Edith Cavell

Edith Cavell was a nurse, humanitarian and spy. During the First World War, she helped allied servicemen escape German occupied Belgium; she was eventually captured and executed for treason. Her death by firing squad made her internationally known and she became an iconic symbol for the Allied cause.

In particular, she is remembered for her courage in facing execution with equanimity. This included her famous last words that ?Patriotism is not enough.?

The incident and disgust at her treatment by Germany, played an important role in shaping American public opinion and easing America?s entry into the war, later in 1917.

Edith Louisa Cavell was born on 4 December 1865 in the vicarage at Swardeston, a village located approximately 5 miles south of Norwich, Norfolk. She was the eldest of 4 children, their Father being the local vicar. All his children were taught the principles which their Father held dear: thought for others, self-sacrifice and prayer. Edith was taught by her Father at home, as he was unable to afford either a Governess or a private tutor.

During her teenage years, Edith went to a school called Laurel Court, operated by a Miss Margaret Gibson. During her time at the school, Edith became so proficient in French, that Miss Gibson recommended Edith to the Francois family in Brussels, as a governess to their family. Edith enjoyed her new position, but she felt that as the children were now grown up she required a greater challenge.

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