Magazine article History Today

May 15 1919: Edith Cavell Reburied in Norwich

Magazine article History Today

May 15 1919: Edith Cavell Reburied in Norwich

Article excerpt

The First World War heroine was executed by firing squad in 1915 for helping Allied servicemen in German-occupied neutral Belgium to escape. As a hospital matron she had not hesitated to help German soldiers as well, on the principle that where a life could be saved it ought to be saved. 'Patriotism,' as she famously said, 'is not enough.' From a German point of view her execution proved catastrophic in terms of propaganda.

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After the war, moves were made to bring Edith Cavell back from Brussels to England. Exhumed on March 17th, 1919, her body was found to be well preserved and the features still recognisable. On May 13th it was taken to the station, escorted by British troops on the initiative of a certain Major B.L. Montgomery (later Viscount Montgomery of Alamein), then to Ostend and from there was taken by HMS Rowena to Dover, where a peal of grandsire triples was rung with all bells muffled bar the tenor. With 5,040 changes, it took three hours and three minutes. …

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