History's HEROES? 1865 - 1915

Edith Cavell

Edith Cavell - Timeline

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1863 The Reverend Frederick Cavell arrives in Swardeston, Norfolk, as the parson, with Louisa, his wife.
1865 December 4th - Edith Louisa Cavell is born. She is the eldest child of Frederick Cavell, an Anglican priest, and his wife, Louisa Sophia Warming and born while the family were living in a temporary vicarage in the village.
1866-1881 Edith is educated at home in the vicarage with her younger siblings, Florence, Lilian and John (Jack).
1881 Edith goes to Norwich High School, a day school, for a while. The school is situated in Theatre Street, Norwich, a walking distance from her home of over four and a half miles!
1884 From the age of 16 Edith goes to boarding school in Kensington, followed by Clevedon, near Bristol, and then Laurel Court, Peterborough. There she learns to become a pupil teacher, and also learns French, for which she has a talent.
1886 Edith becomes a governess in Steeple Bumpstead in Essex, where she looks after the children of the vicar. They remember her as great fun. She is then governess, for a short time, to the Gurney children at Keswick New Hall in the next village.
1888 Edith is left a small legacy and decides to travel to the continent. She visits Austria and Bavaria, and is very impressed with a free hospital run by a Dr Wolfenberg. She endowes the hospital with some of her legacy and returns with a growing interest in nursing.
1890-1895 Edith becomes governess to a family in Brussels. Her summer breaks are spent in Swardeston. Here she forms a romantic attachment to her second cousin Eddie. He decides that a nervous condition means he should not marry.
1895 Edith returns to Swardeston to nurse her sick father. The experience of nursing her father convinces Edith that a career in nursing is the sort of profession that she is looking for.
1896 April - After a few months spent at the Fountains Fever Hospital, Tooting, seeing how suited she is to nursing, Edith is accepted for nursing training at the Royal London Hospital under Eva Luckes.
1897 Summer - A typhoid epidemic breaks out in Maidstone, Kent. Edith goes with five other nurses to help. Only 132 people die out of the 1,700 who contract the disease. Edith receives the Maidstone Medal for her work.
1898 After completing her training Edith goes into private nursing. She deals with various cases of pleurisy, pneumonia and typhoid.
1899 Edith becomes a Night Supervisor at St. Pancras Infirmary, a Poor Law Institution for people who are destitute, where about one person in four dies from a chronic condition.
1901 January 22nd - Queen Victoria dies.
1903 Edith becomes assistant matron at Shoreditch infirmary where she pioneers follow-up home visits for discharged patients.
1906 Edith goes to Manchester and Salford Sick Poor and Private Nursing Institution as a nurse at one of the Queen's District Nursing Homes, in a temporary position for three months. The matron becomes ill and Edith takes over the duties of matron. She finds the work hard.
1907 September - Edith returns to Brussels at the request of Dr Antoine Depage to nurse a child patient of his. In October, Depage opens his pioneering 'L'École Belge d'Infirmières Diplômées', based in his Berkendael Institute. He asks Edith Cavell to run it.
1912 Edith's training program produces well qualified nurses. By this time Edith's school is providing nurses for three hospitals, 24 communal schools and 13 kindergartens.
1913 Around this time Edith's training establishment gains more status when Queen Elisabeth of Belgium asks for one of Edith's nurses to treat her broken arm.
1914 June 28th - Archduke Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is assassinated in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Exactly a month later, as a result of the assassination, Austro-Hungarian troops invade Serbia. Edith is in Norfolk, visiting her widowed mother.
August 1st - To support its ally Austria-Hungary, Germany declares war on Russia, Serbia's ally. France, Russia's ally, finds itelf at war with Germany and Austria-Hungary. Edith returns to Brussels, feeling that her nursing skills will be required more than ever.
August 4th - Germany invades Belgium and Britian declares war on Germany. WW1 sees Britain, France and Russia on one side (the Allies), and Germany, Austro-Hungary and Turkey on the other (the Central Powers). Edith stays in Belgium.
August 20th-21st - German soldiers invade and occupy Brussels. The wounded of all nationalities start to pour into Edith's clinic. The clinic becomes a Red Cross Hospital for wounded of all nationalities - the nurses must not take part in the war on either side.
August 23rd - The Battle of Mons begins. The British are heavily outnumbered and retreat. In the confusion, many soldiers are cut off behind enemy lines. Edith hears of Allied soldiers being shot by the Germans, along with the locals who were sheltering them.
1914-15 September - Edith hides two British soldiers for two weeks at the clinic. Later, she is asked to join an underground group to help other soldiers escape to neutral territory. Despite the danger, she agrees.
Edith hides almost 200 allied men at the Berkendael Institute, whilst they are waiting for Philippe Baucq, an architect, to organise guides to take them across the borders.
1915 May 7th - Edith's friend Madame Depage, the wife of the Belgian doctor who initiated the school, is drowned when the Luisitania is sunk by a German U-boat killing about 1,198 of the 1,959 people on board.
July 31st - Philippe Baucq and another member of the escape-route team are arrested, and letters incriminating Edith Cavell are found. A few days later, on August 5th, the German Secret Police arrive at the Berkendael Institute and arrest nurse Edith Cavell.
Around August 8th - After 72 hours' interrogation Edith is tricked into making a confession. The interrogators tell her that they already have the information they need and that she can only save her friends if she makes a full confession. Edith believes them.
August 31st - The American minister in Belgium writes to the German Governor to ask if it is true that Edith Cavell is under arrest. He gets no reply. On September 10th he asks to take up the defense of Miss Cavell: his request is refused.
End of September - From around this time Edith is kept in solitary confinement before her trial.
October 7th - she is taken for trial with 30 others. She freely confesses to helping allied soldiers escape.
October 11th - Edith, Philippe Baucq and three others are found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. Neutral governments like America and Spain make efforts to have Edith's sentence reduced.
The English chaplain, Stirling Gahan, visits Edith and finds her calm when she receives the Sacrament. She tells him she is not afraid and continues: "Standing as I do in view of God and Eternity, I realise that patriotism is not enough, I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone."
October 12th - At 2am Edith Cavell, Philippe Baucq and the three other Belgian men are taken to the Tir National shooting range in Schaerbeek, where they are shot dead.
Edith is buried in a grave marked by a wooden cross next to St. Gilles Prison, on instructions from the Spanish minister, by some Belgian women.
1917 April 6th - USA declares war on Germany.
1918 October 12th - on the third anniversary of her death, a memorial for Edith Cavell is unveiled by Queen Alexandra on the grounds of Norwich Cathedral, near a home for nurses which also bears her name.
November 11th - World War 1 ends.
1919 During May 1919, Edith's body was exhumed at the Tir National in Brussels and a service was held for her which was attended by the King and Queen of Belgium. Her body was then returned to England.
May 19th - Edith's body is taken from Dover, in the passenger luggage van of a train, to Victoria Station. It was then carried, with great ceremony, to Westminster Abbey for a memorial service, attended by many important people including Queen Alexandra, the Queen Mother.
May 19th - During the afternoon, Edith's body is taken by special train from Liverpool Street to Thorpe Station, Norwich, for a burial service at Norwich Cathedral led by Bishop Pollock. She is reburied just outside the east end of Norwich Cathedral in an area called Life's Green.
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