Medals commemorating ‘peace’ and a portrait of Nurse Cavell

Edith Cavell was a British nurse based in Belgium, who heled a number of British and other soldiers to escape and was shot dead by the German occupying force. She is remembered for her words, “Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.”

Wallingford Boys Council School
1919, 15 September

A portrait of Nurse Cavell, purchased by the boys, hung in the hall today.

Windsor Royal Free Boys’ School
15th September 1919

The whole of the boys attended the Town Hall this morning to receive medals commemorating ‘peace’.

Log books of Wallingford Boys Council School log book (SCH22/8/3, p. 76); and Windsor Royal Free Boys’ School (C/EL72/3, p. 214)

Patriotism is not enough

The Maidenhead parish magazine included various inspiring stories arising from the war, some well known today like that of Edith Cavell, other less so.

Sons of the Clergy.

All classes of the community have vied with each other in manifesting courageous self-sacrifice in the nation’s hour of need. But without drawing undue distinctions it is generally admitted that the sons of the clergy have been conspicuous in the Roll of Honour throughout the War. Week after week the long list of names appearing in the Church newspapers bear eloquent testimony to this fact. The work of the clergy in ministering to those left behind in a variety of ways has been of the greatest value.

“How Can I Help England – Say?”

Miss Helena L. Powell, the Principal of St. Mary’s College, Lancaster Gate, has written an earnest and helpful leaflet for children, showing how children can help in the War. It is addressed to the elder children in our Day and Sunday Schools, and copies required for distribution to these may be had free of charge from Miss Edith Neville, Banstead Place, Banstead, Surrey.

A Daughter of the Parsonage.

Edith Cavell, Directrice d’Ecole des Infirmières, Brussels, who was shot by order of Court-Martial in Brussels on a charge of aiding the escape over the frontier of British, French and Belgian soldiers, was the daughter of the late Rev. Frederick Cavell, Vicar of Swardeston, Norfolk. She was formerly a nurse in the London Hospital. In 1907 she went to Brussels, and when the Germans entered the city she refused to leave.

The Rev H. S. Gahan, British Chaplain at Brussels, has given a touching account of her last hours.

“She said, ‘I have no fear nor shrinking. I have seen death so often that it is not strange or fearful to me.’ She further said, ‘I thank God for this ten weeks’ quiet before the end. Life has always been hurried and full of difficulty. This time of rest has been a great mercy. They have all been very kind to me here. But this I would say, 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.’

We partook of Holy Communion together, and she received the Gospel message of consolation with all her heart. At the close of the little service I began to repeat the words ‘Abide with Me,’ and she joined softly in the end. We sat quietly talking until it was time for me to go. She gave me parting messages for relations and friends. She spoke of her soul’s needs at the moment, and she received the assurance of God’s Words as only the Christian can do.”


A fraud and a swindle

Ralph Glyn’s mother, wife of the Bishop of Peterborough, wrote to her son Ralph to tell him of the impact of the execution of Nurse Edith Cavell for helping British soldiers to escape in occupied Belgium had had on recruitment in their area. It probably had a similar effect here in Berkshire. A public school had also set the pupils to making munitions.

Nov. 2, 1915

My own darling

I weary to get news of you, to know how I can get news to you, and parcels to you. For we are arranging how to send you your Christmas things, and I shall send something every week if only you will tell me how it can be done better if the wrong things come along!…
The accounts all point now to pressure tightening at the centre, and the conditions becoming intolerable? And the power weakening on which ultimately the central powers must draw? These are dark days – and the shifting of the struggle where you were prepared to find it shifts, will bring to bear on the final problem, the best united effort. And at least the attention of the best brains will be focussed on the East and its redeeming. The King’s accident, & news of Servia [sic], have filled this week.

Recruiting has been good, and in Leicester very good, and much use has been made of the Cavell tragedy, and yet it seems to me that until we leave it with the men to go as the first armies went, from simple devotion to the service of their country, we shall miss the only lasting and outlasting motive force. Appeals to sentiment and emotion have inevitable reaction, and there is only one hope that the dulled imagination and encrusted selfishness may be stabbed awake by the knowledge of all you are bearing “for England’s sake!! at those fronts” as we call them – covering so much!…

John today has had the operation which had to be for the removal of a bit of diseased bone, & removal too of an old stump of a tooth, so he has gone back to Mrs Samuelson’s hospital, & I have no news as Maysie said she would not telegraph….

I am trying to get together a Workroom for Hospital Comforts, but these idiots have now to climb down and “register”, and are now found out as having no Red Cross work to register, so Northampton shows one large blank in the official book, and I am trying to find out if I can get them to support with funds my effort after they have been joined up. They won’t own they have been irregular and my work meantime hangs fire…

We … called on Head Master of Oundle and find the boys there doing splendid munition work, using all their engineering plant…

And this odious Red X trouble worrying me all the time. Constance Butler suggests my asking for an “Enquiry”, as they have now brought out a Report which makes the matter one for public enquiry, but I think with Dad inclined to be worried it ought to be pressed for by someone else. Much as I long to have the thing put right – it is difficult for me to show up what I consider a fraud and a swindle, & the people here would not care so long as they get credit and come before the public. I hear Lilah Butler and someone else are just taking the matter into their own hands, and are starting workrooms to help, & are registered.

Letter from Lady Mary Glyn (D/EGL/C2/2)