Tributes to the Norfolk nurse who became a national heroine

Postcard marking the execution of the nurse Edith Cavell

It remains one of the most shocking episodes of the First World War : Edith Cavell, a nurse from Swardeston in Norfolk, executed by firing squad exactly a hundred years ago for helping soldiers to escape occupied Belgium.

She became a national heroine whose death inspired tens of thousands to join up for the war effort.

At seven o'clock in the morning on October 12 1915, Edith Cavell was executed by firing squad. She was still wearing her nurse's uniform.

It happened in occupied Belgium where Edith was a matron working in a Red Cross hospital, treating wounded soldiers from both sides. She also helped 200 Allied soldiers escape via neutral Holland.

The only evidence ever found against her was one tatty postcard sent by an English soldier thanking her for helping him to reach home.

Edith's body wasn't returned to Britain until after the war when her burial at Norwich Cathedral in May 1919 brought the city to a standstill. Earlier there had been a state funeral at Westminster Abbey - on as grand a scale as a Royal wedding today.

Click below to watch Natalie Gray's report.

Edith Cavell's service at Westminster Abbey May 15th 1919 Credit: British Pathe

She was the matron who became a martyr with memorials all over the world.

The irony is that she would probably have hated all the attention.

Headline of the execution of Edith Cavell Credit: British Pathe
The Edith Cavell peak in the Canadian Rockies

There's a peak named after her in the Canadian rockies, a bridge in New Zealand, endless schools and hospitals -- including one in Peterborough.

She was born in the village of Swardeston, four miles from Norwich, the daughter of the local vicar.

The vicarage in Swardeston where Edith Cavell grew up. Credit: ITV Anglia
Laurel Court School in Peterborough where Edith Cavell was a pupil teacher Credit: ITV Anglia

Following her execution she was buried in Belgium but after the war her body was exhumed and brought back to Britain.

Edith could have been buried at Westminster Abbey but her family chose Norwich. The crowds turned out in their thousands . One of the pall bearers was Sergeant Jesse Tunmore of the Norfolk Regiment - one of the soldiers she had helped to escape.

Edith Cavell's grave at Norwich Cathedral Credit: ITV Anglia

By the way people pronouce Cavell in various ways, but Edith's father, a vicar, used to tell his parishoners : It's Cavell as in travel ... not Cav-elle as in go to hell !!