5th March 1919

We started off at 9:30 next morning… The desolation of the villages struck us very much – no fowls, no dogs, no cats, no people.

We got to Brussels at about two and had a long hunt to track down Mrs McDougall, head of the FANYs [First Aid Nursing Yeomanry], at their garage and headquarters. She had gone through the most extraordinary and varied experiences during the war, and I must say I found her interesting… She took us down to a great Belgian garage, where several hundred cars were housed including the FANYs cars. I took two groups – and got the Commandant included. It was a very picturesque sight – such an enormous place.

Brussels

Mrs MacDougall O.C. and Belgian Commandant (IWM)

After this Mrs McDougall took us to see the spot, behind a great Schiesshalle, where Edith Cavell had been murdered. It must have been at very short range. A square white stone marked the place where she fell. We walked towards the butts, through a long cabbage patch, to the place where she was buried – a group of about 40 graves of others who had been shot for similar “crimes”, ie. sheltering British soldiers… I got a plate of her grave and the marble tablet and many wreaths.

 

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Edith Cavell’s grave, 1919 (Cromer Museum)

Every other grave had a photo – generally a postcard – of its occupant pinned to its cross. A very pathetic and every day group of people. There was one other French woman, and in another grave two brothers were buried.

 

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