Hidden Belgium: The British nurse on a Belgian war memorial

Hidden Belgium: The British nurse on a Belgian war memorial

The Brussels sculptor Marcel Rau received many commissions after the First World War. The country needed war memorials in every commune. And Rau carved many in his Brussels workshop, including memorials in Overijse, Halle, Ostend and Vielsalm.

One of his most impressive works stands on a little square between the Ixelles ponds. It is a large stone monument with two figures of dead soldiers supported by winged angels.

The monuments is covered with the names of Ixelles men killed in the war. But one name stands out. CAVELL MISS, it says. The only woman.

Edith Cavell was a nurse in Brussels when the German army occupied the city in 1914. She chose to stay on and nurse wounded soldiers from both sides of the conflict. But she also helped Allied soldiers to escape from behind enemy lines, leading to her arrest and trial on a charge of treason.

Derek Blyth’s hidden secret of the day: Derek Blyth is the author of the bestselling “The 500 Hidden Secrets of Belgium”. He picks out one of his favourite hidden secrets for The Brussels Times every day.

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