Edith Cavell's memorial near Trafalgar Square, London (Photo: Centenary News)

Edith Cavell network 'sent Allies secret intelligence' - former UK security chief

Posted on centenarynews.com on 21 September 2015
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There's clear evidence that Edith Cavell's close associates were involved in gathering intelligence, says a former head of Britain's security service.

Dame Stella Rimington, Director-General of MI5 in the 1990s, studied Belgian military archive documents for a BBC radio programme broadcast on September 16th 2015.

She found that secret intelligence information was concealed in the clothing of troops sent back to England during the First World War. 

Edith Cavell, a British nurse working in Brussels, was executed by a German firing squad on October 12th 1915 for helping soldiers escape across the border to the neutral Netherlands.

After the battles of 1914, many wounded soldiers remained behind throughout northern France and in the Ardennes in field hospitals. Other had lost contact with their units

Dame Stella Rimington concluded that Edith Cavell was "aware that key members of her network were in touch with Allied intelligence agencies although the extent of her personal knowledge of espionage remains unclear.

"Her main objective was to get hidden Allied soldiers back to Britain but, contrary to the common perception of her, we've uncovered for the first time clear evidence that her organisation was indeed involved in sending back secret intelligence information to the Allies.

"It wasn't the major part of her efforts, but it did happen."

'Secrets and Spies; The Untold Story of Edith Cavell' was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on September 16th 2015.

More about Edith Cavell's life, work and legacy can be found here.

Posted by CN Deputy Editor

Images: Centenary News