Tuesday, July 1, 2014


Edith Cavell 1865 - 1915
by Julie Rowe

This month is the 100th year anniversary of the beginning of World War One. And while no one is celebrating, it is something we should all remember—so we don’t repeat it.

The scale of death and destruction during the First World War was enormous. Until WWI, no one had seen submarines, tanks or flamethrowers. Airplanes became a new and more efficient way to attack cities. Better rifles, better ammunition and better-trained men resulted in a war on a much larger scale - more than 70 million military personnel were mobilized.

Yet, despite the size of the war and the intensity of the fighting, there were numerous tales of individual acts of heroism. Many of them largely untold, their heroes unknown. That doesn’t sit well with me. Those stories need to be shared, their lessons learned, and their heroes remembered.

One of my favorite heroic stories of World War One is that of Sergeant York. Alvin York was awarded the Medal of Honor for capturing approximately 135 German soldiers, including officers, with a handful of men. He did it with incredible marksmanship and a deep desire to not kill anyone he didn’t have to. The 1941 film, Sergeant York, is one of my favorite movies of all time. Gary Cooper played Alvin York and won an Oscar for his performance.

Recently, the book, War Horse by Michael Morpurgo, was made into a movie. It tells the story of the First World War from the horse’s point of view, which is at times triumphant and at others anguished. The movie humanizes the war and shows us that soldiers weren’t the only ones who fought and died.

Women contributed to the war effort in many ways, even though they weren’t allowed to be soldiers. Some of these women died for what they believed in. One such woman was Red Cross nurse Edith Cavell. Edith was the matron of a teaching hospital in Brussels, Belgium when the war started. Though the Germans occupied the city and surrounding countryside, she stayed on at the hospital and became an important part of the Belgian underground that formed in the weeks after the beginning of WWI. Using her camera, she forged identification papers for allied soldiers caught behind enemy lines, gave them maps so they could escape to the neutral Netherlands (Holland), and sometimes escorted them to the border herself. The book Silent In An Evil Time – the brave war of Edith Cavell by Jack Batten gives the intriguing true account of Edith’s actions during the war, including details of her arrest by the German political police, subsequent trial on charges of espionage and execution by firing squad. Her death was one of the contributing factors to the USA joining the war on the side of the allies in 1917.

Edith’s story captivated me, and I asked myself: What if Edith had a hero who somehow saved her from execution? This woman gave everything, her skills as a nurse, her career and her life in the effort to save the lives of soldiers who would have otherwise been captured or killed. She deserved a hero. She’d earned one.

This is how my WWI romance series WAR GIRLS was born. Loosely based on Edith’s story, the series is set in German occupied Belgium. The first three books in the series center around a fictitious hospital in Brussels and a group of nurses who are smuggling allied soldiers out of the country.

In the first book, SAVING THE RIFLEMAN, British Red Cross nurse Maria Hunt lives in daily fear that the Germans will uncover her secret: she helps wounded British soldiers escape.

Lieutenant John Bennet is wounded and running out of options. Trapped behind enemy lines while collecting intelligence, he needs to get out of Belgium if he’s going to escape with the information and his life.

Maria is devoted to her patients and her cause, but something else compels her to risk her life for this soldier. While a man of Lieutenant Bennet’s station would barely speak to her in other circumstances, something in his kind eyes inspires a passion deep within her.

But as his injuries worsen, can Maria find the courage to guide him through the war-torn countryside? And should they make it back to England, will their burgeoning desire survive the ravages of war?

Buy for your Kindle: http://amzn.to/OhIDCp
Buy for your Nook or Kobo: http://bit.ly/Tjqhba
Buy on iTunes: http://bit.ly/XNVg2s

Julie Rowe writes medical romance and adventure from her home in northern Alberta, Canada. You can find out more about her and her books at www.julieroweauthor.com or her facebook page www.facebook.com/JulieRoweAuthor or follow her on twitter @julieroweauthor .

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