She had in fact been recruited by the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) although Edith Cavell turned away from her espionage duties in order to help Allied soldiers escape. Of the 27 put on trial five were condemned to death: Cavell Baucq (an architect in his thirties) Louise Thuliez Séverin and Countess Jeanne de Belleville. However General von Sauberzweig the military governor of Brussels ordered that "in the interests of the State" the execution of the death penalty against Baucq and Edith Cavell should be carried out immediately thus denying higher authorities the opportunity to consider clemency.
Edith Cavell who was 49 at the time of her execution was already notable as a pioneer of modern nursing in Belgium. She is well known for her statement that "patriotism is not enough". Despite international pressure for mercy Edith Cavell was shot by a German firing squad.