Newry Museum is hosting an event in November to consider the life and activities of Ada Bodart and Edith Cavell.


Ada was the niece of Robert Hogg Doherty, long serving Clerk of Newry Town Commissioners and Urban District Council. She moved to Belgium where she married Louis Joseph Bodart and became acquainted with English nurse Edith Cavell. Together Edith and Ada were part of a secret network which aided Allied soldiers and prisoners of war to escape from German-occupied Brussels into neutral Holland during the First World War. While Edith was executed, Ada was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment with hard labour.

Ada Bodart
Ada Bodart

Dr Robert Whan will talk about the Newry connection and set it within the wider context of the contribution of Newry and Mourne women to the First World War. 

Professor Alison Fell, Professor of French Cultural History at the University of Leeds, will speak about the Cavell network in a talk which will discuss how the network was set up and functioned, the kinds of people who were involved, including Ada Bodart, before moving on to talk about how the network was remembered in France and Germany after the arrests, imprisonments and executions of its members. 

Finally, Dr Claudia Sternberg, a native German (based at the University of Leeds) will talk about Dawn, a black and white silent film about Edith Cavell which was produced in 1928. Written by politician-playwright Reginald Berkeley and directed by Herbert Wilcox, both veterans of the First World War, the film starred stage actress Sybil Thorndike as Cavell and included former network member Ada Bodart in the cast. What started out as a historical motion picture eventually led to real-life drama involving the German Embassy, the British Foreign Office, the Cabinet, and the British Board of Film Censors, as the film was banned for fear of upsetting the Germans. In protest, Ada returned her O.B.E. to the British Government.

The free event is on Saturday 5 November, 11.30am–2pm and includes lunch. It is co-funded by the Living Legacies 1914–1918 First World Engagement Centre at Queen’s University, Belfast and the Gateways to the First World War Centre based at the University of Kent. Pre-booking is essential.

Places can be reserved by emailing or calling 028 3031 3173. 

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