The French version of the site is currently undergoing maintenance work and is unavailable.

Their Great War

Whoever you are, wherever you are, someone like you was affected by the First World War

Gaston de Leval

A Belgian lawyer with a mountain named after him

by Dr Christine Van Everbroeck, Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History, Brussels

Wed 19 March 14

A mountain in Banff National Park, Alberta, CA, was named after Gaston de Leval. Who was he?

He was born in Hodimont in Belgium on 2nd June 1871. In August 1915 a British nurse Edith Cavell was arrested in occupied Belgium for resistance. Gaston de Leval wanted to defend her before German court martial, but the Germans refused. Another Belgian lawyer, Sadi Kirschen, stood up for the nurse, but couldn’t help her avoid the death sentence. Therefore, he was accused by de Leval for not having done all he could to save her.

Escaping occupied Belgium, de Leval travelled through Britain and the USA, proclaiming to be Edith Cavell’s counsel. He was celebrated everywhere.
Back in Belgium after the war, he came to blows with a furious Kirschen in the corridors of the Brussels Law Court. He died in Menton in France on 27th September 1944

Hugh GIBSON, La Belgique pendant la guerre, Paris, Hachette, 1918
Brand WHITLOCK, Belgium under the German Occupation: A personnal Narrative, London, Heinneman, 1919
Pierre DECOCK, Sadi Kirschen, Nouvelle Biographie nationale, T.1, pp.211-212
Sadi KIRSCHEN, Devant les conseils de guerre allemands, Bruxelles, Rossel, 1919
Journal des Tribunaux, 1er janvier 1922, col. 5-9, Affaire Miss Cavell