Bovril, Whisky and Gravediggers
The Spanish Flu Pandemic comes to the West Midlands (1918-1920)
Bovril, Whisky and Gravediggers: The Spanish Flu Pandemic comes to the West Midlands (1918-1920)
‘Spanish Flu,’ killed more than 50 million people and affected millions more, across the globe during 1918 and 1919. Soldiers, POWs and the workers in war –industries all fell victim to this pandemic which brought fear and death to villages, towns and cities on the home front, even after the guns of the First World War battlefields had fallen silent.
A failure to recognise and deal with the magnitude and threat the virus posed was exasperated by a wartime shortage of trained doctors and nurses and led to an inadequate medical response to the crisis. There were long queues outside pharmacies and doctors’ surgeries. The despairing population turned to charlatans, patent medicines, food supplements even alcohol to prevent or cure any symptoms of the flu.
Using new research this book provides the first account of the consequences of this pandemic for families and communities in the West Midlands, where schools and cinemas were closed, factories lost production and there was an unprecedented and unmanageable demand for undertakers and gravediggers’ services. For it is in the stories of ordinary people whose lives were devastated by the loss of their husbands, wives, children or parents that the human consequences of this and any future flu-virus can be understood.
Keywords: Spanish Flu, Maggie Andrews, Emma Edwards, Pandemic, Worcestershire
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