The flu pandemic of 1918, which killed more people than the First World War, was wrongly named Spanish Flu. Research by a team from St Bartholomew's Hospital and the Royal London Hospital suggested the troops and hospital camp at Etaples were the centre of the virus. Records revealed last year suggest that influenza may have arrived with the 96 000 Chinese labourers who were brought in to work behind the lines on the Western Front. But it was the movement of troops travelling bome at the end of World War One which ensured its spread around the world.
Many of the victims were women, particularly those who were nurses. These were three of them.
In the War Plot of Old Stoke cemetery in Guildford can be found the grave of 29 year old Staff nurse Elizabeth Annie Challinor, who after training at Manchester Royal Infirmary, had joined Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service. She was sent to work at the Cambridge Military Hospital in Aldershot where in 1918 she contracted influenza which lead to pneumonia and death. Her father, a widower, had moved down to Guildford from their home in Lancashire and so he arranged for to be buried in the town rather than at Aldershot. The will she had written when joining the service left everything to her sister Edith. This amounted to three pounds nine shillings and sixpence after her board and washing had been deducted. No funds were provided for her funeral as she was considered to be a civilian dying at home.
In the same month, also at the Cambridge Hospital, Aldershot, two young VAD nurses died. Dorothy Jeanette Squire had been born in Bedfordshire in 1888, the daughter of a farmer. By 1911 she was living in Ramsgate, Kent with her widowed mother. Her fellow VAD Muriel Edith Elizabeth Forde Tichbo(u)rne came from Ireland where she was born in 1893. Muriel's father was a Canon in the Church of Ireland and after she died, he arranged for a memorial stained glass window to be erected in the church of St Marks in Armagh. Both Muriel and Dorothy were buried in the military cemetery in Aldershot.
Commonwealth War Graves