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Flu Pandemic Sheff, 1918, The Forgotten People

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As the First World War was drawing to a close, something else started that was more devasting than the war itself. However unlike the people who died in the trenches, those that lost thier lives in this way are not remembered at all.

Some years ago I discovered this grave in City Road that sort of sums it all up.

The neglected condition of the grave somehow represents the tragedy of the victims of the 1918 Flu pandemic.

The satistics for Sheffield alone are shocking.

The 3 people in this grave are part of 1,332 deaths that happened in just Sheffield between October and November of that year.

The inscription on the grave shows that it was not the kind of Flu that old people get today that each winter 100's turn up at doctor's to get a jab against.

For Mabel E Longden the wife of Joseph H Appleyard died aged just 24, four weeks after seeing both her daughters go the oldest first at just 5 (Edna) then on November 2, Mabel aged just 3.

All 3 died at home which was 11 Cross Turner Street. They were probably not in hospital, because they were all full. So much so that the horse drawn ambulances couldn't cope with demand. And of course the doctors and nurses were dying and sick too!

The day after Mabel died (4 Nov) Sheffield Tramways was reported to be "crippled".

It's likely that the grave above was added much later, as the demand would have been heavy. In fact how quick they were burried is up for some debate. As reports in newspapers suggested that bodies were left for days, before being removed. Undetakers also couldn't cope and it was reported that 70 coffins were on order.

At the other Cemetery at Burngreave they had 200 waiting to be intered :o

Death for the victims was quick, but not nice at all, the face going blue, lungs filled with blood. Spreading quickly, for instance at the Workhouse 37 people died.

The advice to avoid catching it was to drink lots of Bovril, which of course sold out! he he

And the final irony of the grave is that Joseph H Appleyard (who's my great uncle) came back from WW1 to find his wife and kids dead :mellow:

The odd thing is that the first victims were soldiers and that it probably started with the war. Transfered from the pigs used to feed the troups.

And even more ironic is that more died of Flu then died in the war. -_-

Yet the Flu victims have been forgotten and the war ones not :mellow:

Extra information from a Local Studies leaflet.

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I guess it spread more easily and had such a devastating effect throughout Europe because so many people would have been in a weakened state caused by poor diet and living conditions during the war

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My grandfather Arthur Swift lived in Netherthorpe on Wentworth st ( demolished in slum clearances of the 1950's) and lost his entire family in the space of one week to this pandemic . His parents died in seperate hospitals on the same day about an hour apart - he was seven at the time ! He was taken in by his mum's best friend - a family called Flint who raised him from then on .

To this day we are still in touch with , and regarded as family by the Flints even though there are no blood ties !

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My grandfather Arthur Swift lived in Netherthorpe on Wentworth st ( demolished in slum clearances of the 1950's) and lost his entire family in the space of one week to this pandemic . His parents died in seperate hospitals on the same day about an hour apart - he was seven at the time ! He was taken in by his mum's best friend - a family called Flint who raised him from then on .

To this day we are still in touch with , and regarded as family by the Flints even though there are no blood ties !

Sorry to hear that " Lostmarbles67" , very sad.

Any relation to Graham?

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Thanks Ukelele Lady - Not Related as Far as I Know !

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Thanks Ukelele Lady - Not Related as Far as I Know !

Just a thought. There was a Graham who lived somewhere at the side of the "tip "

as we all called it, Crooksmoor Road area.

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My grandfather, Fred Salkeld, enlisted into the 1st/4th (Hallamshire) Battalion of the York & Lancaster Regiment in September 1914.  After training at Gainsborough the battalion was sent to 'guard the beaches' at Mablethorpe.  They were later sent to Fleurbaix, France and then, in 1915, ordered to 'hold the front line' in the Ypres Salient. 

He received a shrapnel wound at Ypres in October 1915 and, after recuperation, was sent home in March 1916.  He was attached to J Wood's forge at Wisewood (his previous employment).  He died, a week after his twin brother, Frank, in the flu pandemic on the 4th November 1918.  They were only 35 years old at the time.  

He was buried in a War Grave at Wadsley Church along with his younger sister, Louisa's, husband, George Oscroft Howard (28), who had also served in France and been wounded and sent home.  He too died in the flu pandemic just 10 days after my grandfather. 

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My grandmother would never have the flower, Mimosa in the house. She ,and presumably others of her generation, blamed its import for the outbreak of Spanish flu

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I believe that governments suppressed the news of deaths from flu as it was bad for moral in the final weeks of WWI.  It is often referred to as 'Spanish Flu' because the Spanish government didn't censor the news of deaths as they were not involved in the Great War making them appear as more widely affected.  It's such a shame that so little is remembered about one of the greatest, if not the greatest, tragedies of our time.  I believe that all of our families will have been affected.    

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My Aunty Flo who lived on Platt St told me that funerals were taking place all night, she saw them going up Rutland Rd to Burngreave Cemetery. Her maiden name was Ward, her married name, Appleyard! Don't know of any connection though.

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Is there a list of Sheffield victims of the 1918 flu outbreak anywhere?

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20 hours ago, siren said:

My Aunty Flo who lived on Platt St told me that funerals were taking place all night, she saw them going up Rutland Rd to Burngreave Cemetery. Her maiden name was Ward, her married name, Appleyard! Don't know of any connection though.

I have no Florence Appleyard in my tree. Though I think some of my relations did live in Platt Street.

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7 hours ago, tozzin said:

Is there a list of Sheffield victims of the 1918 flu outbreak anywhere?

Since the numbers of victims are known it's likely that a record of each death in connection with the outbreak was made by the authorities. I should enquire at the archives or local studies about it. 

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3 hours ago, History dude said:

I have no Florence Appleyard in my tree. Though I think some of my relations did live in Platt Street.

That's interesting. 

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3 hours ago, History dude said:

Since the numbers of victims are known it's likely that a record of each death in connection with the outbreak was made by the authorities. I should enquire at the archives or local studies about it. 

Will do.

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