Cashen, Phil: Spanish flu. Part 1

Phil Cashen

Spanish flu. Part 1‘, Shire at War, 29 October 2018 updated

Update 25 April 2019: Glenn Davies in Independent Australia on Sister Rosa O’Kane, who nursed sufferers from the flu. Good general coverage on the epidemic.


A well-researched piece on the flu pandemic as it crept up on Australia (and devastated the world as a whole) in the closing months of 1918 and after. Cashen looks particularly at local reports in the Alberton (Vic) Shire and at news of the spread of the flu further afield (including what look like the efforts of government to curb public panic).

There is more on the flu here and a Google search will deliver lots of recent material. Among books, Laura Spinney’s recent Pale Rider is recommended for its coverage of the world effects. A search of the National  Library’s Trove service under the heading ‘influenza’ for dates October-December 1918 throws up more than 28 000 entries.

Cashen sums up the impact of the flu: ‘The 1918-1919 Spanish Flu pandemic is estimated to have killed 50+ million worldwide. In Australia, estimates have about 40% of the population affected to some degree by the virus and between 12,000-15,000 deaths’. The relative lack of awareness today of the pandemic, compared with the high profile afforded war commemoration, is surprising.

Honest History made use of many Shire at War blogs in our ‘Divided sunburnt country’ series. Phil Cashen reports from Yarram in Gippsland, Victoria. He plans to do another post on the pandemic.

David Stephens

Click here for all items related to: , ,