Spanish Flu Pandemic - SICK SOLDIERS

SICK SOLDIERS (Illustration) American History Famous Historical Events Medicine Social Studies World War I Disasters

Living and fighting in trenches put soldiers at-risk for getting sick during World War I.  This photo depicts Australian soldiers located very close to the German line.  Image online, courtesy National Archives of Australia.


When American troops went to Europe, they unwittingly carried with them a virus that would end up killing more people than the weapons of war. Photographs from the national archives depict both the fighting men and their surroundings.

  • Air evacuation, in 1918, was primitive by today’s standards. But then, as now, planes could mean the difference between life and death.

  • Soldiers and French civilians had to wear gas masks to protect themselves from mustard gas).

  • As U.S. troops crowded into confined spaces such as hospitals, trenches and blocked roads (like the ruins of Esnes behind American lines in the Argonne), they spread the flu virus.

  • Americans were sick with the flu in Aix-Les-Bains, France and Hollerich, Luxembourg.

  • Triumphant U.S. soldiers marched through Perth, Scotland in 1918 while others, wounded at the front, were brought back to Souilly, France on September 28, 1918.

The following month, civilians back in the States would endure a horrifying outbreak of the flu epidemic as returning soldiers brought the now-mutated virus home. Much worse than its “first wave” (in the spring of 1918), the Spanish Flu had turned deadly.

Philadelphia, where there were more bodies than coffins, was the hardest hit American city.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Mar 01, 2006

Updated Last Revision: Apr 25, 2015

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"SICK SOLDIERS" AwesomeStories.com. Mar 01, 2006. Feb 24, 2020.
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