25th November 1918

Spanish flu arrived on Guernsey

The so-called “Spanish” flu, which had nothing to do with Spain, hit hard on Guernsey in November and December 1918. The pandemic, which had first appeared in American barracks, crossed the Atlantic and infected Europe, travelling north to south until it reached Africa.

From there it spread through India and China to hammer the far east. A variety of avian flu, it is thought to have infected almost half of the global population with up to 100 million fatalities. It is said to have killed more American soldiers than the number who died in battle during the First World War.

Spanish flu in Guernsey

In Guernsey, 115 people died of the disease which, according to a briefing document written by the States of Guernsey (PDF), progressed so rapidly that a victim could wake up healthy in the morning but be dead before sundown. The first victim died in August of that year, and the last in April 1919.

Strict measures had to be implemented to minimise the risk of the illness spreading. The Royal Court closed most places where a large number of people might come together, including schools and places of entertainment. It also recommended that residents gargled with Thalasol, which was a disintectant manufactured in St Peter Port from local sea water.


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Other events that occured in November

Car plane air crash caused airport fireball 1st
A hospital worker stood accused of murder 2nd
Sark’s vineyards were vandalised 3rd
The original Torteval church was consecrated 4th
Sibyl Beaumont married Robert Hathaway 5th
The papers were excited by a Guernsey execution 6th
The States agrees to pay the Bailiff 7th
States of Guernsey hired its first independent vet
The Little Theatre was reprieved… for a while 8th
Guernsey was declared free of cholera 9th
Guernsey optician Specsavers was founded 10th
The court considered a Guernsey porn dealer’s testimony 11th
Guernsey Yacht Club was founded 12th
Guernsey aimed for equal adoption rights 13th
Jethou’s tenant fell off his own cliff 14th
Dad’s Army actor John le Mesurier died 15th
A Guernsey recruit regretted signing up 16th
Horticultural painter William Caparne was born 17th
German forces confiscated Guernsey’s radios 18th
A plane crashed on Crevichon 19th
Sark featured in the music charts 20th
Guernsey recruits caused concern in Parliament 21st
First Guernsey competitor took part in Miss World 22nd
A Lancaster bomber crashed on Sark 23rd
Sark women get the right to inherit 24th
Spanish flu arrived on Guernsey 25th
Guernsey held its first full marathon 26th
Admiral Thomas Le Marchant Gosselin died 27th
HMS Boreas sank at Hanois 28th
Radio station Contact 94 went off the air 29th
Royal Guernsey Light Infantry memorial was unveiled 30th