Sutton Veny Graveyard

Effects of Spanish Flu

If you are asked ‘what killed 50 million people just before 1920 the answer is not World War One. It is Spanish Flu.

It was a different world when the ANZACS came over here to fight in World War One.  Louis Bleriot’s rather shaky aeroplane had not long crossed the English Channel. It was only after the end of the war that Alcock and Brown managed to get a plane across the Atlantic – and that by only a whisker landing ignominiously in Derrigimlagh Bog in Connemara, Ireland.

Soldiers from Australia and New Zealand had to travel long journeys on ocean going ships to reach Europe. It was something people just didn’t do and that meant that most of our Southern Hemisphere fellows had never encountered anything like Spanish Flu and they hadn’t developed antibodies to help fight off such infections.

Sad to say they perished in droves throughout 1918 and 1919.

Some of them chanced to be in Wiltshire and are buried in the churchyard at Sutton Veny.

image002This burial ground has 169 war  graves of which more than 140 are of Australians. A goodly 100 of these succumbed to the flu pandemic which swept across Wiltshire through late 1918 and 1919.

To me there is something particularly poignant about a family man – and clearly a successful soldier for he had earned a Military medal, coming to the end of his life on the very day the armistice was signed.

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His wife probably had to pay for the message at the bottom.

There is also something particularly poignant about a teenager laying down his life, quite some time after the war itself had ended.

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Again an extra message has been paid for by a grieving family.

And of course the whole graveyard is poignant and redolent of the futility of that war and maybe wars in general.

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How sad that these young men and women had to die far from home and loved ones.

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2 Responses to “Sutton Veny Graveyard”

  1. Thom Hickey Says:

    Thanks – informative and moving. Thom.

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