Monday, 3 March 2014

Spanish influenza epidemic and Coburg Cemetery

Coburg Cemetery gates c.1908. 
Image courtesy Coburg Historical Society

The following servicemen died in the influenza epidemic of 1918/1919 and by arrangement with the military authorities were given an official military burial at Coburg Cemetery. Most of them have no connection to this area.

Died October 1918
4675 Pte William Henry Bullivant
2134 Pte John Burrell
5655 Pte Henry Matson
2893 Sgt R.W. Saunders
5199 Pte Francis Edward Sandie

Died January/February 1919
2913 Pte William Alfred Bushby
5658 Pte Albert Roy Butler
6382 Gnr Kevin McAloon
2536 Pte Wm G. Hefford

Died March/April 1919
2810 Sgt Robert Moore
4790 Pte Thomas F. Donnelly
3755 Cpl Henry Fitzpatrick
1399 Pte Percy Harold Ostler

Died in May/June 1919
2276 Pte Arthur O’Dell Lowes
24420 Driver Christopher M. McKinstry
506 Driver John Sandy

Died in July/August 1919
4559 Sgt Thomas Jones
5450 Pte James Joseph Cleary
367 Cpl Edgar Alfred Bell
3809 Cpl William Robert Fuller
2060 Tpr Athelstane Thomas Rowland
11815 Driver William Ness Law
6286 Pte George John Johnson
Sgt Charles Curtis Dedman (died Sep-Dec 1919)
2536 Pte William G. Hefford

I’m also very interested in learning more about where influenza victims of the time were treated. The soldiers listed above were mostly likely treated in military hospitals, but the Melbourne Hospital and Fairfield Infectious Diseases Hospital also admitted influenza cases, as did the Alfred and St Vincent’s. One of the more unusual venues was Wirth’s Skating Rink (in the area of the present Arts Centre). The Exhibition Building also became a hospital as did Studley Hall in Kew. Schools closed for the first month of the school year and some schools, such as Coburg High School, became impromptu hospitals.

If you have any information on where influenza victims (civilian and military) were treated, what the treatments were and who was involved, especially in the Coburg area, I would be very interested in hearing from you.

If you have further information on any of these men, please contact Friends of Coburg Cemetery, PO Box 329, Carlton South, Vic, 3053 or email:

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