Cemetery tour focuses on the Spanish flu epidemic

Sue Nea from The Friends of Broadwater and Worthing Cemetery doing some research for the brand-new Spanish flu-themed tour
Sue Nea from The Friends of Broadwater and Worthing Cemetery doing some research for the brand-new Spanish flu-themed tour

THE Friends of Broadwater and Worthing Cemetery will be holding their next tour at the cemetery in South Farm Road, on Saturday at 11am.

The theme of this brand-new tour is ‘The Spanish Flu Epidemic’ which hit the country in October/November 1918, followed by another serious wave in the spring of 1919.

The Spanish flu initially affected soldiers fighting in the trenches of France. Due to the crowded conditions in which they lived, the disease was rife and from November 1918 to February 1919 it is estimated more than 2,340,000 soldiers and prisoners of war were transported through British and French ports. Many soldiers returning home carried the disease with them back to Britain.

Worthing health reports show 56 people died at home in Worthing and another 27 cases were sent to the isolation hospital at Swandean, of these six died.

More were to die in Worthing in the spring of 1919 when the final wave of the epidemic hit.

So far, the group has identified 42 victims of the Spanish flu who are buried in the cemetery – two nurses, seven soldiers, seven wives of soldiers, numerous children aged from 22 months upwards, a teacher at Ham Road School and various adults aged from 18 to 76.

The tour will not have time to visit all 42 victims’ graves, but will hear the stories of 15 of the victims and the other 27 will be acknowledged and their full stories will be available in our accompanying booklet for £1.

The tour lasts approximately one hour and is just a gentle stroll around the cemetery. It is free and there is no need to book. The group meets by the chapels inside the cemetery’s main entrance just prior to 11am. Refreshments are also free, but a small donation towards the friends’ funds is welcomed.

The Friends of Broadwater and Worthing Cemetery is a group of volunteers who work to preserve and promote the heritage of the cemetery. New members welcome. See www.fbwc.co.uk.

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