GUERNSEY HISTORY 

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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What else happened in Guernsey in November?

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October in Guernsey through the years…

The first lighthouses are built on the Casquets

30th October 1724

Sir Charles Hayward buys Jethou for £40,000

23rd October 1971

Hitler orders Channel Islands' fortification

20th October 1941

Channel Television sees off rival broadcasters

16th October 1992

Commercial radio station Island FM launches

15th October 1992

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