25th April 1917 Wednesday

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“I wasn’t fit again until 26th April as I had a sharp attack and developed a nasty nasal catarrh afterwards which kept me back. I was extremely comfortable in hospital – well-fed and well cared for. I was allowed out of bed at the end of a week when my temperature settled. I had walks every day into town, and along the promenade with some of the other hospital patients. The weather was generally warm and sunny, so that we enjoyed these walks very much.

A favourite walk was down to the harbour where we watched the French aeroplanes leaving for, and arriving back from their patrols. Another good walk was along the top of the cliffs where one got a grand view of the open sea.”

Today in the 21st century it is the young, elderly and weak who are most at risk from dying from flu. In 1918 the year after Douglas contracted influenza a particularly aggressive strain of the disease was killing healthy young people. This outbreak became known as Spanish flu due to wartime censorship which neutral Spain wasn’t affected by. Their newspapers were free to report the reality giving the false impression that Spain was more severely affected than other regions particularly because of the severe illness contracted by the king Alfonso XIII. The Spanish called it the Naples Soldier. We should also remember that the disease that killed more people between 1918 and 1920 than the whole of World War One in modern times would have been largely controlled by cheap and widely available medicines such as paracetamol.

Find out about our connection with Dr Page and an introduction to his diary here