Suddenly, in early February 1915, the inmates of Fort Brockhurst were struck by influenza. Kittie says the ‘whole regiment’ went down, but presumably this is figurative. Certainly hundreds were affected, so perhaps the whole 9th (Service) Battalion was garrisoned in the Fort. Simultaneously, an epidemic of ‘bad tonsilitis’ broke out.
It is not surprising that diseases spread like wildfire in such an enclosed community. In effect, Fort Brockhurst was now quarantined. The inmates were allowed to go home on sick leave once they were no longer contagious and felt well enough to travel. Unfortunately, ‘not only were there absolutely no “comforts” in Fort Brockhurst’, as Kittie put it, ‘but no ordinary necessities of life and no proper medicines.’ George was extremely ill for about ten days.
On the battlefield, huge progress had been made in the medical services since George’s experience of them at Ypres in October. The 9th (Service) Battalion, however, was part of Kitchener’s New Army and nowhere near as well equipped as a regular unit. It seems doubtful, even, that the Army Medical Corps were involved in treating and containing the epidemics at Fort Brockhurst.
Not unexpectedly, George had something to say about all this when he finally got home.
Next entry: A biographer sighs