Influenza Epidemic

Towards the end of 1918 New Zealand was devastated by an influenza epidemic that claimed about 8500 lives nationally. 14 doctors and at least 30 nurses died as a result of contacting the disease while on duty.

Dr Aubrey Short
At Christchurch hospital Dr. Aubrey V Short died from influenza on 15th November 1918 aged 28 years. He had received his medical diploma in 1914 at the outbreak of war and left as a surgeon-captain with the first contingent landing at Gallipolis on the first day of the attack there. Later he served in France until November 1917 having been promoted to Major and appointed Deputy-Assistant Director of Medical Services. He also received the Military Cross. He had returned to New Zealand in January 1918 and joined the staff at Christchurch Hospital in March as a senior house-surgeon.

Hilda Hooker and Grace Beswick 
These two nurses at Christchurch Hospital also succumbed to influenza. Hilda Hooker (right) died on the 21st November 1918 aged 22 as a probationer nurse in her 2nd year of training.  Grace C Beswick (left) died on the 25th November 1918 aged 25. She had just completed her training and was the sister of Mary Beswick, a survivor of the Marquette disaster. Grace and Hilda are both commemorated in the chapel.

Others Commemorated
Margaret H Thompson, who trained at Christchurch Hospital was a World War I victim and two other graduates, Ina G Leech and Agnes E Widdowson died in the epidemic after duty in other hospitals.

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