Posts Tagged ‘WWI’

Professor John Oxford on the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic

17 May 2010

Contributed by Ida Milne


More than 90 years after the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic killed in excess of 40m people worldwide,  researchers at either side of the Atlantic continue to disagree about whether it actually began in Europe or on US soil. British virologist Professor John Oxford, one of the world’s leading influenza researchers, gave his views on this and the continuing threats posed by other influenzas at a public lecture in the Science Gallery [on Friday 7 May]. Ida Milne reports from the lecture:

Was Patient Zero in the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic really mess cook Private Albert Gitchell, from Fort Riley, Kansas, who fell ill  on 11 March 1918?

This  claim by US investigators has gained mileage in the popular press. The idea of being able to identify Patient Zero in a pandemic which killed more that 50 million people is media-friendly, if romantic.

Professor John Oxford, who specializes in the pathogenicity of the influenza virus, in particular the 1918 strain, believes it more likely that the pandemic began in army clearing houses in northern France in 1917.

He is excited about new historical research which suggests a link between Jeffrey Taubenberger’s claim for an American origin, and his own belief that the evidence points toward an earlier outbreak at the army base at Étaples. Read more

Requiem for the Poppy: Reflections on Remembrance

19 November 2009

Contributed by Sean Brennan

The season of Remembrance is upon us and once again the sign of the poppy challenges both Unionists and Nationalists to remember those ‘faithfully departed’ who died for ‘the Cause’ in that ‘Great War’ of 1914-1918. For many Unionists the act of Remembrance is almost a religious experience as they pay homage to the blood sacrifice of their forefathers, who fell in the fields of Flanders, Gallipoli, Dublin and at Somme. For the Nationalist community who’s father’s, brothers and sons fell along side Irish Unionists all along the Western Front, the act of remembrance is more circumspect and the memory of ‘the fallen’ more sombrely recalled amid accusations of ‘poppydom’ by opponents still angered by the activities of cruel Britannia.

Today, in Ireland, many Nationalists view the poppy as a British war symbol but history shows that in it was French Republican soldiers-during the Napoleonic era who first adopted the poppy to remember their comrades and their citizen’s sacrifice in Modern War. Read more