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History, Reference, Research, and GrogTalk => Military (and other) History => Topic started by: airboy on December 31, 2020, 09:26:03 AM

Title: WW1 Cause of Death
Post by: airboy on December 31, 2020, 09:26:03 AM
There was an interesting, one page article by Dave Schroeder in the July-August Strategy and Tactics on deaths in WW1.

The Spanish Flu was especially lethal to 20-40 year olds with death caused by an over-reaction by a strong immune system.  This is opposite of the current plague.  The end of the War in 1919 caused a huge spread of the Spanish Flu in the USA.  This was from the troops returning from Europe and homecoming parades for the returning troops.  There were about 1.2 million US military personnel in Europe at the end of 1918.  The Western Front became a global incubator and distribution point for the Global pandemic. 

The UK and France had a lot of colonial or commonwealth troops in Europe - which helped spread the disease throughout the world.  There were no passenger aircraft to speak of in 1919, but the ships took the Spanish Flu everywhere.

It is estimated that within two years the entire world population was exposed to the Spanish Flu with 500 million becoming sick.  This works out to about 25% of the Worlds population getting ill with the Spanish Flu between 1918 to 1919.  50 million died - greater than the military and civilian casualties from WW1.  This is a much greater fatality rate than the current plague if you consider the much smaller world population back in 1918-1919.

The worst affected areas were the less affluent parts of the world.  Germany and Austria-Hungary were especially hard hit because their civilian population was malnourished due to the effective British Naval Blockade.  In the USA at least, there is an emphasis on German Submarine Warfare as an attempted blockade on the UK and France - but the subs were much less effective than the British Fleet at interdiction of shipping.