Figure 6.6 Australia and the influenza pandemic of 1918–19. Four troopships which carried ‘Spanish’ influenza from the European Theatre or South Africa to Australia in the aftermath of the First World War. (Upper left) Troopship Devon (foreground) in First World War camouflage with troops aboard, 1915. (Upper right) Troopship Medic. HMAT (His Majesty’s Australian Transports) Medic (A7) departs Melbourne assisted by a tug, and watched by a crowd of well-wishers on the wharf, 16 December 1916. (Lower left) Troopship Boonah (HMAT A36) departing from Brisbane during World War One, 1916. Image shows a large crowd gathered to wave farewell to the troops. The ship is decorated with streamers. (Lower right) Signed photograph of the troopship HMAT A40 Ceramic, the troopship that took the 16th Battalion from Melbourne to Egypt in late December 1914. On this, the Ceramic’s first trip as a troopship, the dangers of epidemics of infectious diseases in confined spaces was illustrated. “The first death of a member of the batallion occurred this day [20 January 1915] when Private C.R…. died of pneumonia following measles” (Longmore, 1929, p. 29), and “On January 20, a sick return showed that there were 10 cases of pneumonia, 13 of measles, 7 of influenza, and 15 with other diseases in hospital, a total of 45 or 1.7 per cent. of the troops on board. During this period of the trip all hands were vaccinated and inoculated, to the obvious disgust and temporary discomfort of the troops” (Longmore, 1929, p. 21).

Sources: (Upper left) National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, UK (Upper right) Reproduced with permission from Australian War Memorial website, photographer Josiah Barnes; (Lower left) Reproduced with permission from John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Australia; and (Lower right) Reproduced from Longmore, C., The Old Sixteenth: Being a Record of the 16th Battalion, AIF [Australian Imperial Force], during the Great War 1914–1918, pp. 18-19, History Committee of the 16th Battalion Association, Perth, Australia, 1929.