Saturday, March 19, 2011

Influenza in 1918

Being a soldier in 1918 and fighting the war in France was scary.  However, it was just as scary to be home.

The Spanish Flu hit Lowell hard.  It mostly hit young healthy people.  It is estimated that one third of the US population had the flu from this epidemic.  Even Woodrow Wilson came down with it.   Somewhere between 50 and 100 million people died worldwide.

Here is the story of Bruno Silk from the Lowell Sun, September 23, 1918

Private Bruno Silk, a member of the 73d Machine Gun company at Camp Devens, is one of the soldiers whoso death is attributed to Spanish Influenza.  Private Silk was 29 years of age. He was inducted into military service July 24. A week ago Saturday he received a pass and came home with his bride of three months, formerly Miss Florence B. Harmon. He was in good health when he reached his home, 24 Hildreth street. The next day, however, he was seized with a high fever and the family physician adjudged the case influenza. Wednesday afternoon symptoms of pneumonia set in and from then on his condition gradually declined until the end came last Saturday afternoon. 
Private Silk is survived by his wife, Mrs. Florence B. Silk, nee Harmon, his parents,  Mr. and Mrs. Fred T. Silk of 67 Nineteenth street: four sisters, Clarice Silk of New Bedford; Mrs. Frank G. Moore of Marlboro; Mrs. Hosmer Sweetser and Mrs. Ada Barker, both of this city; five brothers, Lincoln, Jack, Percy, Miles and Fred.
A brother, Sergt. Gerald T. Silk of Battery F was killed in action only last July and this, fatality came only six days before Private Bruno Silk went to Camp Devens. The death of the two brothers within such a short space of one another, particularly as both were in the national service, makes the case of the most pathetic that has been brought to the public attention for some time.
Private Silk's funeral will be held Tuesday afternoon and will be of a military nature. His former company will attend in a body.


  1. Thanks for posting the story of Bruno Silk i am interested to find out more about the Silk family as they are related.Bruno's uncle was my Great Grandfather
    Have just recently traced the family to America.

    1. Here is a photo of Bruno's brother Gerald who was killed in action in France.