Tag Archives: Bloemfontein

From typhoid to Spanish ‘flu: Conan Doyle and the war on disease

We lost more from enteric [typhoid] than from the bullet in South Africa, and it is sad to think that nearly all could have been saved…..

So wrote Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, physician and creator of Sherlock Holmes in 1924, in his autobiography¬†‘Memories and Adventures’. He is describing his experiences volunteering in Bloemfontein during the Boer War (1899-1902) in a field hospital where:

Coffins were out of the question, and the men were lowered in their brown blankets into shallow graves at the average rate of sixty a day……You could smell Bloemfontein long before you could see it.

Apparently fuelled by a desire to serve his country and a spirit of adventure, he had accepted an unofficial post in a private hospital.  Continue reading