We tell here the stories of two soldiers who died from influenza.

These provide a poignant reminder of how the epidemic, which was sweeping across the world during final few months of world war one, was increasing the death toll of that terrible conflict.

Private Arthur F White

Arthur was born in Wooburn Green in 1885 the son of James and Sarah White.

By the age of 16 he had followed his father to work as a “Hay Tier”, along with his elder brother William. The family were then living in Wooburn Lane, Loudwater, Arthur also having a younger brother and two sisters.

Arthur married Annie Louisa Janes on September 19, 1908, the couple having three children Ivy, Irene and Daisy.

The family lived with Arthur’s widowed mother, her husband James having died in 1903, and his brothers and sisters in Back Lane, Loudwater. In 1911 Arthur was employed as an “engine driver in a saw mill”.

He then worked as a “stoker and engine driver” at the new Gomme’s furniture factory in Leigh St, High Wycombe.

He enlisted on May 30 1916, was posted to the Devonshire Regiment, and then transferred to their 13th Battalion, a Labour Corps located at No. 30 Camp in Larkhill, Wiltshire.

He spent the next two years in service there, being allowed occasional leave back home in Loudwater. His youngest daughter Daisy was born in April 1918.

In early November 1918 he was home on leave when he contracted influenza, from which his wife and family were suffering at that time.

On November 5 he was admitted to Canadian General Hospital at Cliveden when he was “in a very bad condition suffering from pneumonia”.

His condition soon worsened even further and he died at 1.00pm the following day. The medical report stated that “this death was aggravated by Military Service”, which meant that his dependents could receive a pension from the Army.

His wife Annie received several letters of condolence from Arthur’s colleagues in the army and one from Gomme’s.

She was allowed to arrange his funeral at St Paul’s church in Slough, where they had married just over 10 years earlier. The burial took place at High Wycombe cemetery with full Military Honours.

Private William W Quarterman

William was born in 1894 to William and Annie Quarterman, three of whose sons went to war but only one lived beyond 1918.

After leaving school in 1908, aged just 13, William went to work for the chairmakers R. Howland & Sons in Denmark Street as a French polisher.

He enlisted in the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry on December 11, 1915 and was placed in the Buckinghamshire Battalion, like many men from High Wycombe.

After training he went to the Western Front on May 20th 1916. The Battalion was involved in the Battle of the Somme of that year, and in particular a two-week struggle for Pozieres, a small French village.

On August 15 the Germans began shelling the Battalion’s trenches at around noon and William’s left leg was seriously injured by shrapnel. His leg was cut open and the tibia bone broken.

He was eventually sent back to England to recover. On March 28 1917 he was admitted to the VAD Hospital in the old Lady Verney High School in Wycombe.

The Admission Record stated “patient had discharging sinuses now healed caused by shrapnel wounds to his left leg”.

Although the wound healed, William’s leg was 0.5in shorter than his right leg. It permanently bowed outwards and he could put very little weight on it.

He was discharged from the Army in September 1917 and awarded a disability pension.

Back home with his parents, William managed to secure employment as a ‘Timekeeper’.

Tragically he became a victim of the epidemic and died on November 7th 1918, the influenza having developed into pneumonia.

William was buried in High Wycombe cemetery but although a direct casualty of the war, he is not remembered on any War Memorial.