Flu Dead Buried in Full Army Uniforms (October 1918)

This article, Victims of Flu Buried in Full Army Uniforms, appeared in the October 29, 1918 issue of The Camp Sherman News, the camp news paper for Camp Sherman in Chillicothe, Ohio that was published by the Ohio State Journal for the World War I training camp.

Accessible Archive’s America and World War I: American Military Camp Newspapers collection offers a deeper look into the day to day lives of those in the US military during the first World War.

Victims of Flu Buried in Full Army Uniforms

Rigid Inspection Made at the Morgue Before Bodies Are Released.
Military Escort Provided to Accompany Remains to Place of Burial.

Dressed in new uniforms and placed in plain, but neat black and gray caskets , more than 1050 Camp Sherman soldiers, victims of the influenza epidemic, have been prepared for burial at Chillicothe morgues, under military supervision.

The utmost care has been taken by Captain Sigmond of the hospital and Captain. B. S. Neff, transportation officer to see that everything possible was done to give the men a proper military burial.

Captain Sigmond assisted by Lieutenant O. W. Rogers passed on the embalming of everybody before it could be accepted for shipment.

Captain Neff, assisted by Captains E. B. Howard, A. P. Martin and W. H. Davis, inspected the clothing and general appearance of the bodies and had charge of their proper transportation home.

Check Identity of Men

Each soldier was attired in new under garments, uniform, socks, khaki shirt and leggings.

Before the corpse could pass the regulation inspection the uniform had to be properly buttoned, collar ornaments in place and with the exception of shoes, the body dressed as required by army regulation for a regular inspection.

A corps of 28 soldiers and civilian embalmers were employed to prepare the bodies for burial.

“The embalming was of the highest grade,” Captain Neff stated in speaking of how the bodies were handled during the emergency, and,” he added, “officers had three ways to check the identity of bodies in order to avoid mistakes. Each soldier had to be identified by some member of his company, the identifying soldier’s name being written on the rough box over the inspecting officer’s initials.”

Bodies Escorted Home

Officer victims of the disease were attired in their own uniforms, including shoes, and prepared for burial in a two or three panel couch casket of black or gray.

In a number of instances relatives, called here by telegram by the critical Illness or death of a soldier. accompanied the body home. However, in the majority of cases a soldier escort was sent along with the body, the escort remaining for, the funeral services when invited by the survivors.

For those soldiers who were alone in the world, or whose relatives lived in another country, military funerals were held in Chillicothe.

Military Honors for Dead

At these funerals several bodies were buried at one time, with full military honors, which consisted of being escorted to the grave by the Depot Brigade band, chaplains, firing squad and six pall-bearers.

In several cases the corpse was too large to fit the casket used for enlisted men and a more expensive casket was substituted without additional charge to the parents or government by C. J. Ware, Chillicothe undertaker, who was awarded the government contract of preparing the soldier bodies for burial under military supervision.

The government paid the expense of preparing the soldier bodies for burial, the cost of casket and transportation home.

After the body had been turned over to the local undertaker, the relatives bore the expense.

In the case of those burled in Chillicothe, the government stood the total cost of the burial.

All images included in blog posts are from either Accessible Archives collections or out of copyright public sources unless otherwise noted. Common sources include the Library of Congress, The Flickr Commons, Wikimedia Commons, and other public archives.

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