In 1920, St John’s College was still in its infancy. The school had been established in 1898 as a parish school of St Mary’s Anglican Church in downtown Johannesburg. Soon afterwards, the social upheaval caused by the Anglo-Boer South African War (1899-1902) – including the evacuation of many civilians from Johannesburg and the deportation of the school’s headmaster by the Boer authorities – had necessitated the closure of the school for some eighteen months.
Contrary to popular belief, the ‘Spanish’ influenza pandemic of 1918 (which is thought to have caused as many as 50 million deaths globally) did not originate in Spain. Historians and epidemiologists are uncertain about the origins of the disease, which killed more people than had perished in the First World War, which was in its final phase when the pandemic struck. Various hypotheses have been advanced to explain the origins and spread of the 1918 flu. For example, it has been posited that the disease originated in military camps in France, the United Kingdom o