OUR photo this week shows Constable Joseph McKenna wearing a surgical flu mask in February 1919 after the NSW Health Minister mandated the use of masks for police officers on duty. Bathurst's Dr Busby was the local government medical officer responsible for overseeing local regulations.
The pneumonic influenza epidemic, or the "Spanish influenza", as it was also known, started in 1918, the last year of the First World War, and passed through the soldiers in Western Europe in successively more virulent waves.
Despite a swift quarantine response in Australia in October 1918, cases of Spanish flu began to appear in greater numbers in early 1919.
Around 40 per cent of our population fell ill and some 15,000 died as the virus spread throughout Australia.
Some Aboriginal communities recorded a mortality rate of 50 per cent.
Bathurst soldier's story ended in a hospital train at Egypt
In January 1918, the New South Wales Police Gazette related how Constable McKenna engaged in the arrest of Ernest William Stevenson, alias William James Cheers.
The man was charged with wrongfully signing a telegram in the name of Ernest Cowell without his authority.
Cheers was further charged with obtaining a registered letter, sent by post and not addressed to him, from Mary Josephine Walsh, a postal employee, by false pretences. The letter was the property of the postmaster-general.
Cheers was committed for trial on both charges at Bathurst Sessions.
RECENT YESTERDAY, TODAY COLUMNS:
Several members of the Bathurst Police were transferred in August 1918 and Police Trooper Esler was appointed as a racecourse detective.
Constable Mulherrin was transferred to Parkes and Constable Flanagan announced that he would retire to go on the land.
Constable McKenna was involved in searching for two escaped life sentence prisoners from Bathurst Gaol in late December 1918.
The two men were Frank Edward Leigh, an American, and Frederick Gustave Stainer, a Victorian, who had escaped overnight.
Early reports said they had visited Wallerawang before they doubled back towards Glanmire.
The gaol governor, Mr Steele, co-ordinated the recapture of the prisoners.
They were found swimming in the Fish River near Gemalla, about 20 miles from Bathurst. The men were surrounded by some 20 policemen and taken by car back to the Bathurst Lock-up, where they were charged before Mr C. Jennings, SM.
The influenza epidemic was showing signs of waning by the end of February 1919, according to some health authorities.
In mid-April 1919, Constable McKenna learnt that there had been "no fresh cases of pneumonia influenza reported in Bathurst for four days".
A second death had occurred, the victim being John Borin, aged 30. The were nine patients remaining in isolation in Bathurst Hospital.
The policemen soon realised that the flu usually affected healthy young adults, as well as the elderly or those with weakened immune systems.
The strain on the staff of Bathurst Hospital was beginning to tell by late April 1919.
The two nurses in the isolation ward had a particularly heavy task in attending to the 10 patients.
The matron said she would be particularly grateful for any assistance from any Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) representatives.
It was pointed out that they could gain valuable knowledge so they could be prepared to perform duties at the Public School Temporary Hospital.
The Bathurst VAD ladies soon took up the appeal for help in connection with the temporary hospital and epidemic work generally.
A large number quickly notified Miss Mclntosh, the superintendent of the Bathurst VAD, of their willingness to assist in any phase of the influenza work.
Dr Busby had to point out that Bathurst's situation did not warrant any display of hysteria on the part of citizens.
All local doctors had reported having been called during the week to patients who were suffering more from fright than flu, while others had become alarmed to the extent of making themselves ill.
In July 1919, Constable Joseph McKenna, who had been on street duty in Bathurst for nearly three years, was transferred to Lithgow, where he would start his new duty.