Sand House connections to the Great War

The Cloisters Tunnel, Sand House, Doncaster

Title: The Cloisters Tunnel, Sand House, Doncaster
Description: The Cloister Tunnel was part of a large network of tunnels running under the land adjacent to the Sand House. Ammunition was stored here during WW1 by-nc

From 1900 until 1934, Doncaster Corporation owned the Sand House. They used it as a home and a depot for the foreman of the Sanitary & Cleansing Department. From 1917 until 1932, the foreman was a man named Thomas Hague, who lived there with his wife, two sons and two daughters. The youngest son was also called Thomas Hague.

Richard Bell, who has spent many years researching the Sand House, met with Thomas Hague (the younger) several times during the 1980s and 1990s. In 1983, he recorded a two hour interview with Thomas Hague. During the interview, Mr Hague recalled how soldiers guarded the ammunition stored in the Sand House’s tunnels during his early days of living there.


Words of Thomas Hague, Sand House resident 1917-1932

‘When we went in 1917 the Army was guarding it.

In the underground passage was ammunition. Boxes of Mills bombs and the long ones with the old rope handle at the end. And we had a guard day and night. They used to guard it back and front and they were at the entrance. And when we used to come in at night we were challenged in the dark, “Halt, who goes there? Friend or foe?” [We’d answer] “Friend”, then [the guard would say] “Advance, friend, and be recognised.”

The Army were using it right through to the Armistice, 1918.’


Military Medal and Military Cross holder

(This content was written by Jason Webb, great-great-nephew of William George Webb, and uploaded by Richard Bell).

William George Webb was born in Waltham, Kent on 27 February 1881. He joined the army on 14 February 1900, serving in the 1st (Kings) Dragoon Guards (KDG). He fought in South Africa during the second Boer War in 1901/02, fighting in the Cape Colony and Orange Free State. He was back in Chatham in 1906 when he married Ada Mitchell at the parish church on 14 July. At the time he was a Corporal and the regiment was based in Hounslow, London.

By August 1908 the KDG were in Punjab, India. The regiment was part of the 8th (Lucknow) Cavalry Brigade. Ada accompanied William to India and  two of their four children were born there. When the First World War started William was still in India with the KDG . The Lucknow brigade arrived in France on 11 November 1914 with the Indian Expeditionary Force. William was, by that time, a Sergeant in the regiment’s Maxim Machine Gun section. He was awarded the Military Medal (MM) for gallantry at Hooge Chateau (near Ypres in Belgium) in June 1915 (London Gazette 27 October 1916) when the regiment was involved in fierce close quarter fighting as the Germans attempted to break through the thin British line.

In October 1915 the British army created the Machine Gun Corps (MGC). At the end of January 1916 the machine gun sections of the three regiments in the Lucknow Brigade were detached from their respective regiments and amalgamated to form the Lucknow Machine Gun Squadron (cavalry had squadrons, infantry had companies). As he was part of the machine gun section William was transferred to the MGC. As the Squadron Sergeant Major (SSM) William was awarded the Military Cross (MC). His citation appeared in the London Gazette on 13 February 1917 and read, “awarded for conspicuous gallantry in action. He commanded his section with great skill for fifteen days. On two occasions he carried messages across the open under very heavy fire”. This action took place in November 1916 in the trenches just outside the village of Hebuterne which is in the Northern Somme region of France (the battle of the Somme started on 1 July 1916 and continued until mid-November 1916). After continued gas attacks and heavy shelling with high explosive and shrapnel rounds William was left to command the two Vickers Machine Guns of 5 section when the section was left without an officer and there was no others to replace him. Conditions were horrendous as the trenches were constantly flooded and collapsing from the relentless German artillery bombardment. The squadron spent a continuous period of 25 days in the trenches during October/November 1916 and the six machine gun sections of the squadron were in constant action providing support to the infantry and firing at laid German targets. William received his medal in June 1917 and continued to serve in France until 14 August 1917. The Lucknow Brigade returned to India in October 1917.

In 1919 the KDG were involved in the third Afghanistan war and saw action in the Khyber Pass. On 16 May the KDG made the last recorded horse cavalry charge by a British regiment. William retired from the army as the Acting Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) on 18 March 1922 with nine medals and an exemplary character assessment. He relocated to Doncaster with Ada and their children only to re-enlist in the Territorial Army in 1923, serving in the Queens Own Yorkshire Dragoons until 1927. Ada gave birth to a fourth child in Doncaster, a daughter named Joan who was born in November 1924.

William Webb MC MM died on 10 July 1934 aged 53 after suffering from tuberculosis. He died at the family home at 149 Carr House Road.

Medals – Military Cross, Military Medal, Queens South Africa Medal with Cape Colony Clasp and Orange Free State Clasp, Austrian Diamond Jubilee Medal, Coronation Durbar Medal, 1914 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal, Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.

As at May 2016, the Friends of Hyde Park Cemetery are liaising with the Victoria Cross Trust and a descendant of William Webb to have his grave restored.

A92 inscription

Title: A92 inscription
Description: by-nc

A92 looking north

Title: A92 looking north
Description: by-nc

Private Henry Senior Hemingway

Henry Senior Hemingway c1910

Title: Henry Senior Hemingway c1910
Description: by-nc

Henry Senior Hemingway was born on 17 October, 1893, the third youngest of eleven children of William and Emma Hemingway, of Victoria Street, Doncaster. Emma was the daughter of Sand House creator, Henry Senior.

Pte H.S.Hemingway served with the 1/5th Battalion, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, part of the 148th Infantry Brigade, 49th Division. He travelled to France in April 1915, with his battalion.

18.04.1915 to 28.04.1915: 148th Infantry Brigade at Le Doulieu (approx. 15km west of Armentieres).

28.04.1915 to 27.06.1915: 148th Infantry Brigade at Fleurbaix (approx. 7km south-west of Armentieres).

13.06.1915: Bomb explosion at bombing school, Bois Grenier (approx.. 6km south of Atmentieres). Explosion killed No.2014 Pte W.H.Scott and injures No.2245 Pte H.S.Hemingway and No.1567 Pte J.Cairns. Pte Scott is buried at Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez. According to CWGC records, Pte Cairns survived the war. (The Doncaster Gazette of 25.06.1915 indicated that he might make a complete recovery from his injuries).

Pte H S Hemingway grave_Merville

Title: Pte H S Hemingway grave Merville
Description: by-nc

14.06.1915: Pte Hemingway died of his injuries at 2nd London Casualty Clearing Station, Merville. Aged 21.

Pte Hemingway is buried at Merville Communal Cemetery. Grave Reference III. K. 5. Merville is approx. 20km south-west of Armentieres.

Henry Senior Hemingway is one of 22 fallen soldiers who were members of the Church and congregation at Priory Place Methodist Church and are commemorated on a Roll of Honour plaque in the downstairs rear chapel of that Church.


Title: P1030019A
Description: by-nc