A School at War: Hexthorpe Middle School

October 1914:  School requisitioned for military purposes. Boys re-located to the Mess room in the Great Northern Railway’s Doncaster Works (the Plant), girls are sent to two local Methodist schools

March 1915: School sends 100 ‘comfort packs’ to the Western Front, each containing a knitted woollen article of clothing, a packet of cigarettes and letter from pupils

Charles Torr

Title: Charles Torr
Description: Doncaster Gazette 9th July 1915 by-nc

April 1915: School log-books record that the schools starts to show signs of slipping–“under the present abnormal conditions satisfactory progress is very difficult to attain.”

June/July 1915: School receives the sad news of the loss of former pupils, including: Private Arthur Lawrence, missing in action in the Dardanelles, Private Benjamin Metcalf, died of wounds at Alexandria, and Lance Corporal Charles Torr, killed by the bursting of a shell on the Western Front.

The Head suggests the compilation of a Roll of Honour for old boys serving in the forces and girls engaged in nursing.

August 1915: School moves back to its old premises and performance starts to improve

1916: A measles epidemic hits the school. Staff are also being temporarily transferred to cover other schools and teachers are being called up with the introduction of conscription.  The Headmaster reports some classes having four changes of teachers since the start of term.

October 1916: School moves back to temporary premises

December 1916: The National School War Savings association is set up and special lessons are given explaining the importance and urgency of War Savings. The school raises £117 19s 0d in the first three months of the scheme

January–March 1917: Attendance falls due to cold and snowy weather. It continues to fall later in the year as food shortages mean children are sent to queue for provisions.  Senior pupils are given the job of distributing leaflets explaining the war loan scheme to all Hexthorpe households (about 1500)

May 1917: School moves back to permanent premises

James Crampton

Title: James Crampton
Description: Submitted by Janet Farrar by-nc

July 1917: Former pupil and Military Cross recipient James Crampton visits the school in what the Head Mr Billing, describes as a ‘Red Letter Day’. Children are awarded a half-day holiday in honour of Captain Crampton

November 1917: School moves back to temporary premises

January 1918: Snow and sickness again lead to falling attendance.

April 1918: Egbert the Tank visits Doncaster to raise money for the War Savings Scheme and promote the sale of war bonds. The school buys 318 war bond certificates.

May 1918: School moves back to permanent premises. The Head describes it as being in a ‘dilapidated’ state.

July 1918: The flu epidemic strikes. 128 students are absent. Classrooms are disinfected daily as the epidemic sweeps through the town

11 November 1918: As the war is finally over, the school is closed for six weeks by order of the Ministry of Health as the flu epidemic worsens.  The school reopens on 6 January 1919.

July 1919: Peace celebrations are held across Doncaster. The school is granted £11 12s for sports by the council and the children are given a Peace Tea. A fancy dress parade takes place after the singing of patriotic songs. One extra week is added to the summer break in celebration of peace.