Orr, Hamilton (Hammy)
No. 6795, ‘B’ Company, 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Killed in action on Sunday 15 November 1914 (aged 29)
Rue-du-Bacquerot (13th London) Graveyard, Laventie, France (Grave G. 2)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
Strean Presbyterian Church Newtownards
Family Grave Headstone in Movilla Cemetery, Newtownards
Hamilton Orr was born on 28 December 1884 in Shuttlefield, Newtownards and he was the second son of James and Elizabeth (Lizzie) Orr (nee Dickson) who were married on 19 November 1880 in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s). James Orr from Thomas Street, Newtownards was a son of Hamilton Orr, a weaver. Elizabeth Dickson (aged 23) from Canal Row, Newtownards was a daughter of Francis Dickson, a weaver.
At the time of Hamilton’s birth, James Orr was a Sergeant of Militia. In civilian life James worked as a weaver.
The Orr family lived in Shuttlefield, Newtownards and later at 50 James Street, Newtownards.
James Orr was Sanitary Sub-Officer in Newtownards and an ex-serviceman and he and Lizzie had at least eleven children:
Francis (born 13 September 1881 in Thomas Street, Newtownards)
Ann Jane (born 11 April 1883 in Shuttlefield, Newtownards)
Hamilton (born 28 December 1884 in Shuttlefield, Newtownards)
David (born 17 February 1887 in Shuttlefield, Newtownards)
Lizzie (born 9 August 1889 in Shuttlefield, Newtownards)
Mary (born 5 June 1891 in Shuttlefield, Newtownards)
Catherine (born 3.20 am 18 July 1893 in Shuttlefield, Newtownards)
William (born 3.50 am 18 July 1893 in Shuttlefield, Newtownards; died of whooping cough 1 May 1894)
James (born 28 February 1895 in Shuttlefield, Newtownards)
William (born 1 August 1897 in Shuttlefield, Newtownards)
Sarah (born 10 June 1900 in Shuttlefield, Newtownards)
Hamilton was one of seven of the Orr children who were baptised in First Newtownards Presbyterian Church.
James Orr was known locally as ‘Brass Buttons Orr’ (a reference to the brass buttons on his Sanitary Sub-Officer’s uniform) and this distinguished him from his brother David who was known locally as ‘Porch Orr’ (he had added a porch to his house, Kateville, in North Street, Newtownards).
Both James and David Orr had sons named Hamilton who were on active service in the Great War and both cousins died.
Hamilton Orr (son of James Orr) worked as an apprentice plumber before he enlisted in the Army around 1902. He served in Belfast, Londonderry and Dublin before being posted to India with the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and he served in various stations there for about ten years.
After the outbreak of the Great War, Rifleman Hamilton Orr returned through Aden and he arrived in Liverpool on 22 October 1914. He was granted two day’s leave of absence and he came home for a brief visit to Newtownards. He returned to England to re-join his Battalion at Horsley Park Camp in Winchester and he left there on 5 November 1914 to go to the Western Front. On 10 November 1914, his mother received a postcard from him telling her that he was well.
The next communication that the family received was a letter from Company Sergeant Major C.H. Welsman (No. 6198) informing them that Rifleman Hamilton Orr had been killed in the trenches at Rue Tilleloy on the night of 15 November 1914 (the Battalion had gone into the trenches for the first time that afternoon). Major Welsman assured them that Hammy’s death had been ‘almost painless’. Official confirmation that Rifleman Hamilton Orr had died followed soon thereafter – on 4 December 1914.
Rifleman Hamilton Orr (No. 6795) was 29 when he died and he was buried in Rue-du-Bacquerot (13th London) Graveyard, France.
Hammy Orr’s father, mother, sisters and brothers placed a death notice in the 5 December 1914 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle and it contained the verse:
O God of Love, O King of Peace,
Make wars throughout the world to cease,
The wrath of sinful man restrain,
Give Peace, O God, give Peace again.
His sister and brother-in-law, Lizzie and Alexander Bailie, of Rockfield Farm, Tullynagardy also placed a notice, as did his uncle and aunt, John and Sarah Dickson of Canal Row, Newtownards. Their notice contained the verse:
At rest – all battles o’er,
The weary marching done;
Brave to the last – to his God he passed,
And the victor’s crown has won.
There were three Our Heroes – In Memoriam notices in the 20 November 1915 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle and all three contained verses.
Parents, brothers and sisters at 50 James Street, Newtownards:
If we had seen him at his last,
Or heard his dying moan,
Or caught the last flicker of his breath,
Or held his wounded head;
I think our hearts would not have felt
The blow so very sore,
But God hath ruled it otherwise;
He’s only gone before.
John and Sarah Dickson of 5 Canal Row, Newtownards:
There is a lonely spot in a far of land,
A grave we shall never see;
But as long as life and memory last
We will remember thee.
Lizzie and Alexander Bailie of Brookfield Farm, Tullynagardy:
His trials and his griefs are past,
A blessed end is his at last;
He bore Christ’s yoke and did His will,
And though he died he liveth still.
Jesus said, ‘Thy brother shall rise again’.
Rifleman Hamilton Orr is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial; in Strean Presbyterian Church Newtownards and on the Family Grave Headstone in Movilla Cemetery, Newtownards.