Mentioned in Despatches
Royal Irish Rifles
Died of disease on Friday 8 April 1921 (aged 28)
Newtownards (Movilla) Cemetery, Co. Down (Grave 5. 137)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
Hamilton Orr was born on 1 August 1892 in William Street, Newtownards and he was the fourth son of David and Catherine (Kate) Orr (nee Whalley, sometimes Whaley, sometimes Wholey) who were married on 26 April 1886 in Ann Street Reformed Presbyterian Church Newtownards. David Orr, a 24-year-old bachelor and a clerk from Thomas Street, Newtownards was a son of Hamilton Orr, a weaver. Kate Whalley, a 23-year-old spinster from Ann Street, Newtownards was a daughter of James Whalley, a farmer.
The Orr family lived in William Street, Newtownards and at Kateville, North Street, Newtownards.
David Orr was an auctioneer and he and Kate had at least ten children:
James Whalley (born 7 May 1887)
John Stevenson (born 16 December 1889)
David (born 20 December 1890)
Hamilton (born 1 August 1892 in William Street, Newtownards)
William (born 18 November 1894 in Upper Mary Street, Newtownards; died of acute diabetes 12 December 1912 aged 18)
Andrew (born 7 July 1896; died 27 December 1896 aged 5 months)
Jane (born 12 July 1897; died 17 April 1980 aged 82)
Charles (born 22 July 1900 in Armstrong Crescent, North Street Hill, Newtownards)
Catherine Mary (born 17 November 1902 in North Street, Newtownards; died of acute diabetes 2 July 1920 aged 17)
Andrew (born 13 December 1904 in North Street, Newtownards; died 3 June 1942 aged 37)
The eight eldest children were baptised in First Newtownards Presbyterian Church. David Orr was known locally as ‘Porch Orr’ (he had added a porch to his house Kateville) and this distinguished him from his brother James Orr who was known locally as ‘Brass Buttons Orr’ (a reference to the brass buttons on his Sanitary Sub-Officer’s uniform). Both David and James had sons named Hamilton who were on active service in the Great War and both cousins died.
Prior to the outbreak of the Great War, Hamilton Orr (son of David Orr) served his clerical apprenticeship in Belfast Ropeworks and he became chief clerk in the dispatch department. Details of his active service during the Great War were published in the 12 April 1921 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle.
On 15 March 1915 Hamilton Orr joined the 18th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles under Colonel R.G. Sharman Crawford DL. As a Second Lieutenant, he was selected for special training in Dublin as a ‘Messing Officer’ and when he returned he took charge of messing arrangements for the 18th Battalion. He was promoted Lieutenant and when the Battalion moved to Salisbury Plain he was transferred to the 52nd Battalion Devonshire Regiment at Cromer in Norfolk. He volunteered for service in Russia, was promoted Captain and was sent out to Murmansk.
Captain Hamilton Orr was one of the last to leave Murmansk on the withdrawal of British troops in November 1919. Captain Orr was twice Mentioned in Despatches, first by Sir William Robertson on 28 August 1919 for services rendered in the Eastern Command and afterwards by Lord Rawlinson on 4 February 1920 for services rendered in North Russia during the period 1 March to 15 October 1919. It was further reported that ‘the rigours of the Russian climate laid the foundation of the illness to which Captain Orr succumbed’.
On 21 May 1920 Captain Hamilton Orr made application for his medals and emblem (having been Mentioned in Despatches) and less than a year later he died. He travelled to Bath for treatment for his illness (diabetes) and it was there that he died on 8 April 1921 (aged 28). His remains were brought back to Newtownards and there was a large representation of military personnel at his funeral. He was buried in Movilla Cemetery.
Captain Hamilton Orr’s funeral was another sad occasion for the Orr family; the previous July, Catherine Orr, one of Hamilton’s sisters had died (aged 17).
Captain Hamilton Orr is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial.
His mother, Catherine, died on 21 January 1933 (aged 69) and his father, David, died on 11 January 1949 (aged 88).