Orr, Robert Anderson McMeekin (Robert)
No. 18/1688, 18th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Died of disease on Friday 28 June 1918 (aged 17)
Newtownards (Movilla) Cemetery (Grave 11. 26)
Newtownards Chronicle 6 July 1918 Edition
Robert Anderson McMeekin Orr was born on 30 March 1901 in Mill Street, Newtownards and he was a son of William John and Flora Orr (nee Boyd) who were married on 5 May 1884 in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s). William John Orr from Little Francis Street, Newtownards was a son of James Orr, a dealer. Flora Boyd (aged 19) from Church Street, Newtownards was a daughter of William Boyd, a labourer.
The Orr family lived at 34 Mill Street, Newtownards.
William John Orr worked as a horse dealer and carter and he and Flora had at least ten children including:
Margaret (Maggie, born 14 February 1885 in Mill Street, Newtownards)
Mary Ann (born 1 June 1886 in Mill Street, Newtownards)
James (born 9 September 1887 in Mill Street, Newtownards)
William (born 5 July 1889 in Mill Street, Newtownards)
Rubina (born 6 June 1891 in Mill Street, Newtownards)
Hugh McChesney (born 28 November 1892 in Mill Street, Newtownards)
Samuel (born 9 December 1896 in Mill Street, Newtownards)
Isabella (born 15 October 1898 in Mill Street, Newtownards)
Robert Anderson McMeekin (born 30 March 1901 in Mill Street, Newtownards)
Robert Anderson McMeekin Orr was just three months old when his father died of a bowel obstruction on 16 July 1901 (aged 40) and it is on record that Robert Anderson McMeekin Orr joined the Army twice. On the first occasion, Robert was significantly underage and so he was ‘claimed off’ by his mother. Not to be denied, Robert Orr enlisted again on 26 February 1917 (aged 15) and joined the 18th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles. He declared that he was 18 years old, a labourer and unmarried. It was noted in his attestation papers that he was 5 feet 6¼ inches tall and he cited as his next-of-kin his mother Flora. On more than one occasion the underage Robert Orr went absent without leave from the training camp at Clandeboye to visit his friends in Newtownards and on 3 July 1917 he was transferred to the 20th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles.
On 14 September 1917 at Newtownards, Robert Orr was discharged from the Army on the grounds of being underage (then aged 16 years 168 days).
Robert Orr obtained employment as an auxiliary postman in Newtownards and he died of pneumonia in Newtownards Workhouse Infirmary on 28 June 1918 (aged 17). On his death certificate he was described as a ‘discharged soldier’.
In the 6 July 1918 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle his funeral was reported under the headline Buried with Military Honours. A contingent of military personnel under the charge of Company Quarter Master Sergeant Stevens attended the funeral and Lord Londonderry’s Own Flute Band, of which Robert had been a member, played with the drums draped.
In the house of mourning in Mill Street and at the graveside in Movilla Cemetery the Rev Canon W.L.T. Whatham, Rector of Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s), conducted the services.