No.197 Private Robert Orr
Archibald Orr (Robert Orr’s father) was a carpenter, and was living in Electra Street Williamstown, in 1856.
Ancestry.com: Australian Electoral Roll for 1856
He had married in the previous year: Archibald Orr of Greenock, had married "Jessey Aitken" of Aberdour in Fifeshire, at the United Presbyterian Manse in Napier Street, on 20 April 1855.
The Argus, 25 April 1855, p.4.
(Her surname is different to that on the children's birth certificates, and it is suspected that she had previously married). The children of this marriage were:
- Robert Orr - born 1858 at Williamstown to Archibald Orr and 'Jessie Mitchell' 6140/1858
- James Erskine Orr - born 1861 at Williamstown to Archibald Orr and 'Jessie Mitchell' 1674/1861
- William Alexander Orr - born 1863 at Williamstown to Archibald Orr and 'Jessie Mitchell' 18056/1863
- John Orr - born 1865 at Williamstown to Archibald Orr and 'Jessie Mitchell' 25664/1865
- Helen Gibson Smellie Orr* - born 1868 at Williamstown to Archibald Orr and Jessie Mitchell 13093/1868 ("...Charles, the second son of of Charles Millard, from England, to Nellie, only daughter of the late Archibald Orr, Williamstown." Family notices: The Age, 23 August 1890, p.5.)
Archibald Orr (Robert's father) died in 1872, and was buried in the Williamstown Cemetery on 29 July 1872.
Ancestry.com: Australian Cemetery Index 1808-2007
Jessie Orr, widow of the late Archibald Orr (Joiner), native of Fifeshire, Scotland, died at her residence at 18 Illawarra Street Williamstown, on 31 July 1902.
The Argus, 1 August 1902, p.1.
She was also buried in the Williamstown Cemetery.
When he enlisted in the A.I.F. in 1915, Robert Orr claimed that he had previously been on active service, as an Australian Rifleman in South Africa.
In 1915, he gave his age as 49 years and 6 months, but the record states that his birth was registered in 1858. This would have made him 57 years when he enlisted.
"Robt" Orr married May Moses at Williamstown Victoria in 1901. Ancestry.com
According to a letter from his brother, they had no children.
Between 1912 and 1919, the Electoral Rolls shows that a Robert and May Orr were shopkeepers, living at Station Street in Werribee. It is not known if these were the same people.
A Mrs Orr operated a refreshment room in Werribee in 1913.
Werribee Shire Banner, 6 November 1913, p.2.
Robert Orr swore his oath at Maribyrnong on 5 November 1915 and was immediately appointed to the 1st Squadron, 1st Remount Unit ** at Maribyrnong.
Just one week later, on 12 November 1915, Private Robert Orr, labourer, 49 years of age, single, of Victoria Street Footscray, embarked at Melbourne per H.M.A.T. A67, Orsova, and sailed to Egypt. He was part of the 1st Australian Remount Unit's 1st Squadron.
The Embarkation Roll lists his brother as his next of kin, but at some later time during his military service, his next of kin was amended to his widow: Mrs M Orr, c/- Mr W G Hewitt of Noble Park, Victoria.
Robert's service record does not state what happened to him in Egypt, or what caused his early repatriation to Australia. There is no mention of him in the Unit's War Diary.
Trooper Robert Orr returned to Australia ex Suez, per H.T. Seang Bee on 29 April 1916. He had been overseas for almost six months.
His ship stopped at Colombo on the way back to Australia, and it was here that Trooper Robert Orr was charged with a military crime. On 11 May 1916, while part of a Route March, he left the ranks without permission. Then after being confined to Barracks, he went absent without leave. He was acquitted on the first charge, and fined 2 shillings and 6 pence on the second.
Robert Orr was discharged from the 3rd Military District in Melbourne on 14 June 1916.
Concerning his early death, there is a note in his Service File, stating that he died in India in May 1917. This has not been verified.
In July 1923, the Army wrote to Mrs May Orr, about issuing her late husband's War Medals. Her address was recorded as 383 Clarendon St, South Melbourne, but the letter was returned.
Investigations by the Army revealed that she was living at Noble Park, and her husband's war pension was being paid to her Trustee, Mr W.G. Hewitt.
[Mr William George Hewitt, Corrigan Road, Noble Park, Builder]
As per the Victoria Electoral Roll, 1924, Dandenong.
Name on the Werribee Shire Oak Board: ORR, R
The name "Orr, R., from Werribee", first appeared in the Roll of Honor, Werribee Shire Banner, 13 April 1916, p.1.
A Mr and Mrs Crawford lived in Duncan's Road Werribee in 1917. Her mother was a Mrs Orr. She may have nominated Robert Orr’s name for inclusion on the Honour Board.
Werribee Shire Banner, 6 December 1917, p.2.
Medals and Entitlements:
- 1914/15 Star - No.24032
- British War Medal - No.26262
- Victory Medal - No.26128
* Pioneer Index, Victoria 1836-1888 CD “Smellie” is a typo for “Nellie”
** The First Remount Service had been formed in Melbourne on 21 September 1915. Members of the Remount Service were usually older men, some having served in the Boer War. Maximum age for the unit was 50. The unit was based in Egypt but in 1917 remounts were taken to Palestine for the Palestine campaign. Members of the Remount Service looked after, and trained, the horses acquired to be used by the army before they were sent overseas and also while the horses were overseas. http://exploringmilitaryhistory.blogspot.com/2015/02/remount-units-world-war-i.html
Unit War Diary
Pioneer Index 1837-1888 CD
Federation Index 1889-1901 CD
Edwardian Index 1902-1913 CD
Great War Index 1914-1920 CD
Marriage Index 1921-1942 CD