Friday, 3 October 2014

A breakthrough in the search for gallant Private Orr!

Private TH Orr's bravery is recorded in the
Citations of the Distinguished Conduct Medal
Could this be the the First World War soldier who was lauded in the columns of a Bristol newspaper for 'saving a chum under fire!' on the battlefield?

In my last post I published a verse called 'St Paul's Hero' which praised the bravery of a Private T Orr who risked his life saving a wounded comrade. The verse was discovered on a yellowing cutting that was tucked inside an old bible and I asked if anyone had any idea who the soldier could have been.

He was described in the verse as 'a Glo'ster' (soldier of the Gloucestershire Regiment) and there was some indication that he and his wife ran a business in the St Paul's area of Bristol.

Within hours of my post going up, Sarah Spink, an amateur researcher, got in touch to suggest that the man in question may have been Private Thomas Henry Orr who served with the First Battalion, the Gloucestershire Regiment (Regimental No 7640) and who, according to the 'UK Citations of the Distinguished Conduct Medal, 1914-1920', above, was decorated 'For gallantry in going forward 100 yards, on 19th September, to pick up a wounded scout, and helping to bring him in under heavy fire'.

Sarah's research also showed that Private Orr was born in the Eastville district of Bristol in 1887, and was married in the city in 1913. At the time of the 1911 Census he was serving with the Gloucestershire Regiment and his wife-to-be worked as a confectioner's shop assisant.

If anyone can confirm Sarah's findings, or tell us any more about Private Orr and his connection to St Paul's, I would be delighted to hear from you.

Sarah has also tried to shed light on the identity of RW French, who wrote the verse. 'I have seen several references to a RW French of Bristol on the British Newspaper Archive website, who was on the National Executive of Credit Traders in the 1940s and the Western Executive in the 1930s,' she said. 'Possibly the same one of Bristol who is referred to as being a Presbyterian Church Speaker in 1945.'

This isn't the first time Sarah has helped 'Letters from the Trenches' with its inquiries. Two years ago she managed to track down the family of another WW1 soldier, Ernest West, which resulted in two half-brothers meeting for the first time. I thank her very much for taking such a lively interest.

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