Roll of Honour

Gunner

William George Macfarlane Orr

Student

William Orr was seventeen in 1916 when he matriculated at Glasgow and enrolled in just one class, French. Little is known of his short student days other than, like many of his cohort, he joined the OTC. Not yet old enough to enlist or be conscripted into the armed services, he would have been preparing for a future that would bring interruption to his education and his life.

Memorial chapel at the University of Glasgow
The Memorial Chapel at the University of Glasgow

William was a Coatbridge lad, born in the town where his father was a banker and solicitor. He was still living at the family home, the British Linen Bank House, with his father, William, and mother, Georgia, when he enlisted as a Gunner in the Royal Field Artillery. He had just reached his eighteenth birthday.

Serving with ‘B’ Battery of the 223rd Brigade, George was one among heavy casualties sustained in the Allied efforts to repel the German Spring offensive on the Somme in 1916. After recovering, he continued to be heavily involved on the Western Front. He was 19 when he died on the 31st May, 1918. The details of his grave are recorded by the CGWC by the name of George, most likely the forename he used to distinguish himself from his father, also William. He is buried at Bagneux British Cemetery in Gezaincourt, where he is remembered on his headstone, ‘Beloved Son of William Orr B.L. Solicitor and Banker, Coatbridge, Scotland’. He is also commemorated on his home town’s War Memorial.

Comments and Citations

University of Glasgow Registry Records R8/5/37/3

University of Glasgow Roll of Honour Ch4/4/2/3/823

CWGC Debt of Honour

Scottish Military Research Group, Commemorations Project (online)