The AIF Project

Edward Francis ORPIN

Regimental number1801
Place of birth150 Alderminster Road, Bermondsey, London, England
SchoolLondon County Council School, Galleywall Road, Bermondsey, London, England
Age on arrival in Australia25
ReligionChurch of England
Address172 Bondi Road, Bondi, New South Wales
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation32
Height5' 4"
Weight120 lbs
Next of kinFather, E E Orpin, 231 Fort Road, Bermondsey, London, England
Previous military serviceServed for four years in the Surrey Rifles (Volunteer Bn), Territorial Force, London, England.
Enlistment date10 April 1916
Place of enlistmentLiverpool, New South Wales
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit nameLight Trench Mortar Battery, Reinforcement 5
AWM Embarkation Roll number13/130/2
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A67 Orsova on 2 December 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll3rd Battalion
Other details from Roll of Honour Circular

(1) Family remained in England; he migrated alone to Australia.(2) He was shot by a sniper while bandaging a wounded comrade. Attached to the Roll of Honour circular are copies of letters: from O. Buckland ("Old Buck") and W.H. Russell ("Russ), two mates from the 3rd Bn, who had seen him just before going into the action in which he was killed; from Chaplain R. Wilson, 3rd Bn (30 August 1918), who "laid . . . [Orpin] to rest quite close to where he fell . . . close to the village of Chuignes, between it and Cavenne Wood"; from A.L. Burton of the Sydney Mail (formerly 1955 Pte, 3rd Bn), describing Orpin's work in Sydney before the war (Burton apologised for writing badly in pencil "as I have to use my left [hand] owing to loss of the right"] ; two others from his father, giving details of his life in Sydney. (2) Father writes: "It is with mixed feelings one fills in a Return of this nature, sorrow for him who was taken from us, but not thro' disgrace, but thro' helping a fellow comrade while he might have stopped in safety in his trench, but their deeds should not be forgotten by those who come after us. . . ." Before coming to Sydney, Orpin was in Auckland. He tried to enlist earlier but was rejected because his chest measurement was 2" too small. He went to a chest specialist, improved his measurement, but was rejected again, this time because of faulty teeth. Later he tried to join a medical unit, but was put into the infantry. He transferred into a hospital unit, and spent some time at Randwick Hospital. Embarked for Europe as a "bomber", trained on Salisbury Plain, was injured in the March 1918 offensive, and was evacuated to England with a septic heel. Two weeks after returning to the front, he was killed.

FateKilled in Action 23 August 1918
Place of death or woundingFrance
Age at death34
Age at death from cemetery records34
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsAustralian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France

Villers-Bretonneux is a village about 15 km east of Amiens. The Memorial stands on the high ground ('Hill 104') behind the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, Fouilloy, which is about 2 km north of Villers-Bretonneux on the east side of the road to Fouilloy.

The Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux is approached through the Military Cemetery, at the end of which is an open grass lawn which leads into a three-sided court. The two pavilions on the left and right are linked by the north and south walls to the back (east) wall, from which rises the focal point of the Memorial, a 105 foot tall tower, of fine ashlar. A staircase leads to an observation platform, 64 feet above the ground, from which further staircases lead to an observation room. This room contains a circular stone tablet with bronze pointers indicating the Somme villages whose names have become synonymous with battles of the Great War; other battle fields in France and Belgium in which Australians fought; and far beyond, Gallipoli and Canberra.

On the three walls, which are faced with Portland stone, are the names of 10,885 Australians who were killed in France and who have no known grave. The 'blocking course' above them bears the names of the Australian Battle Honours.

After the war an appeal in Australia raised £22,700, of which £12,500 came from Victorian school children, with the request that the majority of the funds be used to build a new school in Villers-Bretonneux. The boys' school opened in May 1927, and contains an inscription stating that the school was the gift of Victorian schoolchildren, twelve hundred of whose fathers are buried in the Villers-Bretonneux cemetery, with the names of many more recorded on the Memorial. Villers-Bretonneux is now twinned with Robinvale, Victoria, which has in its main square a memorial to the links between the two towns.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: Edward Francis and Elizabeth ORPIN, 231 Fort Road, St. James's Road, Bermondsey, London, England
Other details

War service: Western Front

Embarked Sydney, 2 December 1916; disembarked Plymouth, England, 17 February 1917. Transferred to 18th Light Trench Mortar Battery, 1 April 1917. On command at Trench Mortar School, Lyndhurst, 14 May 1917. Taken on strength, 1st Training Bn, Durrington, 21 August 1917. Proceeded overseas to France, 14 October 1917; taken on strength, 3rd Bn, from Reinforcements, Light Trench Mortar Battery, 20 October 1917.

Detailed for duty with 177th Tunnelling Company, 22 December 1917; rejoined Bn, 30 January 1918.

Admitted to 1st Australian Field Ambulance, 15 April 1918 (septic heel), and transferred to 15th Casualty Clearing Station; transferred by 38th Ambulance Train to 56th General Hospital, 17 April 1918; admitted, 18 April 1918. Transferred to England, 20 April 1918, and admitted to CCS, Eastleigh, 20 April 1918; transferred to 1st Auxiliary Hospital, Harefield, 1 May 1918; discharged on furlough, 10 May 1918, to report to No 4 Command Depot, Hurdcott, 24 May 1918.

Marched out from No 4 Command Depot to Overseas Training Brigade, 9 July 1918.

Proceeded overseas to France, 3 August 1918; rejoined Bn, 11 August 1918.

Killed in action, 23 August 1918.

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, ORPIN Edward Francis

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