New Forest East


By Paul Whitehouse

Yorkshire Post – 1 June 2010

The almost forgotten exploits of a brave First World War fighter pilot from Malham are to feature in a new historical book. Lieutenant Robert Orr served for just a month with the newly-formed RAF in the summer of 1918 before he was shot down and killed on the Western Front, on the first day of the campaign which brought the war to an end.

By that time, he had already racked up an enviable record of success, scoring enough hits against the Germans in one afternoon to be recognised as a fighter 'ace' in most circumstances. But the 21 year-old's achievements were never recognised by the military authorities and might have been overlooked entirely had they not been documented by his Commanding Officer.

Flight Lieutenant Samuel Kinkead detailed his junior colleague's successes against enemy aircraft and the 'kite balloons' used by spotters to watch activity behind the Allies' front line, but they never caught the attention of senior officers.

They were unearthed as author and New Forest MP Julian Lewis researched a biography on Fl Lt Kinkead. He survived the war, winning a series of gallantry medals, and went on to serve in other campaigns before dying in an attempt to break the air speed record in the 1920s.

The book, Racing Ace, is expected to be published by Pen & Sword next year. Mr Lewis said records showed Lt Orr's home address as Dale House, in Cove Road, Malham; but he had been unable to trace his family. He was killed on 8 August 1918, the first day of the so-called 'Hundred Days' offensive.