2nd Lieutenant Walter Selwyn Orpen

2nd Lieutenant Walter Selwyn Orpen

© Selwyn College Cambridge

© Selwyn College Cambridge

Thank you to Jane Anthony for this research.

We are grateful to Steven John from West Wales War Memorial Project for allowing us to reproduce his work.

“Walter was born on 20 July 1893, the Youngest son of Reverend Thomas Herbert Orpen and Mrs. Amy Octavia Gwyther Orpen, the sister of Lady Philipps of Picton Castle, of 5, Herschel Road, Cambridge. He was educated at Malvern, and at Selwyn College, Cambridge where he had completed his second year when war was declared. He was then in the OTC and was gazetted to the North Staffordshire Regiment in September 1914, before being posted to the 2nd Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers.

He was then posted to the 10th Battalion, which was attached to 52 Brigade, 17th (Northern) Division. Walter landed with the battalion at Boulogne on 15 July 1915. They spent their initial period of trench familiarisation and then holding the front lines in the southern area of the Ypres salient. Here they took part in fighting at the Bluff during February, 1916 before moving south, where they fought at the Battle of Albert, where the Division captured Fricourt at heavy cost during the opening of the Somme Offensive. Walter was killed here by a sniper on 6 July 1916. He was 22 years old, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, France.” West Wales War Memorial Project

From his Times Obituary, 27th July 1916: “Second Lieutenant Walter Selwyn Orpen, North Staffordshire Regiment, who was killed on July 6th aged 23 was the youngest son of the Rev. T. H. and Mrs Orpen of Mark Ash, Abinger, Surrey. He was educated at Malvern, and at Selwyn College, Cambridge where he had completed his second year when war was declared. He was then in the OTC and was gazetted to the North Staffordshire Regiment in September 1914.  After 9 months training he went to the Front being attached to the Lancashire fusiliers.  He had recently been made sniping Intelligence Officer to his battalion, and it was in the discharge of this duty that he met his death instantaneously from a snipers bullet.  His adjutant writes: During the time he has been with us I grew to like him more and more and to respect his many good qualities. He was always cheerful and brave.”

© Selwyn College Cambridge

© Selwyn College Cambridge

Lived                           Abinger, Dorking

Son of                         Reverend Thomas Herbert and Amy Octavia Gwyther Orpen
Brother of                    Lady Philipps of Picton Castle and Cambridge

Regiment                     2nd Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers

Date of Death              6th July 1916
Place of Death             Fricourt, France
Cause of Death           Killed in Action

Age                              23

Memorial                     Thiepval Memorial, France