Search our records : William Robert Orley

Surname: Orley
Forename(s): William Robert
Service Number: 188973
Force: Royal Navy
Unit: HMS Defence
Date of Death: 31st August 1916
Where Buried / Commemorated: No grave but the sea
Parents: Samuel and Christiana Orley
Home address: Fore Street, Beer, Devon

William Robert Orley

Able Seaman 188973 HMS Defence Royal Navy Died 31st May 1916 aged 37 Son of Samuel and Christiania Orley of Beer. Husband of Rose Ellen Orley of Fore Street, Beer.

Commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial for those officers and ratings of the port who have no grave but the sea.

William Robert Orley was born in Beer in 1879 (not 1887 as recorded on his Seaman's Record of Service), the third son of Samuel and Christina Orley, who, at the time of the 1891 census, lived in Long Hill .  Samuel was a farm labourer who was born in Beer, while his wife was born in Axmouth.  They had four other sons, Richard and Walter (who were older than Willliam), George and Albert . 

William  joined the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class on 12th June 1896, and trained on HMS Boscawen, a 19th century warship used as a training ship, and permanently moored in Portland harbour.  He became a Boy 1st Class the following year, and an Ordinary Seaman in February 1899 .  He then became an Able Seaman in 1900.

After a series of shore postings at Devonport, he joined the depot ship HMS Tenedos in 1904.   The following year he joined the Devonshire class cruiser HMS Carnarvon, which was then in the 3rd Cruiser Squadron, part of the Mediterranean Fleet.  He remained on Carnarvon until April 1907, when  he returned to shore postings at Devonport. 

In 1909 he joined the Drake class cruiser HMS Leviathan, which had a crew of 900.  After spells on the gunboat HMS Algerine and the battleship HMS Majestic (part of the Home Fleet, based at Plymouth), William  joined the cruiser HMS Defence on 2nd September 1913, the same day as William Mutter.

Please see the panel on HMS Defence and the Battle of Jutland.