Edward (Ted) Orton
1918 - 2008
Royal Leicestershire Regiment
Tribute to Ted
It is with great sadness that I must record the death in 2008 year of Ted Orton, formerly with the Royal Leicestershire Regiment, 1939 - 1946.
Ted joined the Leicestershire Regiment from the TA in 1939, leaving almost immediately, for India. The regiment was posted to Malaya, to the northern border with Thailand where they were the trip wire facing the Japanese army poised to invade. This they did on the 8th December 1941. He then fought the full length of Malaya, initially with his regiment and later, after the amalgamation with the East Surrey Regiment, the British Brigade. Wounded, he rejoined his comrades in time to start the defence of Singapore before on 15th February 1942 when, with thousands of others, he was ordered to surrender. He spent the rest of the war in various Japanese prison camps across Thailand and Burma working on the Railway.
He returned home early in 1946 where he picked up on an engineering career begun before the war. He remained in his original house in Birstall until the end. Fiercely independent, only in the last couple of years did he have help around the house. As his son-in-law, I had the privilege of knowing him for over 50 years. During this time he resolutely refused to talk about his wartime experiences. However in the last few years he finally agreed to record his story with the proviso that we did nothing with it until after his death. We now have his own detailed account of those years although he refused point blank to go into the details of his daily life in the camps. In his opinion:-
"Enough's already been written about this already."
The result is over 12 hours of tape recorded memories which we are in the process of transcribing. On completion we hope to post the completed story on this website.
If Ted had a fault it was self effacement. Getting him to tell the story of his life was difficult and even today we're still learning more about him. Perhaps his values and his whole attitude to life are best summed up in his own words, here speaking in his memoirs about why he went to war:-
"In my opinion it was something that had to be done. I don't know why and God alone knows I am no more brave and patriotic that anyone else but it was something that had to be done. At the end of the war when I came out, I always said at least I did my best. I've been under fire, I've been shelled, I've been dive bombed and I've been torpedoed on a ship. I saw The Empress of Asia torpedoed and I helped to save the troops on her. I always said at the end of the war, I did what I could. I did my best."
These sentiments guided Ted throughout his life, to the ultimate benefit of his family and everyone who came into contact with him in his 89 years.
Loved and missed by all his family and friends, Ted was one of nature's real gentlemen.