Directed by: Gustaf Molander| Screenplay: Paul Merzbach Advisor: John Orton Starrring: Cathleen Paget, Birger Holm, Ivor Willington Producer: Oscar Hemberg. Production Company: Isepa (as AB Isepa, Stockholm) Isepa-Wengeroff Film GmbH Country: Sweden, Germany (35mm -151 mins). Source: – The Swedish Film Database

MILITARY SERVICE & WW1 (1909-1925)

In 1909 he joined 9th Norfolk Regiment - popularly known as the 'Holy Boys'.  He served in Gibraltar, Egypt, India and at outbreak of war accompanied them to Mesopotamia. Wounded in 1915, he was sent to India and on his recovery seconded to the Royal Flying Corp.  During his time as an air pilot he saw service with Home Defence Wing - operative over the Eastern Counties - and was a companion of Lt. Robinson (VC) who brought down the first Zeppelin at Cuffley.

Initially appointed a Flying Officer (Observer) in January 1916, he was seconded to No. 30 Squadron, Royal Flying Corp, in Mesopotamia, where the Norfolk Regiment were then serving. While there he received the Order of Karageorge, 4th Class (with Swords) from the King of Serbia. When his old regiment, Norfolk’s were besieged at Kut-Al-Amara. The Siege of Kut Al Amara (7 Dec 1915 – 29 Apr 1916  - under General Townshend). he had the idea of dropping 'Scissor' cigarettes to them in parcels tied with the ribbon of Norfolk Regiment colours. Believed by some to be the first time parcels were dropped by air.

Later issued a Flying Certificate taken on a Caudron Biplane, (RAeSoc) 30 April 1917, he was part of British Home Defence with 39 and 76 Squadrons, before being made up to Squadron Commander (temp. Major) on 9 February 1918, when he assumed command of 199 NTS (National Training Centre) at Retford.

‘He was awarded the Military Cross on December 1918 (Gazette Issue 31043) for actions in Mesopotamis: "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during three months’ operations. He showed splendid qualities as an observer and rendered most valuable service. His intimate knowledge of the country enabled his reports to be most accurate throughout. He was three times in action against enemy aircraft, and on the last occasion returned with twenty bullet holes in his machine, after one and a half drums of ammunition from a Lewis gun had been emptied at the adversary." This was followed by the Air Force Cross in June 1919 (Gazette Issue 31378).  He relinquished his RAF commission in December 1919 and returned to Army Duties with the Norfolk Regiment as Adjutant, retiring in January 1925.’  Sam Curt – Second Lieutenant.

WWI Pilot & Observer flying BE2, BE12 | 1918 - Squadron Commander 199 NTS Retford

AFC War Records

When JOC was wounded in action in 1915, he was sent to Bombay, India for recovery. It was there he met his wife, Eveline Helen Simcox, who was daughter of Arthur Henry Addenbrooke Simcox, Assistant Commissioner, Bombay Presidency India - ICS.  In 1916, at 27, he married Eveline at Holy Trinity Church Upton-on-Severn in the presence of Theodore J Simcox (Rev), T Malcolm Dickinson, his grand aunt, Ada Atherstone Orton and sister Margaret Woolly. The couple had three children and five grandchildren through their daughters, but the Orton surname was sadly not passed on.

“A Keen athlete, he kept wicket and played hockey for Norfolk and as recently as 1924 partnered by his wife won the mixed doubles at Norwich Lawn Tennis Association.” Knights in Whites Major Men – Mike Davage

In World War 11, during the Blitz in London, Eveline was a member of the Dawn Patrol who showed great bravery in the face of danger by manning a mobile canteen for emergency workers et al during bombing raids. Meanwhile, JOC wrote a number of scripts for the Ministry of Information who released films of public notifications such as Goofer Trouble and the recently released Bon Voyage, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, intended for the French Resistance.

After decades of travels across the world with, first the military then film work, JOC finally returned home from California to Eveline in London for his last years, dying of a stroke at 73 years old. JOC was also a visual artist who used pen and chalk for vistas and portraits and along with his photographic compositions, they are marvelled at and treasured by his family.

A Personal Note

JOC Orton's body of work has not until now been been fully defined, partly due to JOC's credits as John Orton in his earlier work, his versatility of roles leading to many online sources such as IMDB and Wikipedia having incomplete listings. For example, JOC co-wrote at least 11 scripts with Val Guest and Marriott Edgar, but often is overlooked in reviews despite actual screen film credits. There are scripts and original stories in family archives also which he is not credited for, eg his original story 'Balloonatics' which became the Crazy Gang's 'Gasbags'. As his grandaughter, I have taken it upon myself to research and set the record straight as much as possible. This task has been greatly assisted by information on the web, youtube and the recent, fabulous restorations of silent films undertaken by The British Film Institute. It has given full named credits and even a complimentary acknowledgement of his creative contribution. A great example of this is 'Shooting Stars' (1928), a brilliant 'lost' film. ' A love triangle on a 1920s film set turns deadly' at the 59th BFI London Film Festival Archive Gala'. JOC co-wrote the stunning scenarios with the much lauded Director Anthony Asquith. The BFI restoration was released at their Film Festival in 2015 - Chrystine Ann Walter, Writer (2018) | Link: BFI Listed Film Credits 2018 .

1903 - 1925 and Dawn Patrol 1940

Photographs: left to right | J.O.C. Orton at 14yo | J.O.C. Orton Pilots Licence photo - 1917 | Eveline & JOC's marriage - 1916 | Eveline (centre) with the Dawn Patrol, London Blitz -1940 | JOC holding his first born, Julian - 1917 | 1925 - V&A Military Portrait (family permission for ©)


(More biographical text - Under Composition).

Below: One of JOC's early 'between-wars' film adaptations is shown below:

Born for Glory aka Forever England (1935).

- Source: YouTube

Directed by: Walter Forde | Written by: C.S. Forester (novel), Screen Adaptation: J.O.C. Orton (Screenplay), Gerard Fairlie (Dialogue) | Starrring: John Mills, Betty Balfour, Barry MacKay, Jimmy Hanley. (70 mins), UK, A Gaumont British production.

Banned in the USA
"When Brown on Resolution (released in the U.S. as "Born For Glory"), the 1935 Walter Forde English high seas World War I (WWI) military thriller ("The Big Parade of the High Seas"; "Story by C.S. Forester") starred Barry Mackay, Betty Balfour, John Mills (very young in this role, in his second year of making movies!), Jimmy Hanley, and Howard Marion-Crawford." - Anthony Slide

A lot of footage has been cut, though the original New York Times review of the film by Andre Sennwald gives the gist of what’s been lost. It seems that in the uncut film Elizabeth (Balfour) discovered she was pregnant, but, even so, refused to marry Somerville (Mackay), insisting they couldn’t be happy because of the class divide. Instead, she told her family she would bring her baby up alone.

This has now all been cut, sadly – it certainly sounds like an unusual take on the “fallen woman” theme. Even as the film stands, though, the romance across the class divide is a striking element. Of course, this is also a theme of another famous film based on a book by Forester, The African Queen, which also has some similarities with this film’s war story.

This on-land section of the film is quickly over, and Albert (Mills) heads off for sea, as one of the crew of an ageing, small ship, the cruiser HMS Rutland. His father is still a serving officer on another ship, but neither of them knows of the other’s existence. The first shipborne scenes are fairly lighthearted, including a sequence where the boys invite some young German sailors aboard. Albert has a boxing match with one of the German lads, Max, and  they strike up an instant friendship. However, even before the pair have finished singing Danny Boy together, the Germans are ordered back to their ship – and by the next scene the First World War is under way. (The actor cast as Max, Howard Marion-Crawford, played Doctor Watson in a 1950s TV series with Ronald Howard as Sherlock Holmes, while Mills played an elderly version of Dr Watson in 1980s film The Masks of Death.)

After the Rutland is sunk, Albert and a gravely ill Ginger are plucked from the sea and rescued by the same German battle cruiser where they have friends among the crew. Max is delighted to see Albert and is soon sneaking him cigarettes and chatting to him, only shutting up when he sees an officer. Strikingly, there’s no hint of any personal enmity among the ordinary sailors, even though you might expect that in a film with such a strong vein of patriotism.

In any case, despite his friendship with Max, Albert is determined to stop the German ship from getting away – and, when it moors off the Galapagos islands for repairs to be carried out, he sees his chance. He escapes to the island of Resolution and hides in the mountains with a gun, picking off the German sailors one by one.

I won’t give away the rest of the plot, but you can probably guess it all. Despite some melodramatic scenes, in particular when Brown is on the island, the film as a whole feels down-to-earth and enjoyable, and Mills is very good as Albert. He has quite a few wordless scenes in the island section, and expresses a lot with just his eyes. These island scenes were directed by Anthony Asquith.  I’m impressed by how much versatility Mills showed in his 1930s films and indeed all through his long career."


'Scenario' is: a written outline of a film, novel, or stage work giving details of the plot and individual scenes; a postulated sequence or development of events; a setting, in particular for a work of art or literature.

Bio Profile

Highlights of JOC Orton's Life: Early Years, Personal Life, Military and Film Careers.

JOC Orton | 1889-1962

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