Megaw, William Laurence (No. 269264)

Megaw, William Laurence (Laurie)

Second Lieutenant

No. 269264, Somerset Light Infantry seconded to 1st Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

Killed in action on Thursday 18 February 1943 (aged 18)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Rangoon Memorial, Myanmar (Face 7)

Campbell College, Belfast


The death of Second Lieutenant William Laurence Megaw (No. 269264) was reported in the 27 March 1943 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle under the headline Kircubbin Minister Bereaved.  The Kircubbin minister was the Rev George H. Megaw.  It was further reported that Second Lieutenant Megaw was a son of the Rev William Rutledge Megaw, Minister in Newtownbreda Presbyterian Church, Belfast.  The report stated that Second Lieutenant Megaw was not yet 20, he had joined the Royal Ulster Rifles as a Private on his 18th birthday and was posted to India.  After getting a commission he served with the Somerset Light Infantry seconded to the 1st Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

According to school records, William Laurence Megaw was born on 11 December 1924 and he was a son of Rev William Rutledge Megaw and Mabel Megaw (nee Harpur) who were married by special licence on 30 June 1910 at 17 Chlorine Gardens, Belfast.  Rev William Rutledge Megaw, a Presbyterian Minister in Ahoghill, Co. Antrim was a son of Rev Robert Megaw, a Presbyterian Minister.  Mabel Harpur from Belfast was a daughter of James Harpur, deceased.

The Rev William Rutledge Megaw and Mabel Megaw (nee Harpur) had at least six children:

Ethna Ware (born 10 May 1911 in Gloonan, Ahoghill)

Kathleen Mary (born 6 August 1912 in Gloonan, Ahoghill)

George Harpur (born 11 December 1914 in Gloonan, Ahoghill)

Alan Robert (born 27 February 1919 in Gloonan, Ahoghill)

Colin Rutledge

William Laurence (born 11 December 1924)

William Laurence Megaw attended Campbell College from 1936 until 1940 and played rugby and hockey for the school.  From College records, he joined the 70th (Young Soldier) Battalion, Royal Ulster Rifles on 11 December 1942 – his 18th birthday – and was posted to India.

Second Lieutenant William Laurence Megaw (No. 269264) was 18 when he was killed in action in Burma on 18 February 1943.  His brother, Alan Robert Megaw, was a Captain in the Royal Artillery; his brother, Colin Rutledge Megaw, worked for the Canada Life Assurance Company and his brother, the Rev George Harpur Megaw BA, was Minister in Kircubbin Presbyterian Church.

There was a short tribute in the April 1943 edition of The Campbellian:

‘We regret to announce the death of Laurie Megaw which took place in the Far East. He is the first of those who have been with us in our exile to Portrush to meet his death in the field of battle. He was under 20 years of age. Laurie was one of those perpetually cheerful fellows, not of the scholarship type, but ever ready to oblige when called on and gifted with a fund of commonsense beyond his years. We offer our sincere sympathy to the members of his family’.

Basil White, a fellow Campbellian, wrote:

‘Megaw and I both joined 70th YS Battalion RUR but then went our separate ways. In 1944 I was in command of a road convoy en route from the Bombay area to Calcutta when, on entering Cawnpore, I was stopped by a Regimental Policeman of the Inniskillings. He directed me to the convoy park, and, on the way, I asked him if he knew Second Lieutenant Megaw. I was surprised to learn that he had been Laurie Megaw’s batman (personal servant) and was close behind him when he was killed by a Japanese grenade in the Arakan district of Burma’.

Second Lieutenant William Laurence Megaw (No. 269264) is commemorated in Campbell College, Belfast.