In memoriam

Private Richard William Megahey

 

 

Richard William (Billy) Megahey (also spelt McGahey) was born on 15 March 1897 at Rossgweer, Irvinestown, County Fermanagh, the third of 12 children of rural labourer Richard Megahey and his wife Mary Ellen (formerly Kirk). In 1902 or 1903 the family moved to the vicinity of Blacklion in County Cavan, where Billy's father worked as a herd. In 1911 they were living at Kinnabo.

Megahey enlisted in the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron at Enniskillen between 31 August and 15 September 1915 (No. UD/292). He embarked for France as a reinforcement for the squadron in the second half of 1916 or first half of 1917.

In June 1916 the Inniskilling squadron had joined with C and F Squadrons of the North Irish Horse to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps until August 1917, when orders came that the regiment would be dismounted and the men transferred to the infantry. Megahey was one of 70 men given the job of conducting the regiment's horses to Egypt. They embarked from Marseilles on board HMT Bohemian on 25 August. After a month at Alexandria they returned to France, through Italy. On 5 October they arrived at the 36th (Ulster) Division Infantry Base Depot at Harfleur for infantry training.

After just a few days they were posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion, joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt on 12 October. Megahey was issued regimental number 41609.

He probably saw action with the battalion during the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917 and perhaps also during the retreat from St Quentin from 21 to 28 March 1918.

On 9 April 1918 the 9th Battalion was on the Ypres front when the Germans began their offensive in that sector. The battalion saw severe fighting between Wulverghem and Kemmel for more than a week and suffered many casualties. Megahey was initially listed as missing, but his death was later accepted.

It is likely that he died in the early morning of 18 April when a composite battalion of 400 men from the 9th and 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers, and 12th Royal Irish Rifles, were caught in an enemy bombardment while moving to positions on the western slopes of Mount Kemmel. According to the battalion diary for that day:

2 am. Moved to Kemmel, as composite Bn with 1st R. Ir. Fus. cmd. by Lt. Col. Kelly. Heavy casualties, while moving into position, from enemy shelling. Capt. Despard wounded and died soon after.

... and the 108 Brigade diary:

Battalion moved to Kemmel Hill, but whilst halted near foot of N. slope was heavily shelled, losing Captain Despard killed ... and about 70 other casualties.

Having no known grave, Private Megahey is commemorated on Panel 141, Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium.

 

 

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