Leggatt, William Murray
“Bill” Leggatt was the second son of Ernest Hugh Every Leggatt, of the Indian Civil Service, and Jesse Leggatt (daughter of the banker Andrew Murray). He came from Mr. A.V. Pott’s School, Parkside, Ewell, into Mr. Little’s House in September 1914, where he was a contemporary of Douglas Robert Jardine, who captained the England cricket team in the early 1930s. Leggatt was an excellent athlete. He was in Lords in 1917 and 1918, and in Houses VI in 1917-18, being captain in 1918. The writer of his obituary in the Wykehamist War Service Record and Roll of Honour stated that he would “never forget an exhibition of kicking given by him and Rupert Potter for Old Houses VI vs. Houses.” He also spent two years in the soccer XI.
He passed into RMA Woolwich in 1919, and was captain of their cricket and football teams. In cricket, he won two matches against the RMC. In 1926 he played for Kent and played for the Army the same year, as well as every year from 1930 to 1934, in which year he was captain. He was a member of the OW football team.
On July 29th 1929 he married Connel Auld Mathieson, daughter of T. Ogilvie Mathieson; in 1931 they had a son, Michael William Leggatt, who also came to the school (C 1944-1949). They lived at Hinton Place, Hinton St. George, Somerset.
He was promoted Captain in 1933 and served as an Instructor at the RMA from 1931 to 1935. In the latter year, he was appointed Adjutant of 16 Field Brigade, and rose to the rank of Major in 1938. He then served as a Brigade Major in Egypt until the outbreak of war. He was in Cairo on March 9th 1940, when a letter was sent which appeared in The Wykehamist of 4th June 1940 recording his presence at an Old Wykehamist dinner at the Turf Club, Cairo.
From March 18th, alongside Donny Mackenzie (B 1928-1933), Leggatt attended the recently-established Middle East Staff School in Haifa, which had been opened to provide staff training for officers unable to return to the Staff College in Camberley. He formed part of the very first intake (“No.1 War Course”), and his training lasted until June 29th. They carried out a river-crossing exercise and a night operations exercise, inspected the Lysander army co-operation aircraft of 6 Squadron RAF, and watched a Royal Engineers demonstration at Kishon. On May 29th 1940 they flew to Heliopolis in Egypt in aged Valentia transports, before watching a tank and infantry demonstration at Gebel Kashab and an artillery demonstration at Gebel el Urfa. After a day off in Cairo, they returned to Haifa by train on June 2nd.
After nine months in command of 11 (HAC) Field Regiment RHA with the Eighth Army, during which he fought at El Alamein, and was awarded the DSO, he returned to GHQ until August 1943, when he took command of 83 Anti-Tank Regiment RA. He had been twice mentioned in Despatches. In May 1944, now a Lieutenant Colonel, he returned to England, his health broken, to act as OC of 3rd RA Reserve Regiment.
In April 1945 he was sent on a year’s sick leave, but never recovered, and died of a heart attack in the smoking room of the Cavalry Club, Picadilly, London on August 13th 1946, aged fifty-one. His funeral was held on 17th August 1946 and he rests in St George’s churchyard, Hinton St George.
- Surname: Leggatt
- Forenames or initials: William Murray
- House: C
- Years in School: 1914-1918
- Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
- Regiment: Royal Artillery
- Date of Birth: 2nd September 1900
- Date of Death: 13th August 1946
- How Died: Died of Illness
- Location in War Cloister: Inner D2
- Decoration: DSO
- Burial Site: St George's Churchyard, Hinton St George, Somerset