Two brothers from Belfast were amongst the select group of airmen who died in the First World War. Alexander (above) and Marcus Tyrrell were educated at Inst.
Alexander came to aviation after service in Queen’s Training Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service’s Armoured Car Division.
His brother Marcus was commissioned in to the Royal Irish Fusiliers from Queen’s University Training Corps, later joining the Royal Flying Corps.
Walter Alexander Tyrrell
RNAS. Petty Officer. 32nd Squadron RAF, Flight Lieutenant. MC. Alexander attended RBAI (Inst) and the Belfast Municipal Technical Institution. He was a member of the Queen’s University Training Corps and was working as an apprentice motor engineer. He served in the RNAS (Armoured Car Section) as a Petty Officer from 26/12/1914 to 24/11/1915. During this time, he spent 8 months in France and suffered an injury, when an armoured car crushed his foot. Subsequently he used a specially made boot.
He commissioned into the Royal Flying Corps in July 1917. Alexander was Ireland’s fourth ranked air ace, with 17 victories. The first was on 30/10/1917 over Passchendaele, the last two being at 1845 and 1850 on 06/06/1918.
One particular victory, his second, on 11/11/1917 was described thus: “Three 32 Sqn DH5s flown by 2nd Lts Howson, W A Tyrrell and Claydon, were engaged on an OP. At 1000 over Westroosbeke, Clayton & Tyrrell first intercepted an Albatros with a yellow and green fuselage and yellow nose. Clayton was forced to pull out of the fight with a gun jam, but Tyrrell carried on the attack.
“The German began a staggering flutter in a downward direction. As the pilot attempted to pull the stricken Albatros out of the dive, Tyrrell fired again, his bullets striking the pilot’s head and the instrument panel in front of him. The Albatros reared upwards before spinning down again. Tyrrell lost sight of his quarry at 300 feet as it fell through and below other circling German aircraft – it was too dangerous to follow. There were no German pilot fatalities on this day. Nevertheless, Tyrrell added this out of control’ to his score.”
He was awarded the Military Cross, the citation for which read: “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. On one day this officer attacked two enemy triplanes, destroying one and driving down the other out of control. After this he was attacked by two other machines, one of which he forced to land, taking the occupants prisoners. On various other occasions, he has destroyed or driven down out of control enemy machines.”
Alexander was killed, at the age of 19, while flying his Fouquerolles SE5a biplane. He was brought down by enemy machine gun fire from the trenches. Born 23/08/1898. Son of John Tyrrell and Jeanie Tyrrell (nee Todd) of Fairview Buildings, Crumlin Road, Belfast, and later Ballyholme. Beauvais Communal Cemetery, Oise, France. Bangor WM. RBAI WM. QUB WM. First Bangor Presbyterian Church WM.
John Marcus Tyrell
Royal Irish Fusiliers, attached Royal Air Force. Captain. Died 20/06/1918. Age 23. RBAI and QUB where he read medicine and was a member of the Training Corps.
He joined the 3rd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers. Marcus was granted two months medical leave on 15t/11/916 on account of “debility and anaemia”. He subsequently transferred to the Royal Air Force.
He was killed on 20th June 1918, aged 23, during the course of an attempt to bring his aircraft back to the aerodrome after he had been shot.
Marcus was born on 27th March 1895, the son of John Tyrrell, JP, and Jeanie Tyrrell (nee Todd) of Fairview Buildings, Crumlin Road, Belfast, and later “The Cairn”, Ballyholme, Bangor.
Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France. First Bangor Presbyterian Church WM, Bangor WM. QUB WM. RBAI WM