Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1915, Second Lieutenant John Collett Tyler, 122nd Battery, Royal Field Artillery, was killed in action during the Battle of Hill 60, south of Ypres.
The younger son of Colonel John Charles Tyler of the Royal Engineers, he was educated at Wellington College where he was head boy and captain of the football team. He attended the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich where he was senior under-officer and obtained the Sword of Honour in July of 1914 – it was reported that he “possessed in a high degree those qualities which were looked for in the best type of officer”. His two grandfathers both served, and his great-grandfather was General Sir Charles Pasley K.C.B., R.E., founder of the School of Military Engineering at Chatham.
Second Lieutenant Tyler embarked for France on the 17th of August, 1914. On the 17th of April, 1915, the British took Hill 60, which had been captured by the Germans several months before. They lost it overnight when the Germans counter-attacked, just after Lieutenant Tyler was killed. His commanding officer wrote: “There is a big battle going on here now which started at 7.00p.m., John and I went forward to observe. I had to send John and a signaller on by night, to the newly captured trench to let me know if the Germans were counter-attacking, and to observe by day. This job he did in his usual gallant way. Three times he came back to me under heavy fire and great difficulties to mend the telephone lines. He was shot at dawn, a rifle bullet clean through the forehead. He died, as he lived, doing his duty gallantly and well. Had he lived he would have certainly had the D.S.O.. He was killed in the foremost trench captured from the Germans. Just after he was killed the Germans retook the trench and held it for about twelve hours. We then took it back. Throughout the night he did most gallant work under fire, and I have sent in his name to higher authority mentioning his name for gallant conduct and recommending the award of the Military Cross”. (There does not appear to be a record of the award having been given).
A few days later the General Officer Commanding wrote: “I had already sent in his name for good service. His cheery, gallant example was worth everything at these times”. Second Lieutenant Tyler is memorialised on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing at Ypres, the Colchester War Memorial and the Wellington College Roll of Honour.
John, born in India where his father was serving, and raised in Colchester, was 21 years old.