Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1918, Captain John Marcus Tyrrell, Royal Air Force and 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Princess Victoria’s (Royal Irish Fusiliers), was killed in action.
One of ten children of an alderman and Justice of the Peace who was also a wholesale grocer and army contractor, Captain Tyrrell was educated at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and Queen’s University, where he studied medicine and became a member of the Officers’ Training Corps.
A few days after the outbreak of the Great War he was commissioned into the Royal Irish Fusiliers. He served with them in the trenches, being wounded in action in May of 1915, but returned as soon as he was deemed fit. The following year, after two months of medical leave due to debility and anaemia, he was transferred to the Royal Flying Corps (known as the Royal Air Force from April of 1918).
Nine days after attending the funeral of his nineteen-year-old brother, Captain Walter Tyrrell M.C., whose plane had been brought down by enemy gunfire, Captain John Tyrrell suffered a similar fate. He had been shot while on a mission, and died while attempting to return his aircraft to the aerodrome. His school principal, Mr. R.M. Jones M.A. praised his intellectual ability, athletic prowess and fine character; at the time of his death he was the hundred-and-first pupil from his school to have fallen in the Great War.
Captain Tyrrell is buried in the Boulogne Eastern Cemetery in France, and on his headstone are the words: “Until the day break and the shadows flee away”. He is commemorated on his family’s grave’s headstone in the Belfast City Cemetery as well as the Bangor and District War Memorial, the Royal British Legion Bangor Branch Memorial Plaque, in the First Bangor Presbyterian Church, the Queen’s University War Memorial and the North of Ireland Cricket Club Memorial.
John, from Belfast, was 23 years old.