WW2 Desert Spitfire pilot Andrew Tyrrell

Tribute web site: Andrew Tyrrell

Hi and welcome to this site!

Thanks to Geoff Carter who organized copies of Andrew Tyrrell's log book, we subsequently decided to construct this web site in remembrance to one of our brave SAAF ww2 fighter pilots who lost his life while doing operational duty. Included to this site also some No. 1 sqdn war diary pages relating to Andrew. 

Andrew Fitzgerald Tyrrell joined the SAAF  in 1941. In March 1942 he obtained his wings with mostly  "above average" assessment results. 

He joined  SAAF No. 1 squadron late 1942 up in Egypt at the time of the last Alamein battles and the start of  Rommel's retreat to Tunisia. He flew  combat with Hurricane and Spitfire V aircraft.

From the comments he made in the log book it is evident that Andrew was a most enthusiastic member of the squadron with an urge to excel.

During the first SAAF squadron Spitfire mission to be engaged, he flew as No.2 to Harry Gaynor. Two 109s fired at him, but Gaynor returned the fire.

In January 1943 Andrew force landed with engine trouble during a base move. He walked to an armoured car crew who were also experiencing engine trouble! Had supper with them. He walked back but night had fallen and he had to spend the night in the desert without cover. In the morning he got the engine panels off with his pocket knife and got the Merlin running again. He took off and flew to his former base.

Flying as No.2 to Major Moodie on the 6th of March, they intercepted Stukas of III/StG.3. The pair dived after them, firing as they went, then pulled up to attack two more above them. Tyrell fired and saw a flash of flame and the Ju.87 went down pouring black smoke, hit the ground and burst into flames. Moodie had seen this and noted Tyrrell’s “beautiful, full-deflection shooting” hitting the Stuka squarely in the cockpit. 

There could be no greater accolade. Andrew found himself behind another Stuka which was overflowing his gun sight. He fired until his cannons stopped. The ’87 rolled onto its back. He fired again, using his MGs. It dived vertically, pouring black smoke.

On 25 March he was flying as No.2 to Capt Viljoen who, leading six Spitfires, was directed by control into a formation of some 50 enemy aircraft. Andrew saw a 109 dive on Viljoen as the latter was attacking a Me.210. He shouted on the R/T, “Servaas, duck!” This last act saved his flight commander. Overwhelmed by superior numbers, he was shot down – either by the Bf109 of Hptm Grasser of II/JG.51 or by return fire of a Me210. 

His body and wrecked fighter were only located in 1944.  

He is buried at Sfax. 

(Thanks to Michael Schoeman for the above information)


This is a living web site. Any input and/or participation will be much appreciated regarding additional information, correctness, information from relatives of members who served with Andrew in his squadron, photographs, stories etc. Please e-mail me. Most welcome will be any photographs of No. 1 squadrons while Andrew was with them.

If you perhaps have a family member who served as a SAAF fighter pilot during ww2 and you would want to find out more about his war service please contact me, hopefully I can be of some help.

Tinus le Roux

July 2012



 

Military Career

01/09/1941    No. 6 Air School Potchefstroom

12/09/1941    First solo

24/11/1941    No. 24 Air School Nigel

13/03/1942    Obtain SAAF wings

06/04/1942    No.71 Flight Germiston

12/05/1942    Ferry Flight 9 A.D.

18/10/1942     SAAF No.1 Squadron, North Africa

06/03/1943     Shot down one Ju-87 Stuka

06/03/1943     One probable shot down Ju-87 Stuka

25/03/1943     Shot down and killed, buried at Sfax









 


Andrew 1941, pic thanks to Yuri Maree

 

Andrew second from left with Robby Robinson?  next to him together with mechanics. The particular plane was also flown by Andrew.

 

Servaas Viljoen: He was Andrew's No. 1 on the day Andrew was killed.

 

Snowy Moodie was 1 Sqdn's OC when Andrew was killed

 

 

Andrew's grave at Sfax, thanks Yuri Maree for this pic!

 

 

Log Book


 

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