Glass, John Lyle Taggart

Glass, John Lyle Taggart (Lyle)

Lieutenant (Paymaster)

HMS Corfu, Royal Naval Reserve

Died during a medical operation on Monday 27 April 1942 (aged 27)

Buried:

Mombasa (Mbaraki) Cemetery, Kenya (Protestant Service Plot Row D Grave 22)

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Bangor and District War Memorial

Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St. Comgall’s)

Bangor Grammar School

BIOGRAPHY

John Lyle Taggart (Lyle) Glass was born on 11 June 1914 at 3 Washington Villas, Bangor and he was the second son of George Francis Glass (a linen salesman), and Mamie Anderson Glass (nee Taggart) of 10 Farnham Park, Bangor.  He was baptised on 23 September 1914 in Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St. Comgall’s).

George Francis Glass and Mamie Anderson Taggart were married on 1 September 1909 in Bushmills Presbyterian Church, Co. Antrim and they had four children:

Thomas Francis (born 3 March 1912 in Washington Villas, Bangor; died 1992)

John Lyle Taggart (born 11 June 1914 at 3 Washington Villas, Bangor)

Mamie Elizabeth (born 1920; died 2000)

Eileen May (born 1924; died 2011)

It was reported that Lyle Glass was ‘the thirteenth old boy of Bangor Grammar School to make the supreme sacrifice’.  He came to Bangor Grammar School from Bangor Collegiate School in January 1924 at the age of nine.  He was described by the Headmaster as, ‘straight, tall and graceful in build and he gave of his best in everything.’  He played cricket for the school and in his final season he won the prize for the highest batting average.  He also played rugby for the school, his last match being in January 1931, on the eve of his sailing to England for an interview with P&O Directors.  Lyle Glass loved the sea and from an early age he had an ambition to sail to distant parts of the world; his favourite book was said to be Westward Ho by Charles Kingsley.

Despite the worldwide slump in 1931, he was accepted by P&O as a Cadet Officer at the age of 16 and he sailed the Pacific and China seas.  When on leave he always returned to visit Bangor Grammar School.  After he died the Headmaster said, ‘Always the fatal harvest of war seems to take away our very best – the brave, the modest, the manly and the unselfish.’  One of Lyle Glass’s best friends at school was Pilot Officer Frederick William McMurray who was killed on 10 December 1940.

During the Second World War Paymaster Lieutenant Lyle Glass served with the Royal Naval Reserve and on 13 April 1941 he was one of some 280 survivors when the ship on which he was serving – HMS Rajputana – sank after being torpedoed by the German submarine U-108 in the waters between Greenland and Iceland.  Survivors were picked up by HMS Legion and around 40 men died.  Launched on 6 August 1925 the SS Rajputana was a passenger ship operated by the P&O Steam Navigation Company, London and on 14 September 1939 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to an armed merchant cruiser.

After a short period of home leave following the sinking of HMS Rajputana Lyle Glass returned to sea and served aboard HMS Corfu.  Launched on 20 May 1931 SS Corfu was a passenger ship operated by the P&O Steam Navigation Company, London and, on 14 September 1939, she was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to an armed merchant cruiser.  She was returned to her owner on 31 July 1947.

On 27 April 1942 Lyle Glass died of heart failure during a tonsillectomy operation in Mombasa Hospital, Kenya.  Lyle was 27 and his mother Mamie was said to be ‘broken-hearted’ after his death.  Her grief was compounded by the fact that he was buried in Mombasa.  She said, ‘No body, no funeral, no grave.’

Mamie Glass died suddenly on 21 May 1945 (aged 58), just 13 days after the German surrender on 8 May 1945.

Paymaster Lieutenant Lyle Glass is commemorated on Bangor and District War Memorial; in Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St. Comgall’s) and in Bangor Grammar School.

Lyle’s elder brother, Thomas Francis Glass, was a solicitor by profession and during the war he served with the Army in the Middle East.  Lyle’s father, George Francis Glass, died in 1965.