John (Jack) RYAN VC

RYAN, John

Service Number: 1717
Enlisted: 1 December 1915, Wagga Wagga, New South Wales
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 55th Infantry Battalion
Born: Tumut, New South Wales, Australia, 9 February 1890
Home Town: Adelong, Tumut Shire, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Pneumonia , Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 3 June 1941, aged 51 years
Cemetery: Springvale War Cemetery, Melbourne, Victoria
Catholic Section
Memorials: John Hamilton VC Pictorial Honour Roll, Keith Payne VC Memorial Park, North Bondi War Memorial, Tumut Boer War Memorial, Winchelsea WWI Memorial
Show Relationships

World War 1 Service

1 Dec 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Wagga Wagga, New South Wales
14 Apr 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1717, 55th Infantry Battalion
14 Apr 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 1717, 55th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ceramic, Sydney
10 Jan 1920: Discharged AIF WW1
Date unknown: Involvement 55th Infantry Battalion, Fromelles (Fleurbaix)

'V.C. WINNER CARRIES SWAG: On the Road for Four Years:

Like many veterans, and despite being a recipient of the highest award the Army had, a return to post-war life brought a new and often very difficult reality.

John Ryan was no exception. In 1929, John Ryan sought relief from the Mudgee Anzac and Armistice Association.

The Melbourne 'Age' reported, 16 August 1935:
'V.C. WINNER CARRIES SWAG: On the Road for Four Years. Mildura:

Carrying a swag, John Ryan, a private in the 55th Battalion, walked into an office in Mildura today [Thursday] and asked for work. He had "hitch-hiked" from Balranald. He had been on the road for the past four years.'

Read more...

Awarded the Victoria Cross - Hindenburg Line

'For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty during an attack against the Hindenburg defences on 30th September 1918. In the initial assault on the enemy's positions Private Ryan went forward with great dash and determination, and was one of the first to reach the enemy trench. His exceptional skill and daring inspired his comrades, and, despite heavy fire, the hostile garrison was soon overcome and the trench occupied. The enemy then counter attacked, and succeeded in establishing a bombing party in the rear of the position. Under fire from front and rear, the position was critical, and necessitated prompt action. Quickly appreciating the situation, he organized and led the men near him with bomb and bayonet against the enemy bombers, finally reaching the position with only three men. By skilful bayonet work, his small party succeeded in killing the first three Germans on the enemy's flank, then, moving along the embankment, Private Ryan alone rushed the remainder with bombs. He fell wounded after he had driven back the enemy, who suffered heavily as they retired across "No Man's Land". A particularly dangerous situation had been saved by this gallant soldier, whose example of determination bravery and initiative was an inspiration to all.'

Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 61
Date: 23 May 1919

Read more...
Showing 2 of 2 stories

Biography

Main Image  - 

Edward John Francis Ryan (1890-1941), by Johnstone, O'Shannessy & Co., c1919

Australian War Memorial, P01383.013 (cas.awm.gov.au)

Like all of Australia's VC winners, John Ryan's biography has been researched by numbers of authoritative sources.  Following is a brief extract and link to his Australian Dictionary of Biography entry.  Others can be sourced via links in the sidebar.  Readers are also referred to the standard reference, Lionel Wigmore's "They Dared Mightily" originally published in 1962 but upodated and reprinted on several occasions.

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

Edward John Francis Ryan (1890-1941), soldier and labourer, was born on 9 February 1890 at Tumut, New South Wales, second son of Michael Ryan, a Sydney-born labourer, and his wife Eugenia, née Newman, from Gunning. Educated locally, he worked as a labourer before enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force at Wagga Wagga on 1 December 1915. After marching to Sydney with the 'Kangaroos' recruiting march he was posted to the 2nd Reinforcements of the 55th Battalion. He left Sydney on 14 April 1916 and after two months in Egypt joined his unit at Fleurbaix, France, in September. He remained with the 55th for the rest of the war except in January-June 1917 when he was detached to the Anzac Light Railways Unit.

John Ryan won the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty during the allied assault on the Hindenburg defences on 30 September 1918.

SEE THE FULL ENTRY HERE (adb.anu.edu.au)

Read more...

Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From Peter Barnes
 
One of Australia's greatest war heroes, Private Edward John Ryan VC (also known as Jack Ryan). His Victoria Cross speaks for that.

In finding some old newspaper articles about him, I was shocked
to read what happened to him. Very sad indeed.

Here are some of those articles...

This article comes from The Tumut and Adelong Times (NSW) – Dated Tuesday the 29th of October 1929.

TUMUT V.C. IS JOBLESS

FORGOTTEN GALLANTRY OF JOHN RYAN

A HOMELESS TRAMP

From national hero, with his name a synonym of gallantry, to oblivion, without home or job, in a country town, is the pathetic progress of ex-Private John Ryan, V.C. Winner of highest award for gallantry that his country could bestow, he now tramps from town to town in an unavailing search for work.

Typically, he attributes to 'luck' the affair that brought him his decoration. The official book of V.C.'s is more communicative. ''When the Australians were crashing through the Hindenburg line, Sept., 1918,'' says the record, ''the 55th Battalion, to which Ryan belonged, was, together with other units, well in the attack. Ryan was one of the first to rush into a German trench, which was taken, but he showed, perhaps, higher qualities later when he led three men against some bombers who were making his position untenable. He put these men out of action and was then severely wounded."

WORKLESS IN DUBBO

A native of Tumut, Ryan sacrificed his job for the country that now denies him work. He is now in Dubbo, where he has sought vainly for work during the past few weeks.

End of newspaper article.

The article below comes from the Northern Star (Lismore NSW) – Dated Thursday the 5th of June 1941.

V.C. WHO DIED IN WANT

MELBOURNE, Wednesday - Tragedy lies behind the death in hospital of Pte. Edward John Ryan, V.C. hero of the last war, who had battled for years against adversity. He died at the age of 54 years, in want.

For months he had tramped the streets looking for work. On the day he was to have started work he had to be taken to hospital.

Ryan received his V.C. for driving back the enemy in the Hindenburg line with bombs and bayonet after all his companions around him had fallen.

End of newspaper article.

I have also read he was 51 years old when he died (9 February 1890 – 3 June 1941), He died of pneumonia in the Royal Melbourne Hospital on the 3rd of June 1941 and was buried with military honours in the Catholic section of Springvale cemetery where eight V.C. recipients formed a guard of honour.

On his grave we see ‘BRAVEST OF THE BRAVE. 1717. 55TH BALLALION A I.F. ERECTED BY THE STATE GOVERNMENT OF VICTORIA AS A TRIBUTE TO THE MEMORY OF A GALLANT SOLDIER’.

Lest We Forget.

Read more...