John Ryan INDEX


John RYANS'S Front Page

To John RYAN'S - Parents




Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956)

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954)(about) Previous issue Monday 30 December 1918).

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956)(about) Previous issue Wednesday 4 June 1941)

- To Front - To East Blowering - To West Blowering School

Edward John Francis (Jack) RYAN

Regimental number 1717

Date of birth 9 February 1890

Place of birth Tumut, New South Wales

Religion Roman Catholic

Occupation Labourer

Address Tumut, New South Wales

Marital status Single

Age at embarkation 25

Height 5' 7"

Weight 154 lbs

Next of kin Mother, Mrs Eugenie Ryan, Tumut, New South Wales

Previous military service Nil

Enlistment date 1 December 1915

Place of enlistment Wagga Wagga, New South Wales

Rank on enlistment Private

Unit name 55th Battalion, 2nd Reinforcement

AWM Embarkation Roll number 23/72/3

Embarkation details Unit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A40 Ceramic on 14 April 1916

Rank from Nominal Roll Private

Unit from Nominal Roll 55th Battalion

Recommendations (Medals and Awards) Victoria Cross

Recommendation date: 10 October 1918

Fate Returned to Australia 6 September 1919

Medals Victoria Cross

'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 embarkment, 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 dangeous 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

Discharge date 10 January 1920

Family/military connections Cousin: 2835A Pte David John RICHARDS, 9th Bn, killed in action, 20 April 1916. Other details War service: Egypt, Western Front

Disembarked Port Said, 16 May 1916. Embarked Alexandria on board HT 'Arcadian', 29 July 1916; found guilty, 26 July 1916, of being absent from Muster Parade: forfeited 10 days' pay; disembarked Southampton, England, via Marseilles, 9 August 1916. Found guilty, 28 August 1916, of being late on parade 6.30 am: awarded forfeiture of 7 days' pay.

Proceeded overseas to France, 9 September 1916; taken on strength, 55th Bn, 23 September 1916.

Detached to Anzac Light Railways, 8 January 1917; rejoined Bn from detachment, 12 June 1917.

Found guilty, 14 July 1917, of overstaying leave pass from 8 pm, 2 July, until reporting for duty at 3.30 pm, 3 July 1917: awarded 4 days' field Punishment No 2 and forfeiture of 2 days' pay; total forfeiture of 6 days' pay.

Whilst returning from leave, admitted to No 2 Convalescent Depot, 4 October 1917; transferred to 39th General Hospital, 6 October 1917; discharged to duty, 11 November 1917; total period of treatment for venereal disease: 39 days. Rejoined Bn, 22 November 1917.

Wounded in action, 30 September 1918 (gun shot wound, right shoulder), and admitted to 32nd Field Ambulance; transferred same day to 12th Casualty Clearing Station, and thence by Ambulance Train No 20 to 34th General Hospital, Trouville; admitted 2 October 1918. Transferred to No 1 Convalescent Depot, Havre, 25 October 1918; discharged to Australian General Base Depot, Havre, 15 November 1918; rejoined Bn, 7 December 1918.

Awarded Victoria Cross.

On leave to United Kingdom, 17 December 1918; rejoined Bn from leave, 9 January 1919.

Proceeded to England for return to Australia, 16 April 1919; disembarked Southampton, 17 April 1919, and marched in to No 5 Group, Weymouth.

Admitted to 1st Australian Dermatological Hospital, Bulford, 3 June 1919; discharged, 8 June 1919; total period of treatment for venereal disease: 6 days.

District Court Martial held at Tidworth, 30 July 1919: charge 1: Failing to appear at place of parade at 1400, 15 July; 2. Failing to appear at place of parade at 1000, 16 July; 3. Disobeying a lawful command; 4. Using insubordinate language. Found guilty to 1 & 4; not guilty to 2 & 3. Awarded forfeiture of 1 day's pay. GOC did not uphold finding on charge 2.Marched in to No 1 Group, Sutton Veny, 1 August 1919.

Commenced return to Australia from Devonport on board HT 'Eripides', 7 September 1919; admitted to ship's hospital at sea, 4 October 1919; disembarked Sydney, 24 October 1919; discharged, 10 January 1920.

Medals: Victoria Cross, British War Medal, Victory Medal

In 1929 he sought relief from the Mudgee Anzac and Armistice Association.

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.'

Date of death 3 June 1941

Age at death 51

Place of burial Springvale Cemetery (Catholic Section), Melbourne, Victoria

Sources 'Australian Dictionary of Biography', vol. 11, p. 492. 2011

Copyright The AIF Project, UNSW@ADFA, 2011 Home | Search | About | Disclaimer

Next of kin, Mother, Mrs Eugenie Ryan, Tumut, New South Wales.

Rank from Nominal Roll, Private. Unit from Nominal Roll, 55th Battalion... Jump to text

WW1 Record

RYAN J. Drove back a bombing party

Unit:55th Australian Infantry Battalion

Date of Action: 30 September 1918

Place of Action: Near Bullecourt, France

Conflict: World War 1

SADLIER C.W.K. Won VC at Villers Bretonneux

Unit:52nd Australian Infantry Battalion

Date of Action: 24 25 April 1918

Place of Action: Villers-Bretonneux, France

Conflict: World War 1

John Ryan (VC 1918) (Ref- From Wikipedia)

Private Edward John Francis Ryan VC c.

1919 Edward John Francis Ryan VC - born on the 9th February 1890 died on the 3rd June 1941, better known as John Ryan, was an Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

He was approximately twenty eight years old, and a private in the 55th Battalion, (N.S.W.), Australian Imperial Force during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 30 September 1918 at the Hindenburg Defences, France, when the enemy succeeded in establishing a bombing party in the rear of the battalion's recently-won position, Private Ryan, on his own initiative, organized and led a party of men with bombs and bayonets against the enemy. He reached the position with only three men and they succeeded in driving the enemy back. Private Ryan cleared the last of them alone, finally falling wounded himself.

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Australian War Memorial (Canberra, Australia).


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

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

Australian War Memorial, P01383.013

Religious Influence




Private Edward John (Jack) Francis Ryan - VC

Place of birth: Tumut, NSW

Date of death: 3 June 1941

Place of death: Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, VIC

John Ryan, born at Tumut, New South Wales, was a labourer on enlistment in December 1915. He embarked the following April, joining the 55th Battalion in France in September.

During the battalion's attack on the Hindenburg defences near Bellicourt, on 30 September 1918, Ryan went forward under heavy fire and was one of the first to reach an enemy trench. A German counter-attack drove the Australians back, placing them in a critical position. Ryan organised and led an attack on the Germans with bombs and bayonets. His small party killed three Germans, then he single-handedly rushed the remainder and drove them back. He was badly wounded in the shoulder, but his action enabled the trench to be retaken.

After the war Ryan struggled to find employment, particularly during the Depression years. From 1935 he worked for some time with an insurance company, but his health deteriorated and he died of pneumonia in 1941.


Of the five additional members of the A.I.F. who, as reported in the "Herald" on Saturday, have been awarded the Victoria Cross, two enlisted in New South Wales and one each in Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia. Particulars relating to these five members at the time of enlisting and their careers with the A.I.F. were obtained from the Defence Department to-day:-

Major Blair Anderson Wark, D.E.O. is only 24 years of age. Before enlisting he was a quantity surveyor, and was a lieutenant at North Sydney in the 18th infantry Regiment, Australian Military Forces. After joining the 30th Battalion in 1915, and leaving Australia in November of that year, he was promoted to the rank of captain, and late in 1918 to major. He was mentioned in despatches, and was awarded the D.E.O. in 1917,shortly after attaining his majority. He is a son of Mrs Wark, of 28 Mount Street, North Sydney.

Private John Ryan was a labourer before he enlisted at Wagga on December 1, 1915, at the age of 25 years. He Left Australia in April, 1916, with the second reinforcements to the 55th Battalion. His mother, Mrs. E. Rayn, lives at tumut.

Lance-corporal Bernard Sidney Gordon is a native of Launceston, but enlisted at Townsville in September, 1915, at the age of 24 years. he had been following the occupation of a cooper's machinist, and joined the 41st Battalion. Lance-corporal Gordon is married, and his wife lives in Beaconsfield, Tasmania.

The late Lance-corporal Lawrence Carthage Weathers was a native of New Zealand. He joined the 43rd Battalion at Adelaide in Febru- ary, 1916 and when he enlisted was 25 years of age, and was employed as a foreman undertaker. His widow, Mrs. Annie Elizabeth Weathers, and two children, reside in Franklin Street, Fullarton Estate, South Australia.

Private James Park Woods is a native of Gawler, South Australia, and was a vigneron before enlisting in Perth, Western Australia, In September, 1910, at the age of 25 years. His next-of-kin is his brother, Mr. W.J. Woods of Barass road, Payneham. S.A. - (Ref- The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954)(about) Previous issue Monday 30 December 1918).

1919 - A TUMUT V.C.

Private John Ryan, who, as recently announced in the "S.M. Herald," has been awarded the Victoria Cross, is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Ryan, of Tumut, New South Wales, and enlisted at Wagga with the "Kangaroos" at the end of 1915.

Shortly before the signing of the armistice Private Ryan, who at the time of his enlistment, was 25 years of age, and a labourer, was reported as having been wounded and admitted to hospital in France. On the same day September 30th he was in an attack on the Hindenburg defences, when the enemy counter-attacked and established a bombing post in the rear.

Private Ryan saved a particularly dangerous situation. He led a party of men with bombs and bayonets, and killed the first three Germans in the trench by skilful bayoneting. Ryan then also rushed the remainder with bombs. He fell wounded in No Man's Land. - (Ref- The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954)(about) Previous issue Wednesday 15 January 1919).


From the Euripedes, which arrived in Sydney Harbour yesterday morning, 708 New South Wales troops and a large contingent for Queensland were disembarked.

Among those on board were Captain Albert Jacka, V.C, M.C. and bar, the first Australian to whom the coveted cross was awarded during the war, and Private John Ryan, V.C., of Tumut (N.S.W.). Captain Jacka came out on the Euripides as adjutant, and returned to his home in Victoria last night.

Ryan was seized by a number of the soldiers, hoisted shoulder high and carried amid a scene of CAPTAIN ALBERT JACKA, V.C, M.C. AND BAR. great enthusiasm to the Premier's car. In this he was whisked off to the Anzac Buffet to join a proud and anxious mother, Mrs. Eugene Ryan, of Tumut, and an equally proud brother, Trooper Malcolm Ryan, a Light Horseman, who recently returned from the campaign In Palestine.

Ryan, V.C. Joined the "Kangaroos" at Wagga in Decembor, 1915. He is 30 years of ago, a thin, lithe man with a smiling face that has been burned a deep mahogany brown his general appearance beings suggestive of great activity rather than strength.

Prior to enlistment he was employed on railway works.

From his arrival in Egypt a few months after enlistment he served continuously in the field until wounded in the desperate fight at Bullecourt for the Hindenburg line on September 30 last year.

For his courage and dash on that occasion he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

He had been one of the first to reach an enemy trench on the first assault.

There his daring and resource assisted to inspire his comrades, and in spite of heavy gunfire the enemy was overcome.

The enemy, however, counter-attacked and establishing a bombing party in the rear of the trench, which was under fire from the front, made the position of the Australians very critical.

Ryan led the men with him in an attack on the bombers, finally reaching them with only three companions.

The small party effective work with the bayonet, and when his three mates had fallon Ryan, left on the embankment alone, rushed the remainder of the enemy with bombs and routed them. He was picked up wounded, but had saved the situation.

Jacka enlisted at the age of 21, and before entering the service was a fencer employed by the Victorian Forestry Department at I Wedderburn. The circumstances under which as a lance-corporal he won the Victoria Cross at Courtney's Post, Gallipoli, in a single-handed bayonet fight with a body of Turks, and later gained further decorations in the fearful struggle at Pozieres and again at Bullecourt, besides being mentioned in despatches from Messines and Polygon Wood, have been often told. - (Ref- The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954)(about) Previous issue Saturday 25 October 1919).


"YOU can talk of your generals and your colonels and your majors," said the Digger, looking aggressively around the table at our Friday luncheon club, "but where would they be without the Rank and File to do the job'" Don't look at me in that tone of voice," pleaded the Major, "because I rather agree with you ' Who doesn t'" asked the Skipper "I'm a seafairing man, but I've read and heard enough about warfare to know that if you can't rely on the private soldier, all the brain work and organisation of the Higher Command goes for nothing ".

All the same," growled the Digger, "it's not everybody that will give the rank and file their due " Look here," put in the Signals Officer I think you've got a story or something Have you been reading about some super private who saved the situation and won a peerage' Not a peel age'" said the Digger "The VC

Then you have got a story'" The Signals Officer looked triumphant "What about giving him the floor, Skipper?' He's got it'" said the Skipper, ordering the same again.

John Ryan was born at Tumut (NSW) in Februaiy 1890, said the Digger

He enlisted at Wagga in December, 1915, and went overseas with the 55th Battalion He gained Story Of An Epic Deed That Helped To Smash The Famous Hindenburg Line in 1918 the Victoria Cross on September 30, 1918, the day after we began our assault on the Hinden burg Line. He won his award as a private soldier, and as a private soldier he performed prodigious feats of arms that almost put him in a class by himself. You know how w hnt.t.prpri ourselves against the Hindenburg Line, until Foch decided that every sacrifice must be made to overthrow the German defences there before 1918 ended.

Ryan's crowd was in it from the word "Go." Remember the artillery bombardment of Jerry's lines? It began on September 26, as a curtain-raiser to an attack by two American and three Australian divisions, plus Corps troops - about 200,000 men. Remember how the Americans went on, and the Germans popped up from their underground "hideouts" along the canal and held up the Aussies in the second phase of the operations?

The Allied plans miscarried. There could be no methodical advance covered by a coordinated artillery barrage. Progress depended on the tenacity and leading of the front line of the troops. It was bomb and bayonet business for the Diggers. Sir John Monash labelled it "a private soldiers' battle." Day after the hop-over there was some pretty tough hand-to-hand fighting in that tangle of trenches, but it wasn t till October that the Germans yielded and the Hindenburg Line began the "pack up" that ended the war.

Now listen to what Jack Ryan did on that second day of the assault. He was one of the first men in his company to reach their objective trench. He went into action with such dash and used his bayonet in such an inspired fashion that his cobbers seemed ready to follow him anywhere. They took a terrible belting from German artillery and machine guns, but they gained the trench, and with Ryan's example to sustain them, hung on to the death. Then they found there was a big gap between the left of Ryan's unit and the unit on the flank. Before there was time to do anything about it the Fritzes counter-attacked. Some of them got through the gap and bombed our lads from the rear. Something had to be done, and done quickly.

Ryan summed up the situation instantly. All the officers and N.C.O.'s had become casualties. Somebody had to take charge. Quickly Jack Ryan got together a few men. With bayonet and bomb they rushed the Germans. They ran right into a hail of bombs. Ryan reached the enemy position with only three men.

The quartet of Diggers was outnumbered, but by skilful bayonet work they killed three Germans, and rushed the remainder with bombs. At that moment Ryan fell, wounded in the shoulder. But his dashing assault had driven off the Germans, and those who had not been killed or wounded by his bombs were picked off by our Lewis gunners as they panicked across No Man's Land.

For two days Ryan's battalion and another fought skilfully and bravely in the position won by his amazing courage and resourcefulness. Inspired by the thought of what he had done, the men fought like demons and kept the Germans at bay during one of the critical stages of the assault on the Hindenburg Line.

Yes, it was a private soldiers' war, all right; and when an officer of the calibre of Sir John Monash admits that the position couldn't have been taken but for the work of the humble infantryman, who's to contradict him? - (Ref- The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956)(about) Previous issue Saturday 10 May 1941).

1941 - V.C. WINNER 0F LAST WAR - Mr. J. Ryan's Death

Mr. John Ryan, 51, VC winner in the last war, died in Royal Melbourne Hospital last night. He was taken to hospital from his home in Victoria st, Carlton, on Mon-1J I KIAN, VC day, suffering from pneumonia.

His sister, Mrs P Grant, of North Yass (NSW), and his brother Mr W Ryan, of Hampton, were with him when he died, Mr Ryan was born at Tumut (NSW). He served in the last war with the 55th Btn AIF, and was awarded his VC for conspicuous bravery on the Hindenburg Line on September 30, 1918. He won his award as a private.

He was one of the first men of his company to reach their objective trench when Foch launched an attack on the line on September 26 A big gap developed between the left of his unit and the unit on the flank. Germans got through and began bombing from the rear

All officers and NCOs had become casualties Ryan gathered together a few men and with bajonet and bomb they rushed the Germans. They ran right into a hail of bombs and reached the enemy position with only three men. But the dashing attack drove off the Germans and those not already killed or wounded were picked off as they panicked across No Mans Land by Lewis-gunners.

In the attack Ryan was wounded in the shoulder. - (Ref- The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956)(about) Previous issue Wednesday 4 June 1941).