Rehabilitation Dutch doll : Sergeant R Ryan, 2/3 Reserve Motor Transport Company, AIF

Accession Number REL34121
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Cotton, Felt, Wool
Maker Ryan, Richard
Place made Australia
Date made c 1945
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Padded felt, cotton and wool female doll dressed in traditional Dutch dress, with green felt bonnet, waistcoat, belt, panties and dress, yellow felt shirt and shoes, flesh felt face, hands and legs and red felt soles. A flower pattern is embroidered in chains stitch on each side of the panties. All the seams, and the hem of each article of clothing, are finished in a glover's stitch in an opposing colour. The hair is yellow wool, made into a pair of plaits. The face is painted cotton over a padded felt form, and decorated with painted eyes, eyelashes, red cheeks and lips.

History / Summary

Doll made by Sergeant Richard Ryan while in hospital in 1945. Born at Mudgee on 2 November 1901, NX68940 Richard Ryan enlisted on 5 March 1941 at Tamworth and after a short period of training, was assigned to 2/3 Reserve Motor Transport Company and embarked for service in Malaya. After six months training and enjoying the sights of Malaya, Sergeant Ryan was soon caught up in the Japanese invasion and was wounded near Ipoh whilst 'getting some Argyles over the river'. His leg was badly shattered below the knee and he was withdrawn to Singapore. He regained consciousness just as he was being prepared for surgery and refused to have his leg amputated by the English doctor attending, reportedly yelling 'No Pommy bastard is taking my leg off!' He was still in hospital when the Japanese entered Singapore on 14 February 1942 and related to Tim Bowden in an interview in February 1982 (see AWM sound collection S02941) that he was rolling a cigarette when a Japanese soldier stopped at the end of the bed and demanded the cigarette and made him make three more for the other soldiers with him. Ryan complied 'They said how lovely they were. Of course they were made of Australian tobacco. They sent me in three packets of Japanese cigarettes. That was alright. But the same day Japs came in and murdered one doctor in the ward, killed the bloke on the table and wounded another doctor.' After three weeks Ryan was moved to Changi where he remained for the next three and a half years, surviving as best he could, working in the vegetable gardens. Upon liberation, Ryan was repatriated to Australia, and made this doll while he was recovering in hospital. Materials and patterns for this type of rehabilitation work were supplied by the Red Cross. Ryan's granddaughter recalls Richard Ryan always wore a built-up boot and walked 'with a hobble' as a result of refusing to have his leg amputated.