Biography

Birth date: 09 February 1890
Birth place: Australia: New South Wales, Tumut
Death date: 03 June 1941
Death place: Australia: Victoria, Melbourne
Final rank: Private
Service number: 1717 - First World War, 1914-1918
Unit: 55th Australian Infantry Battalion

John Ryan (1890-1941), 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 in 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.

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Rolls and Awards

  • Rank: Private
  • Date of embarkation: 14 April 1916
  • Place of embarkation: Sydney
  • Recommended for: Victoria Cross
  • Unit: 55th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Victoria Cross
  • Unit: 55th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Victoria Cross
  • Unit: 55th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Victoria Cross
  • Unit: 55th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Collection Items

Photograph

Timeline

Date of birth 1890-02-09
Date of embarkation 1916-04-14
Date of honour or award 1918-09-30 Awarded Victoria Cross for action at Bullecourt, France whilst serving with 55 Battalion, 14 Brigade, 5 Division as a Private
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-10-06
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-10-10
Date of death 1941-06-03