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.

Rolls and Awards

First World War Embarkation Roll

  • Rank: Private
  • Date of embarkation: 14 April 1916
  • Place of embarkation: Sydney

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 55th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 55th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 55th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 55th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Collection Items

Photograph

140061

MELBOURNE, VICTORIA, 1943-11-26. THE GRAVE OF EDWARD JOHN RYAN, VC, 1ST AUSTRALIAN IMPERIAL FORCES, 1914-18 WAR, WHO DIED ON 1941-06-03 AND WAS BURIED IN THE SPRINGVALE CEMETERY.

140061

A02621

Portrait of Private (Pte) John Ryan VC, 55th Battalion. Pte Ryan was awarded the Victoria Cross for 'most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty' on 30 September 1918 in France. During an attack Pte Ryan dashed forward and was one of the first to reach the enemy trenches, helping to overcome...

A02621

A02621A

Portrait of Private (Pte) John Ryan VC, 55th Battalion AIF. Pte Ryan was awarded the Victoria Cross for 'most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty' on 30 September 1918 in France. During an attack Pte Ryan dashed forward and was one of the first to reach the enemy trenches, helping to...

A02621A

P01383.013

A portrait of Private Edward John Francis Ryan VC. This photograph is a portion of P01383.017, a framed composite photograph (photo-montage) presented to Lieutenant John Hamilton VC by Dr Mannix on the occasion of the Saint Patrick's Day celebrations in Melbourne, 17 March 1920. The composite...

P01383.013

P01383.017

A framed composite photograph presented to Lieutenant John Hamilton VC by His Grace the Archbishop of Melbourne and the Irish citizens of Victoria, on the occasion of the Saint Patrick's Day celebrations in Melbourne, 17 March 1920. The composite photograph comprises portraits of fourteen Victoria...

P01383.017

P01383.018

This is a restored version of P01383.017. The original is is a framed composite photograph presented to Lieutenant John Hamilton VC by his Grace the Archbishop of Melbourne and the Irish citizens of Victoria on the occasion of the Saint Patrick's Day celebrations in Melbourne, 17 March 1920. The...

P01383.018

P02939.047

Studio portrait of Private (Pte) John Ryan VC, 55th Battalion. Pte Ryan was awarded the Victoria Cross for "most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty" on 30 September 1918 in France. During an attack Pte Ryan dashed forward and was one of the first to reach the enemy trenches, helping to...

P02939.047

Heraldry

Victoria Cross : Private J Ryan, 55 Battalion, AIF

Victoria Cross. Engraved reverse suspender with recipient's details; reverse cross with date of action.

RELAWM16571

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