Biography

Birth date: 07 January 1865
Birth place: Australia: New South Wales, Michelago
Death date: 02 October 1937
Death place: Australia: New South Wales, Michelago
Final rank: Major General
Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)
Units:
  • Staff
  • Australian Imperial Force
  • Light Horse
  • 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade
  • 2nd Australian Light Horse Regiment
  • New South Wales Imperial Bushmen

A First World War brigade commander, politician, and grazier, Granville Ryrie was born at Michelago, New South Wales, on 1 July 1865. He became a jackeroo and took easily to outback life, becoming a good horseman and an excellent shot. Ryrie managed a grazing property, married in 1896, and served in the Boer War with the 6th New South Wales Imperial Bushmen. He ended the war as an honorary major.

Ryrie returned home and continued to serve in mounted units while resuming his work as a grazier. In 1906 he was elected to the Legislative Assembly as member for Queanbeyan, resigning in 1910 in an unsuccessful effort to win a federal seat. The following year, however, he entered federal parliament as Member for North Sydney.

At the outbreak of war he took command of the 2nd Light Horse Brigade as brigadier general. He landed at Gallipoli on 19 May 1915, where his leadership, courage, and willingness to question orders earned him the respect of his men. He was wounded twice and returned to Egypt to lead his brigade under Chauvel. In London during the Romani battle, Ryrie was not involved in a major battle until Gaza in 1917. He was at Beersheba and led his men during the long northward march through Palestine, on one occasion allowing captured Turks, with whom his men bivouacked, to keep their weapons for defense against hostile Arabs.

Ryrie was not promoted during the war despite having led his men through a series of important victories the like of which were not possible on the Western Front. His success as a commander rested, as Charles Bean wrote, on his being "a hero to his men": he made no serious errors of command, led by example, and was careful with the lives of his soldiers.

He was made commander of the Australian Mounted Division in December 1918 and became commander of the AIF in Egypt in April 1919. A month previously he had ordered an Arab village burnt when its inhabitants refused to hand over two men that had murdered a Ghurka sentry under his command. He returned to Australia later that year.

Back home, Ryrie resumed his political career, serving as Honorary Assistant Minister of Defence in 1920-21, but did not retire from the Army until 1927. He held further political posts before becoming High Commissioner to London late in 1927. Ryrie's blunt style and forthright manner won him many admirers, not least among his fellow delegates to the League of Nations.

Ryrie returned to Australia in 1932 but failing health prevented resumption of his public career. He died in Sydney on 2 October 1937.

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Rolls and Awards

  • Rank: Captain
  • Unit: New South Wales Imperial Bushmen
  • Conflict: South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)
  • Rank: Colonel
  • Date of embarkation: 21 December 1914
  • Place of embarkation: Sydney
  • Unit: 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Unit: 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Unit: 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Order of the Bath
  • Unit: Australian Imperial Force
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Unit: 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: Staff
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: Staff
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Order of the Bath
  • Unit: 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George
  • Unit: 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Egyptian Order of the Nile, Second Class
  • Unit: 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: 2nd Australian Light Horse Regiment
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Order of St Michael and St George
  • Unit: Staff
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: Light Horse
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Photograph

Timeline

Date of birth 1865-01-07 Michelago, NSW.
Date commissioned 1898 Commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 1st Australian Horse.
Other 1900-05 Arrived in South Africa as a captain with the Imperial Bushmen. Served in the Boer War.
Other 1900-09 Wounded near Wonderfontein.
Date returned to Australia 1901-06 Ryrie resumed serving with the 1st Australian Horse.
Other 1903 1st Australian Horse became the 3rd Light Horse Regiment.
Date promoted 1904-10-29 Became the commander of the 3rd Light Horse Regiment with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Other 1906-04 Elected member for Queanbeyan in NSW Legislative Assembly.
Other 1911 Transferred to the unattached list.
Others 1911 Won the Federal seat of North Sydney.
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 1914-09-19 Appointed commander of the 2nd Light Horse Brigade, AIF.
Date of embarkation 1914-12-21
Other 1915-05-19 The 2nd Light Horse Brigade arrive at Gallipoli.There it was broken up, and its regiments attached to infantry brigades.
Other 1915-06 The 2nd Light Horse Brigade was reconstituted.
Date wounded 1915-09-29 Ryrie was wounded by Shrapnel, and evacuated.
Other 1915-10 Returned to the front.
Date wounded 1915-12
Other 1915-12 The 2nd Light Horse Brigade arrived in Eygpt.
Date of honour or award 1916-01-14 Companion of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1916-01-17
Other 1916-03 The 2nd Light Horse Brigade became part of the newly formed Anzac Mounted Division.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1917
Other 1917-03-26 The 2nd Light Horse the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade attacked and captured Gaza.
Date of honour or award 1918-01-01 Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB).
Other 1918-05 - 1918-07 Ryrie was hospitalised in Egypt with a stomach ailment.
Other units 1918-12 Ryrie took command of the Anzac Mounted Division.
Date promoted 1919-04-16 Appointed commander of the AIF in Eygpt and was promoted to temporary major general.
Date promoted 1919-05-03 Promoted to substantive major general.
Date of honour or award 1919-10-14 Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG).
Date of honour or award 1920-01-16 Egypt Order of the Nile - 2nd Class
Other 1920-02 - 1921-12 Assistant Minister of Defence.
Other units 1921 Returned to the militia as commander of the 1st Cavalry Division. He obtained leave from his command.
Other 1924 Resumed his command of the 1st Cavalry Division.
Other 1925 In the election Ryrie moved from the seat of North Sydney to neighbouring Warringah.
Other 1926 - 1927 Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.
Other 1927 Retired.
Other 1927 - 1932 High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.
Date of death 1937-10-02 He was accorded a state funeral with military honours, and was buried at Micalago.