Thursday, 24 October 2013

Forgotten Heroes - Private Edward Ryan. V.C.


Private Edward John Francis Ryan Ryan, 55th Battalion, Victoria Cross action at Bellicourt, France.

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.

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