Australia’s First and Last VC’s Arrive Home on the Same Ship
29 October 1919 Sydney Mail
Captain Jacka, V.C., M.C, as every school child now knows, was the first Australian awarded the Victoria Cross in the great world war.
He enlisted at the age of 21, and before entering the military service was a fencer employed by the Victorian Forestry Department at Wedderburn.
The circumstances under which as a lance-corporal he won the Victoria Cross at Courtney's Post, Gallipoli, in a single-handed, bayonet fight with a body of Turks, and later gained further decorations in the fearful struggle at Pozieres and again at Bullecourt, besides being mentioned in despatches from Messines and Polygon Wood, have been often told.
He was four times wounded.
Jacka proved himself a natural leader of men, and those associated with him had always the (fullest confidence in his resourcefulness, bravery, determination, and common- sense. He returned as adjutant on the Euripides.
Private Ryan, V.C., joined the 'Kangaroos' at a Wagga in December, 1915.
He is 30 years of age, and prior to enlistment he was employed on N.S.W. rail way works. From his arrival in Egypt a few months after enlistment he served continuously in the field until wounded in the desperate fight at Bullecourt for the Hindenburg line on September 30 last year, shortly before the armistice.
For his courage and dash on that occasion he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
He had been one of the first to reach an enemy trench on the first assault.
There his daring and resource assisted to inspire his comrades, and in spite of heavy gunfire the enemy was overcome.
The enemy, however, counter attacked, and. establishing a bombing party in the rear of the trench, which was under fire from the front, made the position of the Australians very critical.
Ryan led the men with him in an attack on the bombers, finally reaching them with only three companions.
The small party did effective work with the bayonet, and when his three mates had fallen Ryan, left on the embankment alone, rushed the remainder of the enemy with bombs and routed them.
He was picked up wounded, but had saved the situation.
The Premier Welcomed Pte. John Ryan, V.C., Who also returned to Sydney by the Euripides. He belongs to Tumut and was the last Australian awarded the V.C. in the war.