Memorial to V.C. Hero

28 April 1981 Tumut & Adelong Times

Private John Ryan, awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery in action against the Hindenburg defences in 1918, is the subject of an impressive memorial which has just been completed at the Tumut R.S.L. Club.

The sculpture was originally the brainchild of Mr Steve Murphy of Tumut, and it was Mr Jim Beattie who took up the idea and organised the magnificent diorama which now stands in the northern corner up the auditorium foyer.

The diorama depicts the action in which Private John Ryan, who had left Blowering to join the 1st AIF, earned himself the highest brav­ery awards. Special lighting has also been used to highlight several photos showing scenes at the Hindenburg line and also Baron von Richthofen's funeral (the latter having been supplied by Fred, Johnson. Ryan's Cita­tion is also prominently displayed.

The diorama was the final project of Mr Don Evans who has now retired after completing many similar works for the Australian War Museum in Canberra.

The Citation, recorded first in the London Gazette of December 26th, 1918 tells the story of Private Ryan's gallantry:

"For most conspicuous bravery and devo­tion to duty during an attack against the Hindenburg defences of September 30, 1918. In the initial assault on the enemy's position, Private Ryan went for­ward with great dash and determination and was one of the first to reach the enemy trench. His exceptional skill and daring inspired his comrades and, despite heavy fire, the hostile garrison was soon over­run and the trench occu­pied. The enemy then counter-attacked, and succeeded in establishing a bombing party in the rear of the position. Under fire from front and rear, the position was critical, and necessi­tated prompt action. Quickly appreciating the situation, he organised and led the men near him with bomb and bay­onet against the enemy bombers, finally reach­ing the position with only three men. By skil­ful bayonet work his small party succeeded in killing the first three Germans on the enemy's flank, then, moving along the embankment, Private Ryan alone rushed the remainder with bombs. He fell wounded after he had driven back the enemy, who suffered heavily as they retired across No Man's Land. A particu­larly dangerous situation had been saved by this gallant soldier, whose example of determined bravery and initiative was an inspiration to all".

Many ex-soldiers who saw the diorama follow­ing last Saturday's Anzac Day March for the first time were full of admiration for its fine workmanship and authenticity. It is believed the R.S.L. Club has insured the diorama for $15,000.

John Ryan was born in Tumut and enlisted at Wagga on December 1, 1915, joining the group known as the "Kangar­oos" which marched the 300 miles to Sydney, collecting recruits en route.

He embarked as a reinforcement to the 55th Battalion on June 14 1916, and travelled to the United Kingdom via Egypt, landing France in early September.

He joined the Battalion on September 23 and remained with that force until September 30 when he wounded in the above action. He rejoined the fighting force in Early December, but after another period in hospital was returned to Australia in September 1919, being discharged from the army in Sydney on January 10, 1920.

He died in the Royal Melbourne Hospital on June 3, 1941. He was accorded a full military funeral, which was attended by eight other Victoria Cross recipients and many comrades from his war days.

He was survived at the time by two brothers and a sister.