The Ryan Banquet.
October 1919 Adelong and Tumut Express and Tumbarumba Post
The lower portion of O'Brien's Hall, Tumut, was laid out in splendid style in readiness for the banquet hold in honor of the arrival of Tumut's V.C. on Wednesday night. The tables were not only decorated for show, but abounded with choice viands to satiate the call of the inner-man, while
the surroundings were a grand sight to behold. The stage decorations were elaborate, on the front being Australia's true emblem - the emu and the kangaroo. When the merry throng took their seats a gay and picturesque sight met the eye of the observer. The first toast on the list was that of ' The King,' which was loyally honored.
Then followed 'Our Guest - Pte John Ryan, V.C,' in proposing which the Mayor (Ald A. E. Wilkinson) pointed out the great honor that had been conferred on the district by one of its members gaining the coveted V.C. The number of V.C's gained by Australians was greater than that of the British Army. At present there are only fifty of our V.C's living, and fourteen of them belong to N S. Wales. A man must accomplish something above the average to receive such distinction.
The V.C. they were welcoming was a young man of good character, possessing strong initiative, and should be one to succeed in the future. On behalf of the community, he wished Pte Ryan a hearty welcome. Mrs R. M- Thompson, as a representative of the Red Cross, was proud to add her quota of welcome. The day of the arrival of a V. C. was a glorious one in the annals of Tumut. She expressed the hope that the children would learn to realise thoroughly what a V.C. really is, and also conveyed to Pte Ryan the heartfelt thanks of the mothers for what men of his calibre had accomplished for them. Fr Devine (who apologised for the absence of Rev Frs Sharkey and Donihan) said that his absence from patriotic functions in the
past must be overlooked. It was because he loved his religion as well as his country. He considered it part of his duty to be present to pay his respects to such a person as Pte Ryan. As a Catholic he was proud of the guest, and he was positive the Protestants were equally proud. There's no difficulty in being religious and patriotic at the same time, and we in Australia should gather together and cement ourselves in one united band.
Pte Ryan, on rising, was greeted with deafening applause. He modestly thanked all for the reception. It gave him great pleasure to be back and see old smiling faces again. 'The Parents' was proposed by Mr, A. N. Stacy, and supported by Messrs P. Hal- loran and J. Sullivan, Mr. Michael Ryan responding.
'Lest we Forget' was in the capable hands of Rev C. E. Burgess, who said that we must not forget those whose graves are marked out West with a little cross. We have a great debt to pay those heroes - and that can be paid by seeing that every child in Australia is well cared for, and by doing all that we can to 'achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace.'
Rev. A. Hay Holden, in support, said ; Dr Johnson once remarked 'that a patriot is one whose ruling passion is the love of his country,' while Milton speaks of ' living to be brave men and worthy patriots.' It has been a great privilege for those living to-day to have experienced, in so marvellous a way, the truth so ably expressed. To have lived in a time when patriotism so profound was revealed in so many brave hearts - in hearts of Australia's noblest sons - was no small privilege.' 'The energy and resource of such men as Pte Ryan, V.C, reminds us of one of the stories of the Battle of Waterloo. One regiment was hard pressed and suffering seriously from the enemy's fire. Presently Wellington rode up and called out: 'Stand firm 93th ; we must not be beaten : what would they say in England ; stand firm!' It was an appeal to the manliness of his soldiers and to their Patriotism. The eye of their country was upon them. Whether charged by the cavalry or mowed down by the cannon, there must be no flinching. That was the spirit of our troops, and especially, it seems to me, of Private Ryan when he so heroically discharged those duties for which he received his eminent decoration, His motto must have been ' stand firm, we must not be beaten, the eye of Australia, yea of the whole world, is upon us.'
But I am speaking to the toast of 'Lest we forget.' How can we immortalise that patriotism and that endless fame which our men have won? In Sydney we shall have our Anzac Memorial; but what about Tumut? What more fitting memorial than a monument erected in the principal thoroughfare with the names of all our heroes inscribed there on and with the statue of Pte Ryan on the top in the act of throwing his last bomb?
Every time men passed they would recall the heroism of our boys, remember that our district sent a V.C. man, and we would appropriately exclaim, in words applied to Wolfe, the hero of Quebec ; - '
Hero first was Ryan, with martial ardour fired,
Here first with glory's highest flame inspired ;
This spot so sacred will forever claim
A proud alliance with its hero's name.'
With bowed heads, a verse of 'Nearer My God to Thee ' was sung.
Other toasts duly honored were: 'The Visitors,' proposed by Mr. J. Elphick and supported by Mr H, F. Ferris, Mr O'Hanlon responding ; ' The District,' by Mr J. R. Cooke, seconded 'by Mr. R M. Thompson and responded to by Mr J. Weedon ; ' The Ladies,' ably proposed by Lieut T. N. Learmont, who remarked at length on the excellent work that had been done for the welfare and comfort of the soldiers while serving the Empire. Pte Ted Malone als0 spoke a few words, saying that any soldier who did not love a woman could not be classed as a soldier. Cpl Alan Downing responded for the ladies. ' The Press ' was proposed by Dr Clouston, sup- ported by Mr Fred L. Baker and responded to by Messrs E. Watson and E. Howard. Pte Ryan proposed a hearty vote of thanks be accorded the Mayor for presiding, which was carried by acclimation.
The singing of 'Auld Lang Syne' and 'God Save the King' concluded the proceedings of a unique event. Apologies were received for the absence of the Gundagai Rod Cross, Crs Crain, Herlihy and Godfrey and Ald Emanuel. A telegram was received from 'Mr W. Peak (an old schoolmaster of Pte Ryan's) asking that his congratulations be conveyed to the winner of the V.C.
During the evening the following musical programme was executed; - Song, 'The Rose of No-man's Land.' Miss Beegling ; song, 'Mr Ain Folk,' Mr Alan Downing; song 'One of the Boys,' Mrs Ellis (Adelong) ; recitation by Mr W. T. Howitt.