No. 38047 Gunner Albert Ryan
Albert Ryan was born in Carlton, Melbourne on 14 April 1893, the son of John and Jane Ryan. At some point, the family moved to Werribee, which was to become Albert’s home for the rest of his life - first at Synnot Street and then in College Road after the war.
At the time of his enlistment on 24 April 1917, Albert was working as an engine driver. He was assigned as a Gunner to the 31st Reinforcements in the AIF’s Field Artillery Brigade. His early training was carried out at Maribyrnong, Melbourne, which was also home to the largest munitions complex in the country. During the war years, the Maribyrnong facility produced more than two million .303 rounds a year to feed the AIF’s Lee-Enfield rifles.
After basic training, Gunner Ryan left Melbourne in November 1917 and disembarked in Alexandria, Egypt in mid-December. The unit was then shipped to England in January 1918 where the artillerymen received further training at the Lark Hill Camp on Salisbury Plains.
On his arrival in France in June 1918, he joined the 51st Battery of the 13th Field Artillery Brigade, which formed part of the AIF’s Fifth Division.
The Brigade had been formed after the evacuation of Gallipoli and comprised the 49th, 50th and 51st Field Artillery Batteries, the 113th Field Artillery (Howitzer) Battery, and the 13th Brigade Ammunition Column.
Each artillery battery was equipped with 18-pounder field guns. The name derived from the weight of the projectile, and each projectile could be fired almost six kilometres.
By the time that Gunner Ryan and his mates reached France, Germany was on the back foot. Its spring offensive was grinding to a halt and the allies were set to launch its own offensive to drive the Germans out of France. It became known as the 100-Day Offensive and was launched with one of the biggest artillery barrages of the war at the Battle of Amiens on 8 August 1918.
Within a month, there were just two Australian Divisions left in the field, one of which was the Fifth. Attrition and casualties had finally taken their toll and a number of battalions with proud histories throughout the war were disbanded to make up the shortfall.
The Fifth Division was pulled out of the line on 5 October 1918 when it was relieved by the United States’ Army II Corps. Australian servicemen were sent to the coast and sat out the remaining month or so of the war.38047 Gunner Albert Ryan returned to Australia in July 1919 and was demobilised in September.
He returned to Werribee and took up his job as an engine driver. He married Myrtle Mary Lawrence, a Footscray girl, in 1923. They were to have three children:
- Lawrence Ryan
- Dorothy Ryan
- Raymond Ryan
Albert Ryan died on 28 August 1957 aged 63. His wife Myrtle died in 1963, aged 71.
Medals and Entitlements:
- British War Medal
- Victory Medal
Lest we forget
NAA: B2455, RYAN ALBERT