No.5448 Private John Joseph Patrick (Paddy) Ryan
[Not to be confused with Ryan, J.]
"Paddy" was the youngest son of Mr N.T. Ryan. He had an older brother who served in the British Army, and a married sister Mrs D. "Kate' Thomson of Werribee. Other military members of his family were two nephews, who also served with the A.I.F. during the First World War. They were the sons of David and Kate Thomson; No 3004, Driver D.J. Thomson, and No 4586, Private J.W. Thomson.
Before the war "Paddy" worked as a labourer, and made several attempts to enlist before he was successful. His place of birth is uncertain as he claimed to be from Tipperary in Ireland when he first enlisted, and changed it to Werribee, Victoria, on his final enlistment. There is no record of his birth in Victoria.
1st Enlistment in 1915
John "Paddy" Ryan first enlisted in the A.I.F., at the Melbourne Show Grounds on 19 July 1915. He was placed with the 12th Depot Battalion, but was not given a service number or appointed to a Unit. This would have happened once he finished his basic training.
On his Attestation Papers he claimed that he was 33 years old, and that he had been born at Tipperary, Ireland. He was only 5 feet 2½” high, and he stated that he had previously been rejected for service because of his height.
Whilst at the Show Grounds, on the 18 September 1915, he was charged with three offences.
1. Absent without Leave. Fined 2/6
2. Using insulting language to an officer. Fined 5/-
3. Bringing intoxicating liquor into camp. Awarded 7 days confined to Barracks
The A.I.F. assessed his performance on the 18 January 1916, and discharged him as Unlikely to become an efficient soldier.
2nd Enlistment in 1916
Despite his earlier rejection by the Army, John "Paddy" Ryan again re-enlisted at Melbourne just two weeks later. He failed to mention in his Attestation Papers that he had previously been discharged 2 weeks earlier. He changed his place of birth to Werribee, Victoria, but his next of kin was still Mrs Thomson (his sister), of the Police Paddock in Werribee. His age was the same. He also stated that he had previously been rejected because of his height. On both applications his height was measured as 5’ 2½”.
On completion of his training at the 4th Depot Battalion, Broadmeadows Camp, he was appointed to the 8th Battalion, 17th reinforcements.
The 8th Infantry Battalion – 13 to 23 Reinforcements embarked from Melbourne on 04 April 1916 per HMAT Euripides A14, bound for Egypt. He arrived at No 2 Training Battalion at Suez, per Euripides on 15 April 1916, and there he undertook further training.
After two months he embarked from Alexandria on 31 May 1916, bound for England.
He arrived at Plymouth per H.M.T. Huntgreen on 12 June 1916, and spent time with the 2nd Training Battalion. At the completion of his training, the reinforcements embarked from Folkstone on 17 December 1916, bound for France. They arrived at 1st Australian Divisional Base Depot (A.D.B.D.) at Etables Camp, France on 18 December 1916.
Almost a week later he joined the 8th Battalion on 24 December 1916 in the Somme Valley, in Northern France.
"Paddy" Ryan only saw two months service before he was killed in Action on 3 March 1917, at Flers. The fighting was part of the German Spring offensive of 1917.
The Battalion War Diary records that his unit was in the vicinity of Bull’s Run and Lusenhot Farm near Flers. He was in the line with "A" Company (comprising of Lieutenant William Catron and five Other Ranks) when a German mine exploded in their dugout, and all six soldiers were killed.
He and his comrades were buried in the Bull’s Road Military Cemetery, Flers, 3 and a ¼ miles N.N.W. of Conbles, France.
An Obituary was published in the local press mentions his quiet nature, and the details of his other family members who also fought in the war. Werribee Shire Banner, 5 April 1917, p.2.
A further report of Paddy’s death and burial was published in local press in the form of a letter to his sister, from one of his former Commanding Officers. It describes the esteem in which he was held by his fellow soldiers, the burial ceremony, and his grave. He concluded his letter with the following quote: "we are consoled and comforted by the thought that we may again meet our loved ones in that place from where no traveller e're returneth".
Werribee Shire Banner, 24 May 1917, p.2.
Medals and entitlements:
- Where the Australian’s Rest Pamphlet issued 22 December 1921
- Photo of Grave sent 3 December 1920
- British War Medal issued
- Victory Medal issued
- Memorial Plaque issued
- Memorial Scroll issued
Werribee Cenotaph entry states: “RYAN J.J.P.”