No.643 Francis Philip Ryan
Francis Philip "Frank" Ryan was born in Camperdown, Victoria in 1886. He was single and working as a labourer in Werribee when he enlisted as a Private in Melbourne on 18 September 1914, shortly before his 28th birthday.
His mother, Mrs A Ryan of Kensington, Victoria, was named as his next of kin (his father, Peter Ryan, was deceased). Frank was described as 5 feet 5 ¾ inches tall, with brown eyes and black hair.
Frank was appointed to the 14th Battalion, part of the 4th Brigade commanded by Colonel John Monash. He trained at Broadmeadows before departing Melbourne on 22 December 1914, aboard the A38 Ulysses. He arrived in Egypt on 31 January 1915. There, the 4th Brigade became part of the New Zealand and Australian Division.
The Brigade landed at ANZAC Cove, Gallipoli, on 25 April 1915. During the Turks counter-attack on 19 May, Lance Corporal Albert Jacka of the 14th was awarded the AIF's first Victoria Cross. Jacka was eventually commissioned and the 14th became known as “Jacka’s Mob”. From May through to August 1915, the battalion was heavily involved in defending the front line and suffered heavy casualties.
In late August, Frank was stricken with dysentery. This was a prevalent disease at this time. The heat was severe, flies were plentiful, and water, which had to be brought in in water carts from Egypt, was scarce. Frank was treated at the 3rd Australian General Hospital in Mudros, on the Greek Island of Lemnos. He was discharged in late September, but was readmitted to hospital in October. He remained in Mudros until January 1916, when he returned to Egypt and re-joined his unit at Moascar. In March, he was promoted to Lance Corporal.
On 1 June 1916, the Battalion left Egypt bound for France and the Western Front. That same month, Frank was promoted to Corporal.
On 5 July 1916, Frank was wounded and subsequently admitted to hospital in Wimmereux. He was diagnosed with rheumatic fever and a few days later was shipped back to England and admitted to the 1st Eastern General Hospital in Cambridge. There, he was diagnosed with Nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys) and his next of kin was informed that he was ‘dangerously ill’. He underwent an operation on 21 July.
On 1 September 1916, Frank was transferred to Harefield Hospital in Middlesex (No 1 Australian Auxiliary Hospital) with a 'right kidney injury'. He was subsequently transferred to the Australian Command Depot No 2 in Weymouth, Middlesex, which accommodated most of the soldiers repatriated as a result of serious wounds or sickness.
In October 1916, Frank took the journey to nearby naval port Portland where he set sail back to Australia on HMAT Ajana on 17 October. He disembarked in Melbourne on 8 December and was discharged from the AIF as medically unfit (injured right kidney) on 24 January 1917.