Matthew Francis Ryan

August 4, 2015

RYAN, Matthew Francis- – – SPC 1910-1915

DoB:- – 1895, Learmonth, VIC

Father:- – Matthew John Ryan

Mother:- – Margaret Agnes, nee Sheahan

Matthew Francis Ryan was one of seven children born to Matthew John Ryan and Margaret Agnes Sheahan. Matthew John was widely known and esteemed in the Ballarat area, and spent the greater part of his life in the service of the public. He worked as a Ballarat Shire President and Councillor from 1897 to 1953, when he retired. His outstanding service was recognised when a plaque recording his eight tenures as President was placed in the council chambers at Learmonth.

Service No:- 1457

Rank:- – Private

Unit:- – 8th Australian Light Horse

Matthew Ryan enlisted for service on 12 July 1915, with the written permission of his father. He was 20 years old, five feet, seven inches tall, with a fair complexion, greenish eyes and auburn hair. He was a single man who worked as a farmer in the Learmonth area, near Ballarat.

He embarked from Melbourne aboard the Clan McCorquodale on 13 November 1915, arriving in Egypt some weeks later where he was attached to the 11th Reinforcements (8th Light Horse). The training that Private Ryan did with the Light Horse would have included tending to the horses. On 3 April 1916, his service file records that he -‘refused to go on stable picquet after being warned’. These duties would have included mucking out the stables, and feeding, watering and grooming the horses. The reason Ryan refused these duties is not mentioned, but he received 72 hours Field Punishment and forfeited three days’ pay for this disobedience.

Later that year, in July 1916, Private Ryan spent often treated for various illnesses at the Base Hospital. It was reported that he was absent from duty for 49 days. He was well enough to be transferred back to the 8th Light Horse by the middle of October.

It seemed that Ryan was also afflicted with fevers, bouts of influenza, gastritis and diarrhoea throughout the time he served in Egypt. He was recorded as being admitted repeatedly to hospitals and convalescent camps, before finally being discharged to his unit. However not long after he was admitted to the hospital again. One can imagine how exhausting and debilitating it must have been to be constantly sick -“ perhaps it was not surprising that by March 1918 he had to be disciplined for -‘neglect to the prejudice of good order and military discipline’. He was deprived of 14 days’ pay on that occasion.

On 3 July 1919, Private Matthew Ryan left Egypt aboard the Malta for his return to Australia. He reached Melbourne the following month, and was discharged from the AIF on 29 September 1919.

When he returned from the war, Matthew Ryan returned to farming, establishing himself in Waubra on his property, Willowdale. He married Mary Kathleen Kieley and together they had five children, Matthew John, Sheila, Aileen Mary, Kevin, and Lynette. Matthew’s eldest son, Matthew John worked the farm with his father, and the property successfully ran dairy cattle, sheep, potatoes and other crops. When Matthew John died at a relatively young age, due to cancer, his younger brother, Kevin returned to Waubra to manage the farm. After Kevin’s death, the three sisters sold the property.

One of Matthew Francis’ daughters, Aileen Mary married and had two children, Ken and Elaine. Like his grandfather, Ken attended St Patrick’s College between 1960 and 1965. Ken was involved with the College Cadets, attaining the rank of Non Commissioned Officer, Warrant Officer 1 in his final year. Ken considered a military career at Duntroon, but instead embarked on a long and productive career in the Federal Public Service, and later in property management.-

Matthew Francis Ryan remained in the Waubra area for the remainder of his life. His wife Mary Kathleen died in May 1969 at the age of 68. Matthew died two years later, in August 1971, aged 76. They are both buried at the Ballarat New Cemetery.