b. 1839 Borrisoleigh, Ireland. d. 29/12/1864 Tuakau, New Zealand.
John Ryan (1839-1864) was born in Borrisoleigh, County Tipperary, Ireland. In order to escape poverty in his native Ireland, he enlisted with the 65th Regiment of Foot (later York & Lancaster Regiment), and following a promotion to Lance-Corporal, he was posted to serve in the Maori Wars in New Zealand.
On 7th September 1863, during the action at Cameron Town, New Zealand, Captain Swift was mortally wounded, and lying in the open, exposed to enemy fire. Lance-Corporal Ryan supported by Privates Bulford and Talbot, rushed out and carried the body of Captain Swift to nearby cover of a bush, and remained with him whilst the enemy surrounded them. Bulford and Talbot were awarded the DCM for their actions, and Ryan was awarded the VC.
Tragically, Ryan would not live to see the award of the VC, as on 29th December 1863, he drowned in the Waikato River when trying to rescue a drunken comrade who had fallen in. He was buried in an unmarked grave in the Alexandra Redoubt Commemorative Park Cemetery, Cameron Town. Less than a month later, his citation was published in the London Gazette. The VC was sent by registered post to his mother in Ireland. Sadly, due to financial issues, the family were forced to sell the medal in London in 1902 for £58. The medal is now held by the York & Lancaster Regimental Museum, Rotherham, Yorkshire.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: YORK AND LANCASTER RGT MUSEUM, ROTHERHAM.
BURIAL PLACE: ALEXANDRIA REDOUBT CEMETERY, TUAKAU, NEW ZEALAND. (UNMARKED)
NO IMAGE AVAILABLE