Harold Ryan and WW1, our great uncle

Harold was born of James and Susan ( Cue )Ryan and was our grandmother’s ( Kath’s) Uncle. Unlike others who were born in Victoria, Harold was born in Brisbane, QLD in 1876. When he joined the war efforts in 1914 he was the manager of The Bank of Australia, QLD. Although his address for the war was through the Sydney office.

James and Susan Cue  took him back to Walhalla as he must have grown up there and was four years in the Walhalla Rifles Club. He was 38 years and 5 months when he joined in 1914 and obviously moved from Walhalla for work in Brisbane. By the time he joined, his mother Susan Cue Ryan was living in Maffra Victoria. ( His father James had died ).

What I have noticed about all the Ryan boys is that they were very short. Harold was only 5′ 5 3/4 ” with fresh complexion , black hair and blue eyes. They seemed to be all Church of England.

Harold joined the 2nd Battalion of the Tropical Forces, Rabaul, New Britain.

harold ryan enlistment

harold ryan page 2

harold ryan page 4

harold ryan page 9

The 2nd Battalion was raised at Randwick, New South Wales, in August 1914 as part of the Australian Imperial Force(AIF), which was formed from volunteers for overseas service shortly after the outbreak of the First World War.[2] Drawing the majority of its personnel from the MaitlandNewcastle and Hunter Valley regions of the state of New South Wales,[3][4]the battalion formed part of the 1st Brigade and, along with the 1st3rd and 4th Battalions,[5] it was one of the first infantry units raised by Australia following its entry in to the war.[6]

Harold Ryan WW1: went to New Britain with the second infantry tropical unit , embarked November 28th, 1914. ( Service number 96).Harold was 38 and a bank officer. His address upon embarking was c/- Bank of Australia Inspector’s office, Sydney .

rabaul wharf 1914

By 1884 The Germans had colonized the north eastern part of New Guinea and several nearby island groups. By the outbreak of the war, the Germans had been using the colony as a wireless radio base, and supported the German East Asia Squadron which threatened merchant shipping in the region. Britain required the wireless installations to be destroyed. The Kennedy regiment from Queensland  , a task force , was sent to Rabaul on 11/9/1914.  And the British took over Rabaul from the Germans as the Germans surrendered. ( Not without  a fight).The administrative structure of the 2/3rd Battalion, remained throughout the period of the military occupation. Although required by law to follow the German forms of government, the territory gradually acquired the appearance of a British colony.

Garrison Rabaul club

Garrison Rabaul club – how jolly.

Harold was employed at the Native Affairs Dept. and in September 1915 was promoted to Sargeant , at that time in  Administrative duty. ( He was promoted “WO” – Warrant Officer, in February 1916).His records state he was employed in the Active Police Dept. in 1915. He was collecting taxes on the islands around New Guinea.

He returned to Australia on the Marrinda disembarked Brisbane 14/4/1917.

harold ryan 20 dec 1916 in Maffra Spectator January 1917

Above is the letter he wrote to the Maffra Spectator from around the Admiralty Islands. As a tax collector quote: “I began to think that tax collecting in these parts was not all beer and skittles ‘!


Admiralty Islands: 

Between 1884 and 1914 the area was administered as a German colony. In November 1914, the islands were occupied by troops of the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force landed from the SS Siar. A few shots fired from a machine gun on Siar over the heads of the tiny German garrison at Lorengau were the last shots fired in the battle. After the war, the islands were governed by the Commonwealth of Australia under a League of Nations mandate.[7]

We have no record of Harold having family.

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