Thirteen to be commemorated
They served their country in different wars and are not buried side by side, but the Ryan brothers will soon get a permanent reminder of their sacrifice.
Tawa’s $170,000 memorial has broken ground and it is expected to be opened with an official ceremony on April 22, before being the focus of the suburb’s Anzac Day commemorations three days later.
Historian Bruce Murray said among the 13 names that will be on the three bronze plaques of servicemen from the Tawa district who died in the South African, First and Second World wars, brothers Thomas and Denis Ryan are worth recalling.
‘‘These were guys, the youngest of a big family, who were farmers making a difference in this area, but they felt the pull of serving the mother country [Britain] when the call came.
‘‘Trooper Denis Ryan had to pay for his own horse and his own way to South Africa in 1899 - it was a different world then, with such an exuberance about the Empire.’’
A member of the 1st Contingent to South Africa, Ryan was in action in the Cape Colony, but it wasn’t wounds that put his life in peril.
The 20-year-old contracted dysentery and, in hospital, it was discovered he had diabetes.
‘‘Insulin wasn’t discovered until 1921, so he was in trouble,’’ Murray said.
Invalided home, Ryan was received as a hero at Porirua Rail- way Station on October 28, 1900, there was a procession through Tawa Flat for him, but he died on October 30.
Thomas Ryan also went to South Africa, but arrived in February, 1902, and the war finished a month later.
Farming in Tawa Flat from 1902 onwards, he was 39 when he decided to enlist in 1916, during WWI.
Murray said although Ryan had flat feet, his medical exam at Trentham stated Ryan ‘‘does hard bush work and never tires’’.
A rifleman in France, Ryan died at Fremincourt in August, 1918.
He is buried at Bancourt British Cemetery in France.
Of the 13 names on the memorial, two served in the South African War, five in WWI and six in WWII. The youngest was 19 and the oldest 45.
Murray said it was wonderful to see the memorial, being built adjacent to Grasslees Reserve, under way.
The graves of brothers Denis, left, and Thomas Ryan (a headstone only) at Porirua Cemetery.