Michael Ryan

Michael Ryan medal card

Roll shows that this is the right man, but oddly no personal details are given. No age given on roll. On a list of 2nd Connaught Rangers men sent to Zossen. 7784 Private M Ryan, 129 King St, Plymouth. They only went to Zossen if they were in the Irish Brigade. He is not in Plymouth in 1901 census. Keogh has him as Michael Ryan of Limerick (but Keogh was always keen to show them all as Irish), and Casement has him as a labourer before enlisting. He is the only man not to have an age or any details on next of kin in the Roll Book, nor are there any details in the USA list.

1903 From his service number he enlisted about May 1903, which in turn points to a birth about 1886

1911 The address of 129 King St is a boarding house. No Ryans, Mary A Butland, aged 31, Lodging House Keeper and her 4 children were living there, also a few servants and various boarders. This was a property of 11 rooms and 26 people (4 females and 22 males) were recorded at this address.

1914 Taken prisoner, and followed the rest of the Irish Brigade through Limburg, Zossen and Danzig

1915 Nov 19. Hahn writes to Casement asking him to authorise the removal of a number of men for drunkeness and /or insubordination, adding that Dowling and Quinlisk agree with this request. He is on that list, but Casement did not act on it

1915 Dec. Did not volunteer for Egypt.

1917 Jan 10. They had a hut inspection one day from an American official, who they mistook for someone from Dublin, and gave him information about themselves that they should not have give. Soon after this the NCOs appear to have drawn up a black list of grumblers and men branded as English. And some days later a fully armed section of German troops entered the barracks, and the Irish Brigade NCOs seemed aware of what was happening. Nine or ten names were read out, and the men ordered to have their kit ready to leave in 5 minutes. They were then marched out of the camp under guard and into as Rahilly says "slavery", a punishment camp. A letter that Burke wrote to Gaffney about their treatment confirms the state of affirs given by Rahilly, and one can arrive at list the men sent to the punishment camp from putting together information from Burke and O'Toole, plus the official list from Hahn gives:-

1917 Jan 30. Hahn to Gaffney. Talks about "problem" men

They went by train and road until they found themselves in a hut built near a river at Quadsow (now Kwasowo in Poland) in a wilderness. Quadsow was a punishment camp, and I am not clear how these men had been selected to be taken there. This was their home. They slept on damp mud and the walls of the hut were damp. They worked from dawn to dusk, reinforcing the banks of the river. All they ever had for meals were hot drinks, no food. Two months later 5 of these men returned (these must have been Fulford, McMahon, McCabe, Patrick Keogh, Thomas McGrath, P Carr). Their appearance had changed, they were now bearded and pale, their eyes full of fear, their bodies bloated from hot drinks but no food. They were bullied by the guards, butted with rifles. Later that evening of their return Rahilly found that one had cut his own throat with a rusty razor. He made a recovery, but not a full recovery, and died later in 1918 "during the armistice". This man has to be Gunner Carr as he is the only man whose death fits - 15 Sep 1918

1918 Aug 23. FO383/395 contains information regarding the trial of two Irish prisoners, Jeremiah Callaghan and Michael Ryan, at Danzig Troyl for serious wounding and resistance to authority. Basically the neutral observers were barred from either defending the men, or even observing the trial. The original sentence of 9 months for resistence and 2 weeks for disorderly conduct were appealed and by late August the sentence had been reduced to 3 months plus 2 weeks. The full file is here

O'Toole when he was debriefed gives a list of men whom he says left Danzig camp soon after the armistice, insisting on going to a POW camp in order to be transported home. He appears on O'Toole's list

1919 Sep 12 discharged as class Z Reserve

1921 Sep 15 his 14 Star with clasp and roses was re-issued. So he does not appear to have forfeited his medals.

Dead by 1960

Recruits to Irish Brigade