1918-2008: Ninety Years of Remembrance

Soldier Record

William Ryan

Contributed by: heather barrett, on 2008-11-08

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Rank
First Name William
Surname Ryan
Year of Birth 1873
Year of Death 1915
Regiment Royal Berkshire Regiment
Place of Wartime Residence reading, Berkshire

William's Story

William Ryan came out of retirement after joining the Royal Berkshires at age of 14 as a drummer boy. He was the son of a regular soldier, born in Calcutta, India, where his father was also a CSM in 16th regt foot. He became an orphan at 11 and we think was sent back to UK to be educated at an army school in London. His service records show he was in service in South Africa and Afghanistan, being retired from the army early 1900, last posting Curragh, Ireland.

My grandfather's body has never been found

He returned to London's East End, married and had two boys, one being my father. He rejoined the army in 1914 after working as a commissionaire in London, travelling to Reading to train soldiers in 1914. His regiment 8th Batallion, Royal Berks left UK on 7th August 1914 for France. They travelled by foot through France billeting in farmhouses in the Loos area. The army records state that the troops were exemplary in their turnout and behaviour around the villages.

The 8th Battallion engaged the Germans from trenches outside Loos on 25th September at about 6 am. Gas was used for the first time but the trench system and wind caused the gas to blow back into the British troops with tragic consequences. My grandfather's body has never been found. He left a wife Jane, my dad aged three and his brother under one. My dad did not really know much about his dad as my grandmother never spoke about the war, but starting with the Commonwealth War Graves site my brother and I have found out about William Kennedy and are very proud of him, but feel truly sad that after years of regular service and finally retirement, marriage and a family of his own that his happiness should be so short lived. A further irony is that one of his sons was born on 11/11/11, an Armistice Day he never lived to see. Eighty years after his death in France we visited his beautiful memorial in Loos, France.

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