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Sir Granville de Laune Ryrie

(1865—1937) army officer and politician in Australia


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(1 July 1865–2 October 1937). Ryrie joined the volunteer movement as a trooper, and was commissioned in the 1st Australian Horse in 1898. He served in the Boer War with the 6th (New South Wales) Imperial Bushmen in 1900–01, and was wounded at Wonderfontein. He returned to Australia and continued to pursue a part-time military career; by 1904 he was the commanding officer of his unit, now reorganised and designated the 3rd Light Horse Regiment. He stood for the New South Wales parliament, successfully, in 1906, and for two federal seats, unsuccessfully, in 1910, but won the seat of North Sydney in the elections of 1911. Ryrie was given command of the 2nd Light Horse Brigade of the AIF in September 1914. At first the light horse remained in Egypt when the rest of the AIF sailed for Gallipoli, but in May they were sent forward as reinforcements in response to the heavy casualties suffered in the first weeks of fighting. Ryrie was wounded twice during the campaign, and spent much of his time in the forward positions sharing the hardships and dangers of his soldiers. After the evacuation from Gallipoli, the light horse brigades were reorganised and became the striking arm of the forces detailed for the conquest of Sinai, Palestine and Syria. The 2nd Brigade took part in the long advance of the Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division, which began with the defeat of the Turkish offensive at Romani in August 1916 and culminated in the crossing of the Jordan in September 1918, participating along the way in the battles of Gaza, Beersheba and Es Salt, and the capture of Amman (see Palestine campaign). He was appointed KCMG in 1919 and returned to Australia where he continued his political career, including a period as Assistant Minister for Defence between 1920 and 1921. He commanded the 1st Cavalry Division from 1921 to 1927, when he retired from the CMF. In that year he became High Commissioner in London, and in this capacity he represented Australia at the League of Nations. He returned to Australia and retired from public life in 1932. Ryrie was a ‘soldier's soldier’, blunt in manner and speech, a thoroughgoing Tory in politics and sentiment. Nicknamed ‘Bull’, he was a solid, courageous, uncomplicated man ideally suited to regimental command. Both Lieutenant-General H. B. Walker and Lieutenant-General Sir Harry Chauvel doubted his capacity for higher command, which explains his failure to gain promotion during the war, and as a brigade commander he was reliant on his staff to a considerable degree, especially on Gallipoli where his brigade major was the talented young regular officer, Captain W. J. Foster.

From The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Military History.


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