From the Myrrhee State School Roll of Honour. Courtesy of Evan Evans
Trooper Edward John Bryan +
Pakenham & District War Memorial & Pakenham State School Roll of Honour
Born: April 1894, Greta West, Victoria
Enlisted: 26 January 1915 aged 21
Unit: 8th Light Horse, 6th Reinforcement (SERN: 1128)
Served: Egypt, Gallipoli & Palestine
Died whilst on active duty: 26 August 1918, Port Said Egypt.
Edward John (known to his family as “Jack”) was the second of the Bryan brothers to enlist, doing so a few weeks after his brother Tom. Jack attended Myrrhee State School near Greta prior to his family settling at Pakenham South. He then attended Pakenham State School before becoming a farmer like his father and brothers (1). Jack seems to have made a name for himself in cycling, as the South Bourke & Mornington Journal commented that “his smart performances on the wheel were greatly admired in the cycling world of Victoria” (2). Jack was initially assigned to “N” Squadron, Light Horse, before being allocated to the 13th Light Horse 1st Reinforcement at Broadmeadows Army Camp in June 1915. He was later assigned to the 8th Light Horse Regiment 6th Reinforcement. Jack and several other volunteers were presented with watches and farewelled at Koo Wee Rup in April (2a). He embarked from Melbourne on the HMAT Kyarra on 28 August 1915 bound for Egypt. By this time, his brother Tom had been killed at Gallipoli. Jack himself served for a few weeks at Gallipoli until the Anzacs were evacuated in December 1915. Jack remained with Australian forces in the Middle East, but was in and out of hospital several times during the rest of the War, including for septic sores, enteritis and diarrhoea. He did manage to complete a Hotchkiss machine gun course at the Imperial School of Instruction in Egypt though (3).
In August 1918, John was admitted to hospital with malignant malaria and acute atrophy of the liver. He died at the 31 General Hospital in Port Said, Egypt and was buried in the Cairo Military Cemetery (4). Jack passed away just a few days after the Pakenham South community had presented Margaret Bryan with a medal in honour of her late son Tom (4a). When Margaret heard the news of Jack’s death, she collapsed into an unconscious state and died 15 days later (5). John’s effects were returned to his father, who by 1919 was living in Garfield. These included a Turkish belt and buckle, a tin containing photographs, a money belt, cigarette holder, pair of binoculars, two medallions, watch, postcards, letters, three cards containing pressed flowers (perhaps from his mother or a sweet-heart back home) and an Arabic language book (6). In addition to the Pakenham War Memorial, Jack’s service was also remembered on the Pakenham State School Honour Board (where he is listed as “Bryan J”), the Koo Wee Rup Honour Board [where he is listed as “J. Bryant”] (7), the Myrrhee State School Roll of Honour and at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
The assistance of Robyn Kilgour of Myrrhee Primary School , Evan Evans and Faithe Jones is gratefully acknowledged.
(1) (3) (4) & (6) NAA B2455, BRYAN E J
(2) South Bourke & Mornington Journal 10/6/1915, p. 3
(2a) Lang Lang Guardian 21/4/1915 p. 3. This article confuses Tom and Jack Bryan as Jack embarked on 28/8/1915.
(4a) SBMJ 5/9/1918 p. 2
(5) Benalla Standard 20/9/1918, p. 3
(7) Lang Lang Guardian 14/2/1917, p. 2