RYRIE, Sir Granville de Laune (1865-1937)

RYRIE, Sir Granville de Laune (1865-1937)
soldier and politician
was the son of Alexander Ryrie, for some years a member of the New South Wales parliament. Granville Ryrie was born on his father's station, Michelago, in the Monaro district, on 1 July 1865, and was educated at Mittagong and at The King's School, Parramatta. On leaving school he went on the land and at 18 years of age was in charge of a shed of 50 men. As a young man he was a fine heavyweight boxer, a first-rate bushman, and a perfect horseman. In a few years he became manager of Michelago station and raised a troop of light horse, and served with it. When the South African war broke out he enlisted and was given command of a squadron of the 6th Imperial Bushman. He led the advance guard at Eland River, was severely wounded at Wanderfontein in September 1900, and returned to Australia as lieutenant-colonel of his regiment.
In April 1906 Ryrie was elected to the New South Wales legislative assembly. He was defeated at the general election held in October 1910, but in March 1911 entered the federal house of representatives as member for North Sydney. When the 1914-18 war broke out he volunteered for service, and left Australia in December 1914 as temporary brigadier-general in command of the 2nd light horse. He was at first employed in the Suez Canal area where his men were trained. Ryrie himself had little love for military forms or textbooks, but he got to know his men and gained their affection and respect. He had a first-rate brigade-major, Captain Foster, a most skilful soldier, and between them the corps was trained to a high state of efficiency. In May 1915 it volunteered to leave its horses in Egypt and serve dismounted on Gallipoli. There Ryrie proved himself to be an excellent leader, capable of quickly understanding the realities of the situation, and, though of undoubted courage, unwilling to unnecessarily risk the lives of his men. On one occasion, in August 1915, when ordered to attack an enemy position, in conjunction with another commander he sent a letter pointing out the objections to the operation, which eventually was postponed. On 29 September he was severely wounded by a shell but returned from hospital early in November. After the evacuation of Gallipoli the campaign in the Sinai desert and Palestine followed. In the desert the work was done under the greatest disadvantages, with little equipment, inferior water, no facilities for sanitation, and irregular supplies of rations. In spite of these difficulties the light horse carried out much important reconnaisance work. At the time of the battle of Romani, in August 1916, Ryrie was in England on short leave, but his brigade did effective work in his absence. At the first battle of Gaza in March 1917 Ryrie and his men were actually entering Gaza when he received orders to withdraw. Ryrie considered that the Turks were demoralized and the position won, but he had to obey orders, though he bluntly told the staff officer that he would not withdraw until every trooper of his scattered forces had been collected. He was under Allenby in the advance on and capture of Jerusalem in December 1917, and in the subsequent campaign in 1918. He was given command of the Australian division in Syria and later commanded all the Australians in Egypt. He was promoted major-general in 1919, and was transferred to reserve of officers in 1920.
On his return to Australia Ryrie took up his parliamentary work again, and was assistant-minister of defence in the Hughes (q.v.) cabinet from February 1920 to February 1923. He was temporary chairman of committees from February 1926 to March 1927, member of the joint committee of public accounts from January 1926 to March 1927, and chairman from July 1926. In April 1927 he succeeded Sir Joseph Cook as high commissioner for Australia in London, the first Australian native to hold that position. In 1932 he returned to Australia and lived in retirement at Michelago until his death on 2 October 1937. He married in 1896, Mary Frances Gwendolyn, daughter of judge McFarland of Sydney, who survived him with a son and two daughters. During his military career he was wounded three times and was five times mentioned in dispatches. He was created C.M.G. in 1916, C.B. in 1918, and K.C.M.G. in 1919.
Ryrie was a great soldier. Bluff in speech, and full of humour, courage and common sense, he gained and deserved the complete trust of the men under his command. A typical bushman, and in spite of his 16 stone, a perfect horseman, he had an unequalled knowledge of horses and men. In politics he was sound, honest and efficient with a scorn of finesse and intrigue.
Official History of Australia in the War, 1914-18, vols. I, II, VII; The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 October 1937; Commonwealth Parliamentary Handbook, 1901-30; Debrett's Peerage, etc., 1936.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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  • Granville Ryrie — Infobox Military Person name= Sir Granville Ryrie lived= 1 July 1865 ndash;2 October 1937 placeofbirth= Michelago, New South Wales placeofdeath= Sydney, New South Wales caption= Major General Ryrie after his return to Australia in 1919.… …   Wikipedia

  • Ryrie — /ˈraɪri/ (say ruyree) noun 1. Sir Granville de Laune, 1865–1937, Australian soldier, politician, and diplomat. 2. William, Australian wine grower; established Victoria s first commercial vineyard in 1838 …  

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