From the Publication Volunteers from Eire who have won Distinctions while serving with the British Forces:

[From medal recommendation]:

“[24th Guards Brigade, 1st British Division, 6 American Corps

2718210 Guardsman James RYAN, 1st Battalion IRISH GUARDS]

Guardsman James Ryan, Irish Guards, was awarded the Military Medal.

In the ANZIO beachhead during the period February 21st - 25th, 1944, this Guardsman was driver of a jeep attached to rear battalion headquarters.  Owing to the difficulty of communications, the number of casualties and the difficulty of getting ambulances forward, this Guardsman was used to take messages from rear to forward battalion headquarters, and more frequently his jeep became an improvised ambulance.  These tasks involved driving by day and by night, up roads continually shelled and swept by small-arms fire.  Never once did he show the slightest hesitation to undertake the most hazardous journey, and never once did he fail to get through. 

On the morning of February 22, the forward company reported that there were numerous casualties from enemy machine-guns and tanks.  Guardsman RYAN volunteered to the Medical Officer to go up to this forward position to collect the wounded.  He drove up to a farmhouse completely overlooked and at times occupied by the enemy, parked his jeep, and went forward on foot to find and carry back wounded men.  He then ran a one-man ferry service back to the Regimental Aid Post, which involved at least six journeys under close enemy fire, and then another ferry service from the Regimental Aid Post to the Advanced Dressing Station as no ambulances were available. 

For three days Guardsman RYAN devoted himself to this duty with an endurance, courage and unhesitating acceptance of danger that astonished and won the admiration of all who saw him.  It was not until the end that a Red Cross flag could be obtained for him to fly on his jeep.  His continual appearance surprised everybody, for as he set out on each journey nobody expected to see him again.

He was the greatest possible assistance to the Medical Officer, and there is no doubt that at least 12 wounded men owe their lives to his outstanding gallantry and subordination of his own safety to the welfare of his comrades.

[I consider that this Guardsman's conduct during these 4 ays deserves a strong recommendation for the immediate award of the Military Medal.

Signed C.A. Montagu-Douglas-Scott, Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding 1st Battalion IRISH GUARDS


Guardsman RYAN was born at LAHINCH, Co. CLARE.”

Click here to view 1Bn group photo, Chelsea Barracks, 1944

Sources: TNA; The Times