John Matthew Ryan was born in Clarkes Hill, Victoria, was single and a Student in Ballarat when he enlisted in the 24th Battalion, 13th Reinforcement on 20 January 1916 at the age of 18. His unit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A32 Themistocles on 28 July 1916. He was admitted to hospital briefly for scabies on 24 February 1917 and, after being transferred to the 2nd D.R.S. was discharged back to duty. On 6 October 1917 he was wounded in action with shrapnel from a shell explosion tearing into his scalp, face and shoulder. He was evacuated to the 12th General Hospital in Rouen, France, and transferred to England until he was fit to re-join his unit on 4 January 1918. He was wounded in action a second time with exposure to mustard gas on 8 August 1918 and a third time in October. In December he was admitted to the 1st Australian Clearing Station in Havre, France, and later admitted to the 3rd Auxiliary Hospital in Dartford before returning home to Australia aboard the Medic on 10 April 1919.
Tree No. 2675