Denis Robert RYAN






Drowned after being washed overboard whilst transferring police horses from the steamship Katoomba to the Mainland near Port Douglas 22/4/1881. He is mentioned in a Townsville Police report written by the Snr Sgt 30.3.1881 as having attended an incident on Ross Island and newspaper reports mention him in charge of police horses with information obtained directly from the telegram to the Assistant Commissioner. He was attached to duty with a fellow Constable, John Allen (no. 357) and the report from Allen describing Ryan’s death endorsed by Sen Constable Farquhar (No. 397) is printed in the Brisbane Courier, 6 May 1881. The file of Constable Allen testifies Townsville, Cooktown and Port Douglas as areas of service. Most probably for mounted escort duty for bullion reference (Gold Escort allowance). This would collaborate the service of Ryan as both seem to have joined at the same time ( based on almost sequential service numbers) and served in the same places. Allen left the service 18 days after the incident and Farquhar resigned seven weeks later. In the newspaper reports there is the following account of the incident. Constables Ryan and Allen took a lighter to meet the steamer Katoomba from Brisbane and collect a number of Police horses. There is confirmation as to 11 horses being delivered at this time in the entries of the Police stud diary Cooktown district. The lighter returned to the shore but was caught in a heavy swell where a wave swamped the craft and washed Ryan and three horses into the sea. A preserver was thrown to Ryan by Allen but Ryan disappeared beneath the water and was not seen again. Two of the three horses also drowned. A suqsequent search for Ryan failed to locate his body but did find the preserver and some driftwood from the lighter.

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National Police Memorial Australia

  • The National Police Memorial is located in Kings Park on the northern shore of Lake Burley Griffin adjacent to Queen Elizabeth II Island and the National Carrillion. View in Google maps