Lieutenant Colonel Michael Richard Ryan entered the Army Medical Department in 1877. He served in the Afghan war (1878–79), and was at the capture of Ali Musjid (medal with clasp). He was in the Egyptian war of 1882 with the Indian Contingent and was present at the battle of Tel-el-Kebir (medal with clasp and Egyptian bronze star).
On 7 January 1884, he presented a paper to the Aldershot Military Medical Society entitled
The Prognostic value of temperature range in destructive lung disease. The paper was read on his behalf by Surgeon Henry James Michael as Ryan was unavoidably absent.
Lieutenant Colonel Michael R Ryan died on 23 August 1900, aged 48 years during the plague epidemic in Hong Kong.
Service Record — Michael Richard Ryan
14 Aug 1876 Successfully completed his examination held at the University of London for appointment in the Army Medical Department. Dr M R Ryan came second with a total of 2081 marks. First was Dr William Briggs Allin with 2220 marks. There were successful 33 candidates.
Feb 1877 Having passed through a course of instruction at the Army Medical School Netley, was successful at both the London and Netley examinations. Came second with an overall mark of 4896 out of 33 candidates. First was Dr William Briggs Allin with 5360 marks.
4 Feb 1877 Commissioned Surgeon.
Sept 1877 Posted to Bengal from Aldershot.
1878 – 1882 Served in Bengal.
Nov 1878 – May 1879 Served in the Second Afghan War. Was present at the attack and capture of Ali Musjid (medal with clasp).
1882 Served in Egypt with the Indian Contingent. Present at the Battle of Tel El Kebir (13 Sept 1882). Awarded medal with clasp and Khedive's Star.
Sept 1882 Returned to Aldershot. He was ordered home from Egypt instead of returning to India, having completed his tour of foreign service.
Aug 1885 In Egypt. Moved to Suakin.
1886 On duty at Chatham. Published a comment in the British Medical Journal on the first case of hepatic phlebotomy.
Sept 1887 Moved from Chatham to Netley.
July 1888 Surgeon M R Ryan moved from Home District to Woolwich.
4 Feb 1889 Promoted Surgeon-Major ranking as Major. Moved from Woolwich to Bengal.
4 Feb 1897 Promoted Surgeon-Lieutenant Colonel having completed 20 years' full-pay service.
Malta 1 Oct 1897 Arrived at Malta from Aldershot.
17 Oct 1898 Promoted Brigade-Surgeon-Lieutenant Colonel.
Malta Nov 1898 To Crete on duty.
Malta 1 Feb 1899 Left for Crete.
Mar 1899 Granted increased pay under Article 362 of the Royal Warrant.
The BMJ commented on the lack of honours conferred on the medical officers serving in Crete.
The fact that no honours have been given for the trying fighting at Candia on 5 and 6 September has attracted considerable attention. Especially do we miss recognition of the gallant and admirable services of certain officers and men of the Royal Army Medical Corps.
On 4 Sept, it was rumoured that an attack by moslems on British troops was likely. With rare prescience Lt Col Ryan RAMC, the senior medical officer, took steps to meet a surprise in a detached field hospital near the ramparts about three-quarters of a mile from the headquarters. Having obtained rifles and ammunition from the Highland Light Infantry, he armed the 42 patients in the hospital and the 10 non-commissioned officers and men of the RAMC, and directed Lieutenant Leonard Addams Williams RAMC, to make such dispositions as might prevent the hospital being rushed, he himself having to return to headquarters. Captain Drury RMLI in the journal of that corps of 7 December 1898, says:
Had not the Principal Medical Officer (Ryan) on the previous day caused arms and ammunition to be conveyed to the hospital, it is certain beyond peradventure that that institution, with its patients, its medical staff and its corporal's guard, would have been utterly wiped out.
It is only necessary to recall that Lieutenant AddamsWilliams and his men very gallantly defended the hospital under a galling fire from the ramparts and looped high houses overlooking it; how Lieutenant Clarke RAMC and eight volunteers sallied out and rescued Private McNeill HLI who was lying wounded on the ramparts, which cost the rescuers three killed and several wounded, including Clarke himself. It seems strange that such services should be unrecognised by honours, more especially since General Sir George White himself, at the St. Patrick's dinner in London, very highly eulogised Ryan's soldierly qualities in Crete.
Nov 1899 Moved to Gosport.
1900 PMO China.
Bubonic plague broke out in Hong Kong in April 1900. At the meeting of the Sanitary Board held on 26 April, Dr Clark, the medical officer of health, reported that there was no abatement in the spread of plague in the colony. When the subject of overcrowding was being discussed, the Sanitary Board found that it was powerless to prevent it. There seems an appalling want of municipal power in Hong Kong; every question has to give way to supposed military and executive considerations, and to such an extent, that Lieutenant-Colonel Ryan RAMC told the Sanitary Board that the colony
had, through neglect of sanitary matters, been the cause of a plague which at one time threatened the British Empire, and was a disgrace to British rule.
23 Aug 1900 Died at Hong Kong aged 48 years possibly of Bubonic plague.
At a meeting of the Sanitary Board held in Hong Kong on 30 August 1900, Dr J C Bell moved that the Board express its deep regret at the death of Colonel Ryan. He referred to the active part had taken in sanitary matters in the colony as a member of the Sanitary Board. Dr Hartigan in seconding the motion said that Colonel Ryan was a man of very distinguished service in the army and had shown great interest in everything connected with the improvement of the sanitary condition of the colony, specially in regard to battling with the plague.