Off-white card invitation to the Citizens' Farewell for Sergeant Thomas Ryan, at 8pm on 29 August 1918, at the Public Hall, Essendon. Invitation bears Australian and British flags on front.

The Argus recorded the event the next day: 'Sergent Thomas Ryan, M.L.A., was last evening entertained by the citizens of Essendon, and presented with an illuminated address and wristlet [sic] watch. The hall was crowded, and the proceedings throughout were marked by great cordiality. The mayor of Essendon (Councillor A. Fenton) presided.

'Reference to the sterling qualities of the guest was made by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), who said that Sergeant Ryan had made several attempts to join the A.I.F. as a combatant, but without success. It should not be imagined, however, that in joining the Railway Unit he had secured a "safe" job. Some of whose who had left Australian with the original railway units had been awarded decorations for bravery.'…

'Sergeant Ryan, in returning thanks, said that he had three reasons for going, namely, his wife and two children. He had made 21 unsuccessful applications for permission to enlist, and was proud to know that at last he was to be afforded the opportunity of doing something practical in defence of the country which had sheltered him.'

Two days later, Sergeant Ryan embarked from Melbourne on the HMAT Barambah, bound for England.

Physical Description

Off-white card folded at 1/3 its length, with folded portion bearing red, white, blue image, outlined in gold, of Australian and British flags crossed, and inscription. Olive or similar branches twine through flags. Inside is an inscription printed in gold, with hand-written personal name.


This card documents some of the ways in which armed forces recruits were feted during World War I, and the continuing level of support for the war effort in the final year of the war. In this case, a high-profile MLA enlisted, and the Mayor of Essendon and Federal Minister for Defence both spoke at a crowded event in at the Public Hall, Essendon. The interesting sub-text for this story, however, is the pressure to enlist, which saw repeated defensive comments at this event about Sergeant Ryan's earlier failure to enlist. Although he appears to have had a legitimate medical reason that prevented him from successfully enlisting previously, he finds it necessary to quantify his attempts to enlist, and even the Minister for Defence joins the chorus. Ryan's reference to serving the country 'which had sheltered him' seems to refer back to the fact that he came to Australia as an immigrant from Ireland.

More Information

  • Collecting Areas

    Public Life & Institutions

  • Acquisition Information

    Donation (Possible) from Unknown

  • Place & Date Inscribed

    Essendon, Greater Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 29 Aug 1918

  • Inscriptions

    INSCRIPTIONS: Front: 'Above all issues / Empire First / 29th August, 1918'. Inside: 'W.R. Heywood Esq & Lady. / The Honor of your presence is requested / at the / Citizens Farewell / to / Serg. Thomas Ryan, M.L.A. / On the eve of his departure from Australia, on Active Service, with / the Australian Imperial Expeditionary Force (Railway Unit) / In the / Public Hall, Essendon, / on Thursday, 29th August, 1918, at 8 p.m. / R. Manderson, Hon.Sec., / Washington Street, / Essendon / R.S.V.P.'

  • Classification

    Military history, Service, Commemorative

  • Category

    History & Technology

  • Discipline


  • Type of item


  • 2D format - closed

    185 mm (Width), 136 mm (Height)

  • 2D format - open

    271 mm (Width), 135 mm (Height)

  • References

    'Au Revior to Sergeant Ryan, M.L.A.', Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), Friday 30 August 1918, p.4; National Archives of Australia series B2455/1, RYAN THOMAS, Barcode 8072899

  • Keywords

    Conscription, Immigration, Politics, Wars & Conflicts, World War I, 1914-1918