Thursday, 6 October 2011

William Henry Cobeldick RYAN

William Henry Cobeldick RYAN was born in Devon in 1880.  At the age of 20 he journeyed to the capital and joined the London & India Dock Police.  In 1902 he was recruited by the Hong Kong Police and arrived in the Colony on 19 November.

During the next couple of years he was reported as making excellent progress and his future looked bright but then tragedy struck.  Early one morning whilst walking along Wyndham Street he suddenly found that he was being attacked.  The China Mail later reported that:

An Indian rushed out at him and almost before he was aware of his presence made a slash at him with a sword.  The blow was aimed at the Constable’s head but fortunately did not strike him fairly but instead caught the base of his helmet from the back.  This broke the force of the blow and undoubtedly saved the Constable’s life for even after striking the helmet and knocking it off there was still sufficient force left in the blow to send the blade of the sword into the flesh at the back of the Constable’s neck and fell him to the ground.

He quickly got on his feet again and commenced to blow his whistle which attracted the attention of an Indian Sergeant who was in the vicinity.  The would be assassin had made off along  Lower Albert Road but the Sergeant gave chase and succeeded in capturing him.

Constable Ryan was by this time almost covered in blood which flowed freely from the wound in the back of his neck but he accompanied the Sergeant and his prisoner to Central Police Station.  He was then sent to Government Civil Hospital to have the wound attended to.

Ryan spent months in hospital and then sadly had to be invalided from the service.

He returned to England for a short time but in March 1905 set off on his travels again and emigrated to New Zealand.   A few years later he crossed over to Australia and travelled to the interior prospecting for gold.  It was at the Cotter River, some 200 miles from Sydney, that tragedy struck for a second time.  A friend got into difficulties and Ryan jumped into the river to rescue him.  He succeeded in getting the drowning man out of the river but died himself as he reached the bank.

One of his friends had the sad job of writing to Ryan’s brother in Plymouth:

Both my mate and I are grief stricken with sorrow at his loss and cannot express our admiration of him.  A better mate or a more noble hearted man it would be impossible to imagine, a man who sacrificed his life for his mate.

Who knows what Ryan might have gone on to achieve if that tragic blow had not been struck in Wyndham Street  back in 1904.

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