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The Remembered Podcast is an opportunity to explore the First World War, and its continuing impact today, in more depth.

Each week, we’ll be chatting to beneficiaries of the There But Not There project, as well as other people who are working to commemorate the war in different ways. The First World War was fought on many fronts and by many different races and we want to give a platform to those different voices, while raising awareness of the There But Not There project.

As always, you can support There But Not There by purchasing one of our Tommies.

Episode Five: James Ryan’s Discovered Tapes


In episode five, we speak to our colleague Tom Lacey who recently found out about his family’s extraordinary WWI history. We hear about his Great-Grandfather’s childhood and service and his life after the war.

We recorded this episode in our office, surrounded by some fantastic documents that Tom brought in, so apologies for any rustling!

Due to the technology available at the time, the recording of James and his speech therapist is a little more crackly than we would like, so we hope the transcription will allow you a clearer understanding of what’s been recorded. It seems James used regular conversations he would have on the phone at work to demonstrate what he was capable of saying after his speech therapist had taught him to talk again. If anyone is able to understand the sections we’ve been unable to clear up, we’d love to hear from you.

Speech Therapist

(…Unclear) A tracheotomy was performed. He was treated over a period of 2 or 3 years with Radium in an attempt to clear away fibrous tissue.

(…Unclear) tracheotomy (…Unclear) airway, but was able to talk until 1940 when he lost his voice and the airway became closed. It was found that carcinoma had developed in the larynx. 

In June 1940, a total laryngectomy was performed. Between 1940 and ’42 he had various operations to close (…Unclear)

He’s been taught to speak by drawing air into the oesophagus and producing sounds by compression of the upper sphincter of the oesophagus.

James Ryan:

Good morning

Good evening.

How are you today?

Very well thank you.


Is that the operator speaking? Please give me central 74, 74 extension 309 please.

 Hello, may I speak to Mr Jones? This is Ryan speaking. Every order for Peter’s office has gone through. Yes. Will you see to it as soon as possible?

I have just returned from my holiday and we had lovely weather and I feel much better for it. I spend my spare time gardening, and recently I have planted lettuce, tomatoes cabbages, cauliflowers and onions.. (Unclear)

I have found Three and Six [3 shillings and sixpence], Four pounds Twelve and Ten [4 pounds 12 shillings and 10 pence], Seven pounds Eighteen and Six [7 pounds 18 shillings and sixpence] 

Paddington 0719

Cunningham 5729

Langham 3628

7, 9, 21, 13, 76, 304

In my boyhood, I was often punished for bad behaviour.


You can also explore the documents that we were using in this episode here:

Petition for James Ryan to join the Duke of York’s Royal Military School

James Ryan Conduct Record

I Found My Voice by James Ryan

In Memory Of

We used the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to see if we can find any of James’s brothers, which is a great place to start when looking for your own relatives.

Don’t forget, if you have a story about a relative in the First World War that you would like to share with our listeners, please email us We’re looking for approximately 200-300 word stories or 2-3 minute recordings.

Next week, we’ll be speaking with Robin Clutterbuck from Away From the Western Front about the different theatres and global impact of the First World War.

You can follow the podcast on SoundCloud, Stitcher and iTunes. Please do subscribe and leave us a review!


Posted in: The Remembered Podcast
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