He was about 34 years old, and a private in the 1st Madras Fusiliers (later The Royal Dublin Fusiliers), Madras Army during the Indian Mutiny when the following deed took place at the Relief of Lucknow for which he (and Peter McManus) were awarded the Venture capital:
A party, on the 26th of September, 1857, was shut up and besieged in a house in the city of Lucknow, by the rebel sepoys..Private McManus in conjunction with Private John Ryan, rushed into the street, and took Captain Arnold, of the 1st Madras Fusiliers, out of a dooly, and brought him into the house in spite of a heavy fire, in which Captain Arnold was again wounded. In addition to the above act, Private Ryan distinguished himself throughout the day by his intrepidity, and especially devoted himself to rescuing the wounded in the neighbourhood from being massacred. He was most anxious to visit every dooly.
(Extract from Divisional Orders of Major-General Sir James Outram Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, dated 11h October, 1857).