Categories: This Day In History April 25 | This Day In History May 19 | ANZAC | Gallipoli 1915 | 3rd Field Ambulance, Army Medical Corps 1915 | Australian Notables | Nominated Profiles | Roll of Honor Military Showcase Profile Nominee | Anzacs, World War One | Killed in Action, Australia, World War I.
Australia's most famous soldier is neither a general, nor received the Victoria Cross, but a stretcher bearer who served briefly at Gallipoli. Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick was a stretcher bearer, with the 3rd Field Ambulance, Australian Army Medical Corps. An ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps), he served under the name John "Jack" Simpson. After landing at Anzac Cove, on 25 April 1915, he found a donkey and started carrying wounded soldiers from the front line to the beach for evacuation. He did this for three and a half weeks, often under fire. Jack Simpson was killed at Anzac Cove, May 19, 1915. Simpson and his Donkey Duffy are part of the Anzac legend.
On the 6 July 1892, John Kirkpatrick was born in South Shields, United Kingdom . His parents were Robert Kirkpatrick and Sarah Kirkpatrick (nee Simpson). When he was a child he used to work as a donkey lad. John Simpson was only 16 years old, when he volunteered to train as a gunner in the Territorial Force. He then joined the British merchant navy in early 1909.
John Kirkpatrick deserted from the British merchant navy in 1910 at Newcastle, New South Wales Australia. He tried cane cutting and station work in Queensland. He also became a coalminer at Coledale, Corrimal and Mount Kembla in the Illawarra district. He went to the Yilgarn goldfield in Western Australia. In 1911, John worked as a steward, fireman and greaser on ships. He did this type of work for the next three years. He wrote regularly his mother and sister, and always sent a portion of his wages to his mother.
Before WWI, Jack Simpson enlisted thinking that he would be going home to England. He, like many at that time, thought that the war would be over by the end of the year. He sent 4/- a day from his 6/- (60 cents) a day army pay to his mother who was still in England,telling her to take half towards household expenses and bank the other half for him to collect after he, had a good holiday in the Army
One account states that he dropped Kirkpatrick from his name and enlisted as John Simpson to avoid being identified as a deserter On 23 August 1914 he was accepted into the army as a field ambulance stretcher bearer, and on 25 August 1914 he joined the Australian Imperial Force at Blackboy Hill Campon in Perth John Simpson , Perth, Allotted to the 3rd Field Ambulance, Australian Army Medical Corps. He left for Egypt on 2 November 1914.
Private Jack Simpson landed on Gallipoli at dawn on 25 April 1915. The Anzacs, as they would be known, had been landed at the wrong beach. Two thousand of the Men who landed on the25th April, were wounded that day. Due to the Field Ambulance Brigades all the wounded were safely on the hospital ships by the next day. On the 26th April Jack Simpson befriended a donkey, he called Duffy. Jack used Duffy to carry wounded to the dressing station, among shrapnel and rifle fire. After four days of not returning to his unit, he was classed as a deserter. Jack and Duffy camped at the Indian mule camp. He was known to his fellow diggers as Murphy, Scotty, Simmie, or simply the bloke with the donk. The Indian troops called him Bahadur, bravest of the brave, Colonel and later General. Simpson used a number of different donkeys to carry the wounded, Duffy is the most well known.
Australian 4th Battalion troops landing in Anzac Cove, 25 April 1915
The Anzac Legend was born
John Monash wrote "Private Simpson and his little beast earned the admiration of everyone at the upper end of the valley. They worked all day and night, throughout the whole period since the landing, and the help rendered to the wounded was invaluable. Simpson knew no fear and moved unconcernedly amid shrapnel and rifle fire, steadily carrying out his self imposed task day by day, and he frequently earned the applause of the personnel for his many fearless rescues of wounded men from areas subject to rifle and shrapnel fire"
Jack Simpson went many times to bring back wounded soldiers. The Indians made him a saddle and bridle, and Simpson worked 20 hours a day making the 1½ mile trip from the beach to the trenches, between twelve and fifteen times a day.
From Wikipedia One of the paintings by Horace Moore thought to be a portrait of Simpson and his donkey , now known to be Dick Henderson, who was a stretcher bearer in the New Zealand Medical Corps at Gallipoli.
Jack Simpson was at Gallopil for 24 days, when he was killed on the 19 May he was hit in the back by a Turkish machine gun. Duffy led the other stretcher bearers back to Jack's body.They placed Simpson's body behind a sandbag barricade, leaving it there until 7pm that night. He was buried at Hell Spit which later would be called the Hillside Cemetery.
Anzac Cove, Hell Spit
They marked his grave with a simple wooden cross bearing just two words
The next day Colonel John Monash recommended Private John Simpson for the award of a Victoria Cross. He was also recommended by his unit on the 3rd June 1915. Lieutenant Colonel Sutton had also recommended that Jack Simpson receive a Distinguished Conduct Medal. Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick has never been recognized for his bravery at Gallipoli, except for when he was Mentioned in Despatches.Simpson's mother and sister Annie heard about his death, when a letter to Jack Simpson from his sister was returned unopened, with the word "Killed" written on the front of the envelope.
Colonel Howse VC Australia's first ever Victoria Cross winner, wrote that the Victoria Cross should not go to a stretcher bearer for simply doing his job,although the first Victoria Cross awarded on Gallipoli, had been awarded to a British Stretcher Bearer L/Cpl W R Parker who had helped rescue some wounded men from a trench after being wounded himself.
Lieutenant Colonel A. C. Fergusson DSO, Commander of the 21st Kohat Indian Mountain Artillery Battery and his men took care of Simpson's donkey Duffy. They were going to present it to Australia but the donkey was stolen from their camp.
Captain Fry wrote to Simpson sister Annie on the 2 September 1915 telling her of
Jack's bravery and the admiration of him that was felt by his comrades, he explained that during the time that Jack was carrying out his rescue missions through Schrapnell Valley the area was almost constantly exposed to snipers and was continuously shelled he told her of Jacks disregard for the dangers and his refusal at times of great danger to obey orders and remain under cover, and how he was always cheery, singing and whistling as he carried out his self imposed task.
Over the years there have been a number petitions, for Jack Simpson to be awarded a Victoria Cross (VC). In July 1967 Australian leaders sent a petition to the British War Office, signed by Prime Minister Harold Holt, the Governor General, the Chief of the General Staff, and other leaders on behalf of the Australian people, requesting that a posthumous Victoria Cross be awarded to Private John Simpson Kirkpartrick. The request was denied, on the grounds that it would be setting a dangerous precedent. A second application for a VC in 1967, was also denied by the British Government, although in 1907 two British officers, Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill were posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for their actions in South Africa, twenty-eight years previously.
Your petitioners request that the House of Representatives do everything in their power to honour the integrity and wishes of these fine Australians and overturn the original decision not to award the VC to Simpson. Simpson is symbol of the self-sacrifice, mateship and all those values that Anzacs now stand for and Australians treasure. By honouring him, we honour them all.
The Australian Government announced that Simpson would be one of thirteen servicemen examined in an inquiry into Unresolved Recognition for Past Acts of Naval and Military Gallantry and Valour in April 2011, in February 2013 the tribunal recommended that no further award be made to Simpson, since his initiative and bravery were representative of all other stretcher-bearers of 3rd Field Ambulance, and that bravery was appropriately recognised as such by the award of an Mentioned in dispatches
Anzac Medallion - John Simpson and Duffy and John Simpsons Kirkpatrick headstone Gallipoli, Turkey
John Simpson Kirkpatrick Served as
202 Private J Simpson,
Australian Army Medical Corps,
19th May 1915 - Age 22
He Gave His Life
That others may live.
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On 15 Nov 2018 at 10:02 GMT Eric Daly wrote:
On 14 Nov 2018 at 10:38 GMT Melanie Paul wrote:
I was taught in school (1960's) that his name was John Simpson Kirkpatrick, known as John Simpson, or "Simpson and his donkey".
On 14 Nov 2018 at 06:54 GMT Eric Daly wrote:
On 13 Nov 2018 at 14:10 GMT Melanie Paul wrote:
I grew up with his story being taught in school. By the time my kids were in primary, they no longer taught it (at least, not at their school), so I made sure they knew, even dragging somewhat unwilling children to Brisbane's ANZAC Square. (My younger brother has stood guard at (on?) the Undying Flame there.)
On 5 Jan 2015 at 12:36 GMT Paula J wrote: