TREASURED MEMORIES OF UNCLE’S SERVICE
SOUTH Perth RSL member Greg Negus treasures his Uncle Cedric Rosser’s World War I memorabilia with good reason – he was with John Simpson Kirkpatrick, or Simpson as we know him, on the day he was killed.
Mr Negus’ uncle was among the first Australian troops to land on the shores of Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, receiving a Distinguished Conduct Medal for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.
A private with 3rd Field Ambulance, Rosser served as a stretcher-bearer with Simpson and his donkey.
“Simpson was only with my uncle for the first few days after they landed at Gallipoli, but then Simpson went off and did his own thing after finding a donkey,” Mr Negus said.
“My uncle kept a diary and he was with Simpson the day he was killed.
“The diary is long gone now but I have managed to find a letter he wrote based on his diary entries to the now defunct newspaper the Western Mail in mid1929. He wanted to correct any wild stories about his mate’s death.”
The letter painted a harrowing picture of the events that day: “The Turks had made a very fierce attack that morning against our lines but were driven back with great loss. Simmo was bringing his man down as usual on the donkey while he walked alongside supporting his patient. He was shot in the back and dropped dead. The patient managed to keep his seat and the donkey continued his pace down to the beach and stopped as usual at the dressing station without his master; one of the gamest men who wore the Aussie tunic.
“(The donkey) was taken charge of by the 21st Mountain Battery of Sikhs... it was rumoured that one of their officers took him back to India.”
“My uncle died before I was born; after reading a supplement to London Gazette I wish I could have met him,” Mr Negus said.
Private Cedric Rosser, who was one of the first men to land at Gallipoli.
John Simpson Kirkpatrick and his donkey.