3 Field Ambulance Brigade, Australian Imperial Force
John Simpson Kirkpatrick
John Simpson Kirkpatrick is one of the most famous soldiers associated with the Gallipoli campaign. He achieved immortality through carrying wounded Anzacs on a donkey in the early days of the landing,
He was born in July 1892 in South Shields, Tyneside, and joined the merchant navy at the age of 17 before ddesertingti ffrom a BBritishitih ship and travelling around Austra alia looking for work.
He enlisted within days of the outbreak of war on 23 August 1914. Like many British born volunteers he mayay have joined up so that he could get a free passage to Britain in order to see his family.
John was posted to 3 Field Ambulance, AIF, as a stretcher-bearer and landed in Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. He had considerable experience of working with animals, and soon began to use donkeys to transport the wounded to the field hospital. He used a number of different donkeys for this difficult and dangerous work and gave them all names. One of the donkeys was with Simpson when he was killed by a shell on 19 May 1915. The donkey, believed to be called Murphy or Duffy, continued to the dressing station and led a rescue party back to Simpson’s body.
The great Australian General John Monash later 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.”
John was buried in Beach Cemetery, in Anzac Cove in Gallipoli. There is a statue of John at the Australian War Memorial, which is dedicated to him as well as the donkeys who helped him.