3 Field Am­bu­lance Brigade, Aus­tralian Im­pe­rial Force

John Simp­son Kirk­patrick

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - THE BATTLE FOR GALLIPOLI -

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.

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