Simpson and his Donkey

Trish Meyer

Denhams Beach, Australia

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Australiana Challenges … 2010

Photographed at The Australian War Memorial, Canberra, Australia.

John (Jack) Simpson Kirkpatrick (6 July 1892–19 May 1915 aged 23) was a stretcher bearer with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during the Gallipoli Campaign, in World War I. After landing at Anzac Cove on 25 April 1915, he obtained a donkey and began carrying wounded British Empire soldiers from the frontline to the beach, for evacuation. He continued this work for three and a half weeks, often under fire, until he was killed. Simpson and his Donkey are a key part of the “Anzac legend”. He joined the army so that he might be sent back to England to fight for his own country.

The “Simpson” legend grew largely from an account of his actions published in a 1916 book, Glorious Deeds of Australasians in the Great War. The few contemporary accounts of Simpson at Gallipoli, speak of his bravery and invaluable service in bringing wounded down from the heights above Anzac Cove through Shrapnel and Monash Gullies.

There have been several petitions over the decades to have Simpson awarded a Victoria Cross (VC) or an Australian Victoria Cross. However, there is no documentary evidence that such a recommendation was ever made. The case for Simpson being awarded a VC is based on diary entries by his Commanding Officer that express the hope he would receive either a Distinguished Conduct Medal or VC. However, the officer in question never made a formal recommendation for either of these medals.

Edited from Wikipedia.

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