The reason why The Kirkpatrick pub bears that name. This statue commemorates John Simpson Kirkpatrick, a South Shields lad who ran away and became an Australian war hero saving many lives with his donkey.
There is a campaign underway in Australia to award him a posthuomous Victoria Cross. He was born in the same area of South Shields as I was.
After deserting from the merchant navy and travelling around Australia, prior to the war, Simpson apparently enlisted as a means to return to England. One account alleges that he dropped "Kirkpatrick" from his name and enlisted as "John Simpson" to avoid being identified as a deserter. He was accepted into the army as a field ambulance stretcher bearer on 23 August 1914 in Perth. This role was only given to physically strong men.
Simpson landed on the shores of the Gallipoli Peninsula on 25 April 1915 as part of the ANZAC forces. In the early hours of the following day, as he was bearing a wounded comrade on his shoulders, he spotted a donkey and quickly began making use of it to bear his fellow soldiers. He would sing and whistle, seeming to ignore the deadly bullets flying through the air, while he tended to his comrades. The donkey came to be named Duffy.
Colonel (later General) 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."
On 19 May 1915, Simpson was struck by machine gun fire and died. At the time of his death, Simpson's father was already dead, but his mother was still living in South Shields, England
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Read my views in Curly's Corner Shop, to find out a little more about my home town South Shields.
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