• John Simpson

Army / Flying Corps
  • Australian Army Medical Corps
  • Private

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  • 1914–1915 Star
  • British War Medal
  • Mentioned in Despatches (MID)
  • Victory Medal
  • Victory Medal
  • British War Medal
  • Burial

    Hillside Cemetery Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, Turkey

  • Birth

    South Shields, Tyne and Wear, UK
    Wednesday, 6 July 1892

  • Enlistment - WW1

    Perth WA, Australia
    Sunday, 23 August 1914

  • Death

    17500, Turkey
    Wednesday, 19 May 1915

Stories and comments
    • John Simpson
    • Posted by Mapping our Anzacs story, Monday, 4 November 2013

    John Simpson Kirkpatrick was born in Britain but later moved to Australia. In August 1914 he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, serving at Gallipoli the following year as Private John Simpson in the 3rd Field Ambulance, Australian Army Medical Corps. He served from the time of the landing at Gallipoli on 25 April until he was killed in action on 19 May. Simpson became famous for his work as a stretcher-bearer. Using one of the donkeys brought in for carrying water, he transported wounded men day and night from the fighting in Monash Valley to the beach on ANZAC Cove. He did so, according to Charles Bean, through "deadly sniping down the valley and the most furious shrapnel fire". He was killed by machine-gun fire while carrying two wounded men and was buried on the beach at Hell Spit. The war diary of the 3rd Field Ambulance commended "the excellence of the work performed by Pte Simpson continuously since landing". Simpson was posthumously Mentioned in Despatches. His first donkey was known as Abdul, Murphy, or Duffy. From the Australian War Museum: http://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/simpson.asp

    • description of photo in Australian War Memorial.
    • Posted by helenpre, Saturday, 19 September 2015

    Informal group portrait of men of the 3rd Field Ambulance before embarkation. Left to right back row: Driver (Dvr) L A Denbigh, 201 Private (Pte) Donald Neville Cadoux, killed in action on 3 May 1915; 202 Pte John Simpson Kirkpatrick, enlisted as John Simpson (who became known on Gallipoli as 'The Man with the Donkey'), killed in action on 19 May 1915; 179 Pte Frederick Charles Spurgeon, killed at landing on 1 June 1915; 188 Pte Frank Morley Gill, killed at Anzac on 22 August 1915; Dvr W H Griffiths. Middle row: Sergeant Major McBride; Pte Robert J Hastings; Pte J W Gillies; Pte W H Baker. Front row kneeling: Pte J Pratley; Lance Corporal A R Davidson; Pte L Darcy.

    Australian War Memorial
    • description of photo in Australian War Memorial.
    • Posted by helenpre, Friday, 16 October 2015

    nformal portrait of some of the original members of the 3rd Australian Field Ambulance at mess outside their tents at Blackboy Hill Camp in Western Australia. From left to right: 204 Private (Pte) Albert John Currie; 169A Lance Corporal (L Cpl) Andrew Rhind Davidson; 174A Pte William Lindsay; 202 Pte John Simpson Kirkpatrick also known as John Simpson, 'the man with the donkey' (killed in action 19th May 1915); 206 Pte Frank James Kennedy; 209 Driver (Dvr) Charles Mansfield; 203 Pte Edward Laural Langoulant; 173 Pte Frank Ernest Meachem; 183 Pte John Charles Dinsdale (died of disease 18th February 1915); unidentified.

    Australian War Memorial
    • The animals of World War One: Donkeys
    • Posted by GregoryCope40, Thursday, 21 July 2016

    Auxiliary veterinary nurse LAURA BROWN tells the story of an Australian stretcher bearer who used a donkey to rescue wounded soldiers. NOBODY is sure about the name of the donkey who became famous at Gallipoli in the spring of 1915. Some sources give it as Murphy, some as Abdul and some as Duffy. Not a great deal is known about Private John Simpson either, except that he had come to Australia from England and changed his name from John Simpson Kirkpatrick. But the work these two performed has become one of the great legends of Australian history. Simpson was working as a stretcher-bearer for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) when, the story goes, he found an abandoned donkey on the beach. He realised that he could transport wounded soldiers faster on a donkey’s back than on a shoulder-borne stretcher, and he pressed the animal into service. Simpson already knew how to handle donkeys, having worked with them during childhood holidays. Over the next three weeks, according to legend, he and his companion saved the lives of over 300 soldiers. They often risked their lives by venturing into no man’s land. Neither Simpson nor the donkey panicked under fire, and Simpson was even said to have whistled and sung while doing his work. But on May 19, Simpson was killed by machine-gun fire. The fate of his donkey is not recorded. In Australia, Simpson’s tale became one of the best known stories of the war. The man and his donkey were celebrated in songs, paintings, films and sculptures. The pair have appeared on coins, banknotes and stamps. To this day, Australian schoolchildren learn about the heroic stretcher-bearer and the donkey that helped him rescue hundreds of men. But it has recently been revealed that much of what they learn is false. In 2012, in response to calls for Simpson to be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross, the Australian federal government set up an inquiry into his deeds. The inquiry found that most of Simpson’s legend had been concocted by journalists and politicians as wartime propaganda. Donkeys and mules were fairly widely used during the First World War. Here, an Australian soldier is pictured riding his donkey Simpson did indeed serve as a stretcher-bearer – along with hundreds of others at Gallipoli. He did indeed have a donkey – one of thousands of donkeys and mules who served in the war. And he did indeed help many wounded soldiers. But the truth of the legend ends there. As far as researchers could tell, Simpson had rescued only about 150 soldiers, not an incredible 300. He had never ventured into no man’s land (and was not required to). In common with other stretcher-bearers, he mainly picked up soldiers with relatively minor injuries whose lives were not in immediate danger. Simpson’s donkey was no more or less brave than his (or her) fellow donkeys, which, while not as widely used as horses during the war, did have some advantages over their larger cousins. They were hardier – according to one estimate, they got ill six times less often than horses did – and were less excitable under fire. They would also eat coarse plants and shrubs that horses could not stomach, making them useful in inhospitable terrain. Today, donkeys and mules are still used as beasts of burden in many parts of the world. Like Simpson’s donkey, they serve humans faithfully without their names ever being known.