John Simpson Kirkpatrick
Overview
 
John 'Jack' Simpson Kirkpatrick (6 July 1892 – 19 May 1915), who served under the name John Simpson, was a stretcher bearer
Combat medic
Combat medics are trained military personnel who are responsible for providing first aid and frontline trauma care on the battlefield. They are also responsible for providing continuing medical care in the absence of a readily available physician, including care for disease and battle injury...

 with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps
Australian and New Zealand Army Corps
The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps was a First World War army corps of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force that was formed in Egypt in 1915 and operated during the Battle of Gallipoli. General William Birdwood commanded the corps, which comprised troops from the First Australian Imperial...

 (ANZAC) during the Gallipoli Campaign in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. After landing at Anzac Cove
Landing at Anzac Cove
The landing at Anzac Cove was part of the amphibious invasion of the Gallipoli Peninsula by Australian and New Zealand forces on 25 April 1915. The landing, north of Gaba Tepe on the Aegean coast of the Peninsula, was made by soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps and was the first...

 on 25 April 1915, he obtained a donkey
Donkey
The donkey or ass, Equus africanus asinus, is a domesticated member of the Equidae or horse family. The wild ancestor of the donkey is the African Wild Ass, E...

 and began carrying wounded British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 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.
Encyclopedia
John 'Jack' Simpson Kirkpatrick (6 July 1892 – 19 May 1915), who served under the name John Simpson, was a stretcher bearer
Combat medic
Combat medics are trained military personnel who are responsible for providing first aid and frontline trauma care on the battlefield. They are also responsible for providing continuing medical care in the absence of a readily available physician, including care for disease and battle injury...

 with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps
Australian and New Zealand Army Corps
The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps was a First World War army corps of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force that was formed in Egypt in 1915 and operated during the Battle of Gallipoli. General William Birdwood commanded the corps, which comprised troops from the First Australian Imperial...

 (ANZAC) during the Gallipoli Campaign in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. After landing at Anzac Cove
Landing at Anzac Cove
The landing at Anzac Cove was part of the amphibious invasion of the Gallipoli Peninsula by Australian and New Zealand forces on 25 April 1915. The landing, north of Gaba Tepe on the Aegean coast of the Peninsula, was made by soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps and was the first...

 on 25 April 1915, he obtained a donkey
Donkey
The donkey or ass, Equus africanus asinus, is a domesticated member of the Equidae or horse family. The wild ancestor of the donkey is the African Wild Ass, E...

 and began carrying wounded British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 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
ANZAC spirit
The Anzac spirit or Anzac legend is a concept which suggests that Australian and New Zealand soldiers possess shared characteristics, specifically the qualities those soldiers are believed to have shown on the battlefield in World War I. These qualities cluster around several ideas, including...

.'

Early life

Simpson was born on 6 July 1892 in South Shields
South Shields
South Shields is a coastal town in Tyne and Wear, England, located at the mouth of the River Tyne to Tyne Dock, and about downstream from Newcastle upon Tyne...

, United Kingdom, the son of Robert Kirkpatrick and Sarah Simpson Kirkpatrick. He was one of eight children, and worked with donkeys during summer holidays as a youth.

Military service

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
Perth, Western Australia
Perth is the capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia and the fourth most populous city in Australia. The Perth metropolitan area has an estimated population of almost 1,700,000....

. 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
John Monash
General Sir John Monash GCMG, KCB, VD was a civil engineer who became the Australian military commander in the First World War. He commanded the 13th Infantry Brigade before the War and then became commander of the 4th Brigade in Egypt shortly after the outbreak of the War with whom he took part...

 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.

Legacy

The "Simpson" legend grew largely from an account of his actions published in a 1916 book, Glorious Deeds of Australasians in the Great War. This was a wartime propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

 effort, and many of its stories of Simpson, supposedly rescuing 300 men and making dashes into no man's land
No man's land
No man's land is a term for land that is unoccupied or is under dispute between parties that leave it unoccupied due to fear or uncertainty. The term was originally used to define a contested territory or a dumping ground for refuse between fiefdoms...

 to carry wounded out on his back, are demonstrably untrue. In fact, transporting that many men down to the beach in the three weeks that he was at Gallipoli would have been a physical impossibility, given the time the journey took. However, the stories presented in the book were widely and uncritically accepted by many people, including the authors of some subsequent books on Simpson.

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. However, his donkey service spared him the even more dangerous and arduous work of hauling seriously wounded men back from the front lines on a stretcher.

There have been several petitions over the decades to have Simpson awarded a Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

 (VC) or an Australian Victoria Cross. There is a persistent myth that he was recommended for a VC, but that this was either refused or mishandled by the military bureaucracy. 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
Distinguished Conduct Medal
The Distinguished Conduct Medal was an extremely high level award for bravery. It was a second level military decoration awarded to other ranks of the British Army and formerly also to non-commissioned personnel of other Commonwealth countries.The medal was instituted in 1854, during the Crimean...

 or VC. However, the officer in question never made a formal recommendation for either of these medals. Simpson's Mention in Despatches was consistent with the recognition given to other men who performed the same role at Gallipoli.

In April 2011 the Australian Government announced that Simpson would be one of a number of servicemen examined in an inquiry into "Unresolved Recognition for Past Acts of Naval and Military Gallantry and Valour." The tribunal for this inquiry is directed to make recommendations on the awarding of decorations, including the Victoria Cross.

See also

  • Ambulance
    Ambulance
    An ambulance is a vehicle for transportation of sick or injured people to, from or between places of treatment for an illness or injury, and in some instances will also provide out of hospital medical care to the patient...

  • Battlefield medicine
    Battlefield medicine
    Battlefield medicine, also called field surgery and later combat casualty care, is the treatment of wounded soldiers in or near an area of combat. Civilian medicine has been greatly advanced by procedures that were first developed to treat the wounds inflicted during combat...

  • Billy Sing
    Billy Sing
    William Edward 'Billy' Sing, DCM was a Chinese Australian soldier who served in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during World War I, best known as a sniper during the Gallipoli Campaign. He took at least 150 confirmed kills during that campaign, and may have had over 200 kills in total...

  • Combat medic
    Combat medic
    Combat medics are trained military personnel who are responsible for providing first aid and frontline trauma care on the battlefield. They are also responsible for providing continuing medical care in the absence of a readily available physician, including care for disease and battle injury...

  • Military medicine
    Military medicine
    The term military medicine has a number of potential connotations. It may mean:*A medical specialty, specifically a branch of occupational medicine attending to the medical risks and needs of soldiers, sailors and other service members...


External links

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