About me
Archive
About me

Photo-a-day 278: John Simpson Kirkpatrick

close

Warning: This post was published more than 5 years ago.

I keep old posts on the site because sometimes it's interesting to read old content. Not everything that is old is bad. Also, I think people might be interested to track how my views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have mellowed and matured!

But given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views might have changed in the 5 years since I wrote this post.
  • This post might use language in ways which I would now consider inappropriate or offensive.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken; embedded material might not appear properly.

Many thanks for your understanding.

20121004-100140.jpg

John Simpson Kirkpatrick was a man from South Shields who deserted the merchant navy, and then enlisted with the Australian army at the outbreak of the First World War. He landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in April 1915, and found Duffy the donkey within hours of his arrival.

Over the following weeks, John and Duffy ferried wounded soldiers back from the front line and no man’s land while under Turkish fire. It’s said that he sang and whistled while rescuing his comrades, ignoring the rifle fire and flying shrapnel all around him.

Unfortunately, this was to prove his downfall, as he was killed by machine gun fire on his 24th day of ferrying the wounded, aged just 22. His actions saved the lives of over 300 soldiers, and he was recommended for the Victoria Cross, though this wasn’t awarded – a decision that remains contentious in Australia (and South Tyneside) to this day.

Duffy the donkey survived the attack, and continued to ferry wounded soldiers after Kirkpatrick’s death, under the guidance of Richard Henderson. As the soldiers couldn’t bear to leave him behind, Duffy was evacuated to Greece when the army retreated from Gallipoli. He then disappeared, much to the disappointment of the soldiers who wanted to parade him as a war hero in Australia. Reports differ as to whether the Greeks stole Duffy and sold him (donkeys were worth a lot of money), or whether he broke free and ran into the sunset to live out his days in the wild.

This statue of Kirkpatrick and Duffy by local miner-turned-artist Robert Olley stands on Ocean Road in South Shields town centre.

This 1,836th post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, .






More posts worth reading

What I’ve been reading this month (published 5th October 2017)

What I’ve been reading this month (published 3rd September 2017)

What I’ve been reading this month (published 5th August 2017)

Rocky Horror gets scary (published 7th January 2006)

Photo-a-day 79: Journal of Public Health (published 19th March 2012)

Vote Blair! (published 18th February 2005)

Photo-a-day 17: Ben’s Cookies (published 17th January 2012)


Comments and responses

No comments or responses to this article have been published yet.

Compose a new comment



Comment

You may use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> .

If you would like to display a profile picture beside your comment, sign up for Gravatar, and enter your email address above.

By submitting your comment, you confirm that it conforms to the site's comment policy. Comments are subject to both automatic and human moderation, and may take some time to appear.



The content of this site is copyright protected by a Creative Commons License, with some rights reserved. All trademarks, images and logos remain the property of their respective owners. The accuracy of information on this site is in no way guaranteed. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author. No responsibility can be accepted for any loss or damage caused by reliance on the information provided by this site. This site uses cookies - click here for more information.