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Photo-a-day 278: John Simpson Kirkpatrick

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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 1,835th post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, .

Photo-a-day 275: Stoptober

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As a public health doctor, I was very pleased to see the Stoptober team out in force when I popped to the supermarket today. I wish anyone taking part every strength and every success!

If you smoke but haven’t yet signed up, there’s still time to get involved: sign up at the Stoptober website.

If you don’t smoke: good for you!

This 1,831st post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, , , .

Photo-a-day 222: Big industrial what-not

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I forgot to take a photo again yesterday, but will catch up with two today!

This first one shows a big industrial apparatus that I pass every day in South Shields. I mean the big thing right in the middle of the shot. This was about as close as I was able to stop to get a photo.

It looks quite fascinating, but I’ve not a clue what it’s for. If you’re cleverer than me and know what it does, please let me know in the comments!

This 1,759th post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, .

Photo-a-day 221: Wind turbine

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This wind turbine is close to my office: it’s a sad, solitary wind turbine. I don’t know if it actually powers my office, but I think it powers the Eco Centre next to it.

This 1,757th post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, .


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