Anzac -The Man and his donkey

1 John Simpson KirkpatrickThe Man and his donkey

John Simpson Kirkpatrick, affectionately known as “The Man and his donkey”, was born on the 6th of July 1892 in South Shields, England.

Anzac-CoveHe landed at Anzac Cove at 5 a.m. on the 25th of April 1915 and was mortally wounded in Shrapnel Gully, near the mouth of Monash Valley, on the 19th of May 1915 at the age of 22. During the 24 days he spent at Anzac he operated as a sole unit with his beloved donkeys and is credited with saving the lives of probably hundreds of men.

By mid-morning on April 26th stretchers had become a scarce and precious commodity at Anzac. Used to carry the wounded and taken out with them to the ships they mostly weren’t being returned, forcing the bearers to improvise.

2woundedThe wounded were being carried over men’s shoulders. For those seriously wounded in the chest or abdomen etc this of course wasn’t possible. Then groundsheets had to be used.

During the morning hours of April 26th Jack did what many of his mates were doing – carried casualties back to the beach over his shoulder – until he was stopped dead in his tracks by something he saw; something he’d been passing for hours, but in common with the rest of his mates had paid little attention to.

A number of donkeys had been landed, along with their Greek drivers, to carry kerosene tins of water for the troops. Some of these donkeys had been abandoned by their drivers and now sought shelter and what little grazing there was in amongst the wild overgrown gullies. Jack was responding to a call of – “Stretcher-Bearer!” – when he saw, grazing unconcernedly near the wounded man, a donkey.

As he approached closer no doubt there suddenly appeared in Jack’s mind another picture – one all too familiar, and from his not-too-distant past. Sitting on the back of that funny little long-eared creature he would have seen – a child, laughing and care-free as he was being led along the sands, with Jack walking along next to the donkey, looking back at him over his shoulder every now and again. But if a child Jack must have thought – then why not a man! Of course! It was the perfect answer.

Jack had none of the essential equipment he needed – but he did have a pocketful of field dressings. They’d have to do for the time being. He knew that once he got his hands on the necessary materials he’d be able to fashion something much more substantial and appropriate.

A portion of one bandage served as a primitive “head-stall”. Then a first field dressing provided him with a “lead rope”. There was no way in the world his passenger was going to be able to stay on the donkey’s back by his own efforts – with no saddle, stirrups, reins or anything else to hang on to. He’d just have to hang on to Jack, as this donkey-man carefully guided his little beast of burden along. Jack lifted his passenger aboard, then, sufficiently equipped for the moment, set off for the beach, on his first donkey-ride, and on his new career.

During these first days Jack had to rescue his casualties off the battle-field, sometimes in clear sight of the enemy. In 1915 E.C. Buley collected a number of eye-witness accounts from wounded Anzacs in hospital, of Jack at work. In Buley’s words:

When the enfilading fire down the valley was at its worst and orders were posted that the ambulancemen must not go out, the Man and the donkey continued on placidly at their work. At times they held trenches of hundreds of men spellbound, just to see them at their work. Their quarry lay motionless in an open patch, in easy reach of a dozen Turkish rifles.
Patiently the little donkey waited under cover, while the man crawled through the thick scrub until he got within striking distance. Then a lightning dash, and he had the wounded man on his back and was making for cover again. In those fierce seconds he always seemed to bear a charmed life. Once under cover he tended his charge with quick, skilful movements.

Jack and his mates carried their casualties down the “Long Valley”, of Monash Valley and Shrapnel Gully (as it was known then) to the clearing hospital on the beach. The distance was about twelve hundred metres. Using his donkey and working all day and halfway into the night Jack could make between twelve and fifteen trips a day. The two-way trips took about an hour, and this still left Jack time for a mug of tea and a chat with his mates at the cove after dropping off his casualty at the clearing station.

The Advanced Dressing Station of the 4th Field Ambulance at the head of Monash Valley, below Pope’s Hill . It was from here Jack collected most of his casualties after the first week.

The other two-man stretcher teams were hard pressed to make six trips a day down the valley. Cpl. E.H. Kitson, a stretcher-bearer with the 4th Field Ambulance, made the same trip as Jack daily, and he has left a detailed description:

Jack used a number of donkeys, which he called by a variety of names: Murphy, Abdul – even Queen Elizabeth. But his favourite name was Duffy. Andy described how Jack’s career had begun on that second day: “The original order was amended to two men [to a stretcher] as the bearer numbers were badly depleted. The hard fighting throughout the day caused heavy casualties, until the bearers had inadequate means to do their work.

The shortage of stretchers was relieved in a measure by improvised equipment sent ashore by the warships. But the need was still so great that it inspired [Simpson] to commandeer a stray donkey, which he named Duffy.”

Capt. Victor Conrick added: “At the landing, April 25th 1915, he went ashore with his bearer squad of four; his three mates were either killed or wounded and Simpson was left alone.”

John Simpson 9Jack only carried men wounded in the leg (and some head wounds); that is, men who could sit astride a donkey with assistance. He left the serious chest and abdomen wounds, those who had to be stretchered down to the beach, to the scant resources of the two-man bearer squads available. Colonel Monash fully recognised the value of Jack’s self-imposed role, stating that “Simpson was worth a hundred men to me.”

From April 26th Jack “ran his own casualty carrying service” (in the words of Andy Davidson), refusing to go back to his own unit at the end of each day’s work along with his mates. He knew what he had to do, and nobody was going to stop him. Jack knew that he could rescue many more casualties using a donkey, than as part of a stretcher team. He had a natural way with animals, especially donkeys.

To enjoy the full uplifting Story Click Link


About Freedomborn

My name is Anne although some call me Grannie Annie especially Children whom I share with in my Funday School . I live in Queensland Australia. I’m very much a People person believing we are all People of worth and unique, so I have much Joy in sharing with people personally and over the Internet. My main focus in life is my wonderful Friendship with Jesus Christ, without Him everything else would be meaningless, I have deep heartfelt thanks and appreciation that I'm a Spiritual Child of The King of Kings and I seek to share with others how truly wonderful that is with the hope they too will realize the same and be set free now.
This entry was posted in In Memory, Interesting and Unusual, Messages From The Heart, Special Days and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Anzac -The Man and his donkey

  1. keijo leppioja says:

    The Lord used the donkey to ride into Jerusalem and be his help in needs with blessing and that be give us one who help us as a donkey bearing our life with love and in praying and take care and to me I hav one steadfast person who is doing that and he is Jesus with the right side of the throne of God,right now,thanks and bless and pray,keijo sweden


  2. gpcox says:

    Thank you, Annie – you were right! This story is comparable to William Ash and I’m honored you mentioned it to me.


    • I’m very pleased you enjoyed this telling of Jack’s contribution gpcox it’s one of Ron’s favorites, perhaps we can’t all be great heroes as far as the world thinks but we can still make a difference as you are doing.

      Blessings – Annie


      • gpcox says:

        Thank you once again!


        • Your more than welcome gpcox, Ron was very impressed with your Blog, I hope you received his comments OK, I post them for him as he does not have much free time but I’m always interested to read his responses and to seek to relate to what he enjoys, although I was not very surprised in his responses to your messages.

          For me it’s your great life stories Hmmmm I’m not so interested in Airplanes, I find having my feet on the ground much better but Ron’s Dad was in the Air-force and so Ron has always been very interested in them, but then he is not so interested in my creative cards craft work, seems strange don’t you think Lol

          Blessings – Anne


          • gpcox says:

            Yes, Ron’s replies arrive safe and sound, but I also enjoy hearing from you. Even if people are not interested in the military, there should be some patriotism, don’t you think? I hope I reach some of the younger generation also.


            • Yes I agree with you gpcox, patriotism is important and yes young people need to show appreciation even in remembrance to those who have made it possible for them to live without oppression and dictatorship in their Country, which I can see is your heart desire with all those you reach out to.

              Ron said thank you for your responses to his comments and we both thank you for the respect you show to all those who comment. Ron is researching for you about the Aboriginal Soldiers but said there is not a lot of records in comparison to other War Heroes but hopes to be able to Post some information for you and I was wondering would you mind if I pingback to your Blog.

              I have a few Stories gpcox that I have Posted which you may enjoy, I will leave a link for you, maybe you have read them before as I received then by e-mail a few years ago but you may still enjoy them, thank for your kindness in visiting us.

              War –

              Christian Love from both of us – Anne


  3. Really appreciated this post! I was unfamiliar with any of it, and it’s really wonderful.
    Love and blessings,


    • Thanks for visiting Tricia, it’s always good to see you, yes it is a wonderful Story but not unknown to Ron, he knows all the war ones but also about a many other things too, he has a lot of life wisdom and has had many ups and downs in his life and in his Christian walk. I wish he would Post again but he is very busy, we are planning though to have a Holiday again, I hope it works out this time we have already had to postpone it two times.

      I always wanted to ask you Tricia, have you been a Christian most of your life or only the later years and are your family Christians too. Please don’t feel you have to reply but I would love to know how you found the Lord.

      Christian Love from both of us – Anne


  4. From the time I started Blogging with you Son I was blessed by your willingness to seek God with all your heart, you went looking for the answers and I was amazed and blessed by them. God has gifted you with knowledge of life and even at your young age you understand so much more than some who are advanced in years and with you asking for The Holy Spirit and God’s wisdom, Jesus will lead you into all Truth, which we stand up for and sometimes this will mean we are rejected or ignored, but our Eternal treasure will be great and it’s value is beyond reckoning in earthly terms.

    This is not just banter or joking, if I had a Son or Grandson I would be greatly blessed if he was just like you.

    Christian Love Always – Grannie Annie.


    • Your words are always so encouraging, Grannie Annie!
      I am sincerely blessed to have someone who values my thoughts and my person, as much as you do.
      God is really faithful to fulfill His word and promises. “Seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened to you, ask and you shall receive…”. Somewhere Jesus said, “if men know how to give good gifts, how much more will our heavenly father. Will He not give us the Holy Spirit if we ask of Him?” – paraphrased in my own words.
      There is obviously a huge difference between instinct and wisdom from the Holy Spirit.
      God has uniquely blessed us with the gift of the Holy Spirit and that it why we are different.
      I always appreciate you for your uniqueness, and I trust that God has placed everyone in our lives for a purpose.
      I am glad that God placed you where I would come in contact with the words you share.
      You have been a blessing to me and to many.
      God sees your heart and He will not leave you unrewarded.
      Remain blessed!
      Regards to Ron.


      • Thank you Son for being you, God bless you greatly as you reach out and share His, wisdom, reasoning and Logic so that many more of God’s Redeemed Children my grow in Love and Holiness, having God’s grace and walking in it not abusing it, as we know we are not to grieve The Holy Spirit.

        Blessings – Grannie Annie


  5. Wow! Wow!! Wow!!!
    What else can I say?
    Certain people have really lived practically for others.
    This is astounding!
    Thanks for sharing, Grannie Annie.
    Unlike Ron, I’m hearing of the Anzacs for the first time.
    Lovely post!


    • Thank you Son, I’m sure you could also share some wonderful Truths about your people who have given their all for others. I’m pleased you enjoyed the Man and his Donkey, Anzac day means a lot to many Australians, but I don’t know many Aussies who Blog and comment, so I’m thankful you and others responded but than you always take an interest in what interests others, I have seen this in your comments both on our Blog and on other Blogs, for quiet a long time, you are a blessing to me and I’m sure them too, I look forward to your next Post.

      But first Son back to my Question on the last Post ….What does God call those who are His, OK so you can rejoice with me, He tells us ……

      But ye are a chosen Generation, a Royal Priesthood, an Holy Nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.1 Peter 2:9-10

      Christian Love Always from both of us – Grannie Annie


      • God has said awesome things concerning us, Grannie Annie.
        I have particularly been fascinated about this one you shared, from childhood.
        Thanks for that reassuring reminder.
        I hope to post again, soon.
        I appreciate how much you value my thoughts. I am grateful once again.
        All the best… and regards to Ron!


        • You are spot on Son but than we have an Awesome God with an Upper case “A” and all he created is awesome and when we are created anew, meaning Born again, we are no longer just human we are Supper human, we have The Holy Spirit indwelling us.

          I’m pleased you were blessed Son by my Childhood faith in Jesus, He is still my Best friend and always will be.

          Blessings – Anne


          • That’s so beautiful, Grannie Annie!
            I am always inspired by your warm and refreshing words.
            Your heart is full of faith and love!
            Thanks for affording me the privilege to enjoy from it!


            • Thank you Son for being willing to listen to Grannie Annie share about yours and her King, for your kind words, for your Loving heart, for your wisdom in seeking God’s Truth, for your compassion and for just being you, a very special young Man.

              Blessings – Grannie Annie


              • Of course, I will always be willing to listen to you, Grannie Annie. Once, Jesus asked his disciples why they had not left, like the rest. Their response was revealing. They said; “you alone have the words of eternal life”.
                With a smile, I can confidently say that your words are always refreshing.
                There you come again with some sweet words!
                I’m so enjoying them.


                • Thank you Son , don’t they say sweets for the sweet!

                  Yes True Son, when Simon Peter said to Jesus what you shared, Pentecost had not yet come, we now ask and receive in Faith, The Holy Spirit (Luke11:13) and also God’s wisdom (James1:5-6) (Proverbs4:7) and than we know God’s Truth (1Corinthians 2:9-16 ) this is for all those who believe in Jesus but of course someone who doesn’t believe in their heart wouldn’t ask anyway, they would think they know it all.

                  Do you want to hear some really sweet words Son ….

                  1John 2:26-28 These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is Truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him.

                  How good is That!

                  Christian Love from both of us – Anne.


                  • That’s so good, Grannie Annie!
                    Christ did not leave us comfortless, He sent us; “Another of the same kind”, the Holy Spirit, to guide us into all truth.
                    I am so excited, not just by your knowledge alone, but by your willingness to share.
                    Remain blessed and regards to Ron.


                    • Found it, sorry Son, I don’t know why your comments were in Spam, I will always answer them so check if you do not receive a reply.

                      I will answer on top of Post Son we are running out of room.


                    • I’ve seen your answer Grannie. Thanks for going through the rigors of restoring my comments from the spam. Sometimes, we never can tell why certain malfunctions occur, but this one has become evidence to prove the fact that you have a large heart that seeks out to enhance the good in others, by appreciating and encouraging in line with scriptures, no matter what it takes.
                      Thanks once again!


  6. Ron says:

    The well known story of Simpson and his donkey , was a story of courage and ingenuity and selflessness ,to come out of the ill fated Gallipoli campaign . It was one of the bright lights to shine out of a dark and poorly directed campaign.

    The courage and doggedness of the Anzacs is a well recorded fact , and we remember them each Anzac Day . Giving your life in service for others is the ultimate sacrifice , but giving your life for ALL mankind , to bring them to a relationship with God , is only something Jesus could do.



You are a Person of Worth, Share your Heart thoughts I value you and them.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s