The ANZACs have a great hero called John 'Jack' Simpson Kirkpatrick who enlisted and was chosen as a field ambulance stretcher-bearer in Perth on 23 August 1914. On 25 April 1915, long with the rest of the Australian and New Zealand contingent he landed at the wrong beach on a piece of wild, impossible and savage terrain now known as ANZAC Cove. Attack and counter attack began.
During the morning hours of 26 April, along with his fellows, Jack was carrying casualties back to the beach over his shoulder. It was then that he saw the donkey, and having worked as a donkey-lad as a young boy, he knew exactly what to do.
From then on he became part of the scene at Gallipoli walking along next to his donkey, forever singing and whistling as he held on to his wounded passengers, seemingly completely fatalistic and scornful of the extreme danger. He led a charmed life from 25 April 1915 until a machine gun bullet hit him in his back on the 19 May 1915. In those 24 days he managed to rescue over 300 men down the notorious Monash Valley. His heroic feat was accomplished under constant and ferocious attack from the artillery, field guns and sniper fire. Here is what people said about him:
Captain C.Longmore, in 1933, remembered how the soldiers, “watched him spellbound from the trenches … it was one of the most inspiring sights of those early Gallipoli days.”
Colonel John Monash 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 rife and shrapnel fire.”
John Simpson gave his life for the wounded. He was the picture of courage and we are reminded of Jesus’ saying, “Greater love has no man than he lay down his life for his friends.”