Kirkpatrick, John Simpson (202) aka Simpson, John
Place of Birth: South Shields, England
Age: 22 years 2 months
Enlistment Details: Tuesday, 25 August 1914 – Blackboy Hill, WA
Service Number: 202 view online service record
Next of Kin:
Sarah Kirkpatrick (mother)
14 Bertram Street
South Shields, England
Date: Monday, 2 November 1914
Ship: HMAT Medic A7
Port: Fremantle, WA
Unit: 3rd Field Ambulance – “C” Section – Bearer Section
KIA: Wednesday, 19 May 1915
John Simpson Kirkpatrick was born in South Shields, Co Durham on 6 July 1892 and at the age of joined the merchant navy. In May 1910 he deserted at Newcastle, NSW and effectively became a swagman trying work in the cane fields and stations of Queensland, the coal mines in the Illawarra district of NSW and on the goldfields in Western Australia before returning to the sea working on vessels around the Australian coast.
To his family he was Jack and he regularly wrote to his mother and sister, Annie, in England giving his current vessel and port as his address. One such letter was written to his mother on 19 November 1911 from the Mission to Seamen in Melbourne while his ship, the SS Korringa (often spelt Corringa in his letters), was berthed at Port Melbourne.
In June 1913, in another of his regular letters to his mother, Jack wrote from 616 Bourke Street, West Melbourne saying he was having a spell ashore in Melbourne and had been laid up with influenza.
Then on 11 August 1913, Jack wrote to his mother from 330 Raglan Street, Port Melbourne*. Feeling much better but ‘dead broke’, he was ready to return to work on the coastal vessels which was confirmed in his letter of 31 December 1913 written onboard the SS Tarcoola at Port Pirie, SA.
At the outbreak of war, Jack enlisted in Western Australian under the name John Simpson. He was assigned to the 3rd Field Ambulance and was part of the force that landed at Gallipoli at dawn on 25 April 1915. Shortly after the landing he started work ferrying wounded soldiers from the fighting to the beach with the aid of a donkey he had somehow acquired.
Jack was killed in action on 19 May 1915. He was mentioned in despatches but received no gallantry awards, however, the legend of ‘Simpson and his donkey’ has come to represent the selfless heroism of the Anzacs.
* 330 Raglan Street, Port Melbourne is almost certainly 330 Ross Street at the corner of Raglan Street.
Adb.anu.edu.au. Biography – John Simpson Kirkpatrick – Australian Dictionary of Biography. [online] Available at: http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/kirkpatrick-john-simpson-6975 [Accessed 18 May 2015]
Australian War Memorial. Letters from John Simpson Kirkpatrick to his Mother, 1911. [online] Available at: https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1304969?image=1 [Accessed 18 August 2017]
Australian War Memorial. Letters from John Simpson Kirkpatrick to his Mother, 1913. [online] Available at: https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1305060?image=1 [Accessed 18 August 2017]