A SOUTH Tyneside pensioner angry at the latest medal snub for borough war hero John Simpson Kirkpatrick believes a rare book provides ample evidence of his heroism.
Amy Jago, 88, dug out a copy of The Man With The Donkey: John Simpson, the Good Samaritan of Gallipoli from her bookshelf this week.
Written by Sir Irving Benson and published in 1965, it portrays Kirkpatrick as a true hero, telling how the expatriate South Tynesider put his life on the line time and time again during the battle of Gallipoli in 1915.
But that account is at odds with the findings of a two-year Australian defence tribunal. It ruled that there is insufficient evidence to award Kirkpatrick a posthumous Victoria Cross.
And the tribunal even cast doubt on the South Shields-born soldier’s famous heroism, claiming it would have been impossible for him to have rescued 300 wounded soldiers, a feat he has been credited with in the past.
The findings have shocked Mrs Jago, of Temple Green, South Shields.
She was given Sir Irving Benson’s book as a gift by a nephew many years ago.
The author paid a visit to South Shields as part of his research, dedicating the book to Kirkpatrick’s sister, Annie Simpson Pearson.
Mrs Jago said: “I think it is horrible what the tribunal has done by denigrating Kirkpatrick’s good name.
“There is no doubt from reading the book that he risked his life every day, rescuing wounded soldiers and dodging Turkish snipers.
“Even if he had saved just one life, he would have been a hero.
“My brother Norman Hogg has lived in New Zealand for 60 years, and if he mentions to anyone on Anzac Day that he is from South Shields, Kirkpatrick’s home town, he never has to pay for a drink.
“That’s the high regard in which Kirkpatrick is thought of there.
“I really think that this tribunal has done Kirkpatrick a terrible disservice, but he will always remain a hero in my eyes.”
Ironically, Sapper Horace Moore-Jones, an artist who fought alongside Kirkpatrick at Gallipoli and became famous for his painting of a man with a donkey, recently received a posthumous VC.