The humble home of Gallipoli hero Kirkpatrick

The house in Bertram Street from which John Simpson Kirkpatrick left for Australia.
The house in Bertram Street from which John Simpson Kirkpatrick left for Australia.

“It’s a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road and ... there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to,” to slightly misquote Tolkien.

John Simpson Kirkpatrick certainly couldn’t have had any idea of where his journey would end, when he stepped out of this door, as a young man loo for adventure.

The path would eventually take him to his death on the battlefield of Gallipoli, and into legend.

This is a postscript to my recent pieces on how it has become habitual to say that Kirkpatrick’s birthplace in Shields was Bertram Street, when, in fact, he was born in South Eldon Street.

But Bertram Street does have a place in the story of his journey towards posthumous fame, being the house from which he left for Australia, to see the world.

This is it – No 14 Bertram Street, on the corner with HS Edward Street, where the family were living by 1909 – the year the young Jack left, following the death of his father just a few days before.

He walked out of this door to join the steamer Heighington.

It was bound for the Mediterranean and North Africa (and which was later sunk by a U-boat in 1916, albeit without casualties).

It was from the Heighington that Kirkpatrick subsequently joined another steamer, the Yeddo, from which he (and others of the crew) eventually jumped ship in Australia.