South Tyneside to honour Kirkpatrick and fellow heroes with virtual commemorations on Anzac Day
One of South Tyneside’s most famous heroes and those who served alongside him will be honoured in special commemorations on Sunday, April 25.
Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance commemorated in Australia and New Zealand to honour members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought in the battle of Gallipoli during the First World War.
Among those who lost their lives was South Shields-born John Simpson Kirkpatrick, known as ‘The Man with the Donkey’, who risked his own life to rescue more than 300 wounded soldiers from the frontline during the Gallipoli campaign of 1915.
He carried the soldiers to safety using his trusted donkey until he was killed aged 22 by a sniper’s bullet on 19 May 1915.
The memorial at Littlehaven Promenade was unveiled in 2015 to mark the 100th anniversary of Kirkpatrick’s death and the Gallipoli campaign.
South Tyneside’s traditional Anzac Day service, usually attended by schoolchildren, veterans, dignitaries and serving members of the armed forces, is not taking place again this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and Government restrictions on gatherings.
Communities across South Tyneside are instead being encouraged to join the council to pay their respects from home with a special online commemoration to be screened across the council’s social media channels at 11am on Sunday.
The virtual tribute will feature a message and footage of the Mayor of South Tyneside, Councillor Norman Dick and Mayoress Jean Williamson laying wreaths at the Kirkpatrick Statue in Ocean Road and Gallipoli memorial on Littlehaven Beach.
The Australian and New Zealand flags will also fly from South Shields Town Hall.
The Mayor said: “Anzac Day gives us an opportunity to remember John Simpson Kirkpatrick for his incredible bravery at Gallipoli. He was a son of South Shields, a local hero, and we are proud to honour him and pay tribute to all those service personnel who lost their lives during the First World War.
“We hope that people join for our digital Anzac Day commemoration as we take a moment to reflect and recognise the contribution and sacrifices of all those who have served their country in times of conflict as well as remember John Simpson Kirkpatrick, his comrades and their immense bravery.”