Writer’s plea to remember hero

Remembered ... Jamie Brown, starring in play The Man and The Donkey.
Remembered ... Jamie Brown, starring in play The Man and The Donkey.

THE life of South Tyneside war hero, John Simpson Kirkpatrick, is being immortalised in a new book.

Historian Jim Mulholland, a member of South Shields Local History Group, has pulled together a raft of information about Kirkpatrick and is now putting the finishing touches to the book dedicated to the soldier known simply as ‘the man with the donkey’.

South Shields-born Kirkpatrick is a national hero in Australia after rescuing soldiers at the battle for Gallipoli during the First World War, using a donkey to help transport casualties. The former merchant seaman joined the Australian army as a stretcher bearer after jumping ship.

Mr Mulholland said: “A lot of people in South Tyneside may not know of Kirkpatrick, but their grandfathers and grandmothers may well have known him as a boy before he left the town to go to sea.

“After his death, a number of people wrote to the Shields Gazette about him, and I would like to obtain photographs of these people.”

Kirkpatrick was born in South Shields and joined the Australian army as a way of getting back to England but, instead of being posted to the Western Front, he was sent to Gallipoli in Turkey.

After 24 days of donkey trips onto the battlefield under heavy fire, he was shot dead by a Turkish sniper.

His story is now a play – The Man And The Donkey – which runs at the Customs House, South Shields, until tomorrow.

To help him finish his book, Mr Mulholland is keen to hear from descendants of John Shaw (born 1887), Billy Lowes (b.1888), WJ Bowman (b.1891), Frederick William Voyce (b.1890), WD King (b.1879), John Fenwick (b.1911), Foster Buddle (b.1894), Wilf Robson (b.1891), Louis Halliday (b.1890), John Waters (b.1892), Adam Lillico (b.1905), William Cockburn (b.1881), Ettie Crozier (b.1876), Andrew Anderson (a butcher), Shields man Mr EH Wilkinson and Ella Davidson, who was Kirkpatrick’s sister’s best friend.

Anyone with information can call 420 7690 or e-mail jim3@blueyonder.co.uk

lisa.nightingale@northeast-press.co.uk