Gallipoli medal commemorating South Shields' 'man with the donkey' given to museum

Coun Peter Boyack, ;left, president of the South Shields Royal British Legion, presents the Commemorative Medallion toAdam Bell, assistant keeper of social history at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums.
Coun Peter Boyack, ;left, president of the South Shields Royal British Legion, presents the Commemorative Medallion toAdam Bell, assistant keeper of social history at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums.

A special medallion commemorating the actions of South Shields' famous 'man with the donkey' is to go on display at the town's Museum and Art Gallery.

Coun Peter Boyack, the president of the South Shields Royal British Legion, presented South Shields Museum with a Gallipoli medallion from Australia.

The specially-minted Anzac Commemorative Medallion.

The specially-minted Anzac Commemorative Medallion.

The medallion commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings in 1915, during which South Shields-born John Simpson Kirkpatrick saved more than 300 allied soldiers.

The specially-minted Anzac Commemorative Medallion was presented to Coun Boyack by The Doyalson-Wyee RSL Sub-Branch, in New South Wales, Australia, to display in South Shields Museum’s collection of items commemorating local hero Kirkpatrick.

He risked his own life to rescue wounded Australian and New Zealand soldiers from the frontline at Gallipoli using his trusted donkey.

He was killed, aged 22, by a sniper’s bullet on May 19, 1915 but his legendary bravery continues to inspire people to this day.

Coun Peter Boyack said: “I am delighted to present South Shields Museum with this medallion and to know that the centenary of Kirkpatrick’s extraordinary heroism will be commemorated and can be viewed by residents and visitors to the borough.

“I thought South Shields Museum would be a fitting home for the medallion, with the statue of Kirkpatrick just outside and the museum's existing collection commemorating the Great War hero.”

The medallion is part of The Doyalson-Wyee RSL Sub-Branch’s own celebrations which included giving 5,000 students, who attend school in the Doyalson area on the central coast of New South Wales, a medallion each as a lasting reminder of their forefathers’ sacrifice, 100 years ago.

Adam Bell, assistant keeper of social history at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, said: “We are delighted to have received this fantastic addition to our collection of Kirkpatrick memorabilia.

"The medallion is now on display within our Kirkpatrick exhibition for the public to enjoy and find out more about his extraordinary story.”

The Gallipoli Medallion features the rising sun as worn by Australian and New Zealand soldiers in the First World War, the Flanders Poppy in recognition of all Australians who fought in Gallipoli, imagery of John Simpson Kirkpatrick and his donkey.

On the back it features an image of the Lone pine, which stood throughout the Gallipoli conflict and the words ‘courage, mateship, endurance and sacrifice’.

The black ribbon is printed with the words ‘The Anzacs’ and the medallion is inscribed with John Simpson Kirkpatrick’s name.