An Anzac's childhood: John Simpson Kirkpatrick (1892–1915)

John H Pearn and David Gardner-Medwin
Med J Aust 2003; 178 (8): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2003.tb05259.x
Published online: 21 April 2003

John Simpson Kirkpatrick, generally known as "Simpson", is one of the most famous Anzacs of the Gallipoli campaign.1-3 From the Gallipoli landing on 25 April 1915 until his death 25 days later, Simpson and his donkey retrieved perhaps 300 casualties from the battlefield. He did this work independently, sometimes in disregard of orders, and frequently with a disregard for danger that kept the onlooking soldiers in the trenches enthralled as they watched him moving calmly to rescue wounded soldiers while under direct fire from the enemy. He is often thought of as the quintessential larrikin Anzac, although he was born in England and only spent four years in Australia before enlisting in the Australian Army Medical Corps in 1914.

  • John H Pearn1
  • David Gardner-Medwin2

  • 1 Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Herston, QLD.
  • 2 Station Road, Heddon-On-The-Wall, UK.



We thank particularly Dr Christopher Gardner-Thorpe, Consultant Neurologist of Exeter, for much encouragement; Mr John Moreels of the Ward Philipson Group, Gateshead; and Mr James Fell and the Tyne and Wear Museums for gracious permission to publish photographs.


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