UK dedicates Oz

The statute of Simpson and his donkey who saved lives at Anzac Cove.
The statute of Simpson and his donkey who saved lives at Anzac Cove.

Sub-branch vice-president Ian Wragg and his wife Tina left Perth in March and were travelling via ship, due to arrive on Thursday.

President Peter Lofdahl said the couple would lay a wreath at an Anzac Day service in South Shields, where a statue celebrates Gallipoli stretcher bearer John Simpson Kirkpatrick and his donkey.

Mr Lofdahl said the statue was found in a shed several years ago, but nobody in the town knew about it, so Mr Wragg�s brother-in-law contacted him.

�It�s a replica of the one that�s outside the National War Memorial (in Canberra),� he said.

Mr Lofdahl said South Shields would host an Anzac Day service on Saturday, and dedicate the statue of Simpson and his Donkey, which they had relocated to the foreshore.

�We are quite proud of it because this will be only the second time that Anzac Day will be marked in South Shields,� he said. �Nine schools will be represented in an Anzac Day service, which is unique because Anzac Day is not commemorated in the UK.�

Mr Lofdahl said the Department of Veterans Affairs and the City of Wanneroo had provided books and other gifts for the students, which was why the Wraggs went by ship rather than plane. He said they were planning to create DVDs of the services in South Shields and Quinns Rocks.

*** JOHN Simpson Kirkpatrick (22) was born in South Shields and according to the Australian War Memorial website, was an unlikely Australian hero.

�Having deserted from the merchant navy in 1910, he tramped around Australia and worked in a variety of jobs,� the website said.

�He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, expecting this would give him the chance to get back to England.

�Instead, Private Simpson found himself at Anzac Cove on April 25, 1915, and was killed less than four weeks later.

�Instructed to recover and help the wounded he (unarmed) undertook this work enthusiastically.

�Famously, he used a small donkey to carry men down from the front line, often exposing himself to fire.�