"Simpson and his Donkey" is a famous story from World War I that has become part of Australian folklore. The story tells of the bravery of John Simpson Kirkpatrick, a stretcher-bearer in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), who used a donkey to transport wounded soldiers from the battlefield to the aid station during the Gallipoli campaign in 1915.

Simpson arrived in Gallipoli in May 1915, and he quickly realized the difficult terrain and conditions that made it nearly impossible to transport the wounded on foot. He began using a donkey that he had found on the beach to transport the wounded soldiers from the front line to the aid station. Simpson and his donkey became a common sight on the battlefield, and they soon gained a reputation for their bravery and dedication to saving lives.

Sadly, Simpson was killed by enemy fire on May 19, 1915, while carrying a wounded soldier on his donkey. 

This video shows how many people remember his courage.

What can we learn from Simpson?

Here are five character qualities that Simpson showed:

  1. Selflessness: Simpson demonstrated selflessness by putting the needs of others before his own. 

  2. Perseverance: Simpson persevered through difficult situations, remaining committed to his mission of helping others inspite of the obstacles.

  3. Sacrifice: Simpson gave his life while trying to save others. This is a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice that some people are willing to make for the greater good.

  4. Humility: Simpson remained humble and never sought recognition or accolades for his actions.

  5. Leadership: Simpson showed leadership by taking charge of the situation and doing what needed to be done. 

Going Further

Simpson was great at helping his mates.

Jesus went one step further when he told the story of the Good Samaritan. 

This story teaches us about compassion and kindness towards others, even those who may be considered different or unpopular.

It's a story that can be relevant to anyone, regardless of their cultural background or religious beliefs.

What stood out to you in this story?

Is there anyone in your community who needs help?  How can you help them this week?


John Simpson Kirkpatrick was born in South Shields, England, in 1892. His family moved to Australia in 1909, settling in the coastal town of South Shields. Kirkpatrick worked a variety of jobs, including as a coal miner, before enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force in 1914, shortly after the outbreak of World War I.