South Tyneside schools, war veterans and military organisations joined forces to commemorate the centenary of the death of a Great War hero from South Shields.
The Australian High Commissioner, the Hon Alexander Downer AC, is visited South Tyneside as part of special celebrations marking 100 years to the day Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick died in 1915.
South Shields-born Kirkpatrick, known as ‘The Man with the Donkey’, risked his own life to rescue around 300 wounded Australian and New Zealand soldiers from the frontline during the Gallipoli campaign of 1915. He carried the soldiers to safety using his trusted donkey.
He was killed aged 22 by a sniper’s bullet on May 19, but his legendary bravery continues to inspire people to this day.
During his visit, Mr Downer, who was accompanied by Mr Robert Taylor, the Deputy High Commissioner for New Zealand, took a tour of South Shields Town Hall, and attend a service of commemoration at the Kirkpatrick Memorial in Ocean Road South Shields.
After laying a wreath at the Kirkpatrick Memorial Mr Downer headed to the coast where he unveil a new war memorial at the town’s new Littlehaven Promenade overlooking South Shields seafront where Kirkpatrick once worked on the donkey rides during the summer holidays as a young boy.
The new plaque will commemorate the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign and acknowledge all the men from across the North East, including more than 100 men from the local area, who were killed in action at Gallipoli.