Wednesday 19 May 1915 – We Lost 587

by greatwarliveslost

The Man with his Donkey

The Man with the Donkey

At 03:30 over 42,000 Turkish soldiers launch a last desperate all-out attack on the invaders at ANZAC in an attempt to drive them back into the sea.  The Turks are caught out in the open, exposed to the murderous machine gun and artillery. They suffer 3,000 killed and over 10,000 wounded in these attacks over open ground.  The one sided battle lingers on until around midday before finally being halted. The ANZACs suffer 168 killed during the attacks.

At Courtney’s Post, a section of trench that has been captured from the Turks, Lieutenant Keith George Wallace Crabbe (Australian Infantry) seeks four volunteers to cover Lance Corporal Albert Jacka’s actions that will win him the Victoria Cross. These four volunteers, including Private Francis Edward Poliness, make a heroic bayonet charge from a concealed communications trench.  When this fails, Poliness’s party throws two bombs creating a smoke screen for Jacka to launch a successful individual rear assault.  Poliness himself shoots two Turks attempting to crawl over the parapet.

The age limit for recruits is fixed at 40.

Today’s losses include:

  • The Man with the Donkey
  • A battalion commander
  • The son-in-law of the 2nd Baron Raglan
  • The son of a General
  • A football player for South Melbourne
  • The son of the 8th Chief Justice of New South Wales
  • Viscount Wendover
  • Son of the 1st Marquess of Lincolnshire
  • A holder of the Humane Society’s Bronze Medal for life saving
  • The Headmaster at Milton-of-Campsie School
  • A man whose son will be killed later in the Great War
  • Multiple families that will lose two sons in the Great War
  • A family that will lose three sons in the Great War

 Today’s highlighted casualties are:

 Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick (3rd Field Ambulance, Australian Army Medical Corps) is killed in action at age 22. He had enlisted as Simpson because he had deserted from the Mercantile Marine and feared being rejected. He was the “Man with the Donkey” at Gallipoli where as a stretcher-bearer he rescued many men while leading his donkey down Monash Valley in only twenty-four days

After landing at Anzac Cove on 25th April 1915, he obtained a donkey and began carrying wounded soldiers from the frontline to the beach, for evacuation. He continued this work for three and a half weeks, often under fire, until he is killed. Kirkpatrick is one of the best known soldiers of the Australian Imperial Force. However, like many members of the AIF, he had been born in the UK; at South Shields, County Durham, England to a Scottish couple, who had moved to England in 1886. On 25th August 1914, in Perth, Western Australia, he joined the AIF and the Australian Army Medical Corps, under the name of “John Simpson”, as a stretcher bearer. He was given the service number of 202 and underwent basic training at Blackboy Hill Camp. He was assigned to C Squadron, 3rd Field Ambulance. The 3rd Field Ambulance travelled to Gallipoli with the Australian 3rd Brigade aboard HMT Devanha and transferred to her lifeboats via Royal Navy destroyer HMS Ribble which then towed them towards the beach for the landing. The 3rd Brigade was the first ANZAC unit ashore. Kirkpatrick was the only member of his bearer section of four to reach the beach unscathed. Kirkpatrick found a donkey, which he named variously “Duffy”, “Murphy” and “Abdul”, that had been landed by a field artillery unit, and began operating independently. Accounts vary as to whether he had received official approval for this practice at the time. Leading this donkey, he began his journeys from the beach, up “Shrapnel Gully” and “Monash Valley”. On his way up he would carry water, on the way back wounded, particularly those with leg wounds. At night he camps with an Indian Army field ambulance unit, near the beach.

This morning after a major attack has been repulsed, Kirkpatrick begins his usual routine. He is returning down Monash Valley with two wounded men, when they come under machine gun fire near “Steele’s Post”. The three men were killed, Kirkpatrick being hit in the heart.  He will be mentioned in despatches for “gallant and distinguished service in the field”.  There is a case for Simpson being awarded a Victoria Cross based on diary entries by his Commanding Officer that express the hope he would receive either a Distinguished Conduct Medal or Victoria Cross. However this officer never makes a formal recommendation for either of these medals.

  •  Lieutenant Colonel Wilfrid Robert Abel Smith CMG (commanding 2nd Grenadier Guards) dies of wounds at age 44. He is the son-in-law of the 2nd Baron Raglan.
  • Captain and Adjutant Gordon Townshend Wallack (Australian Infantry) is killed in action at Lone Pine on Gallipoli at age 29. He is the son of Major General Ernest T Wallack.
  • Lieutenant James Anderson Kerr Johnston (Australian Imperial Forces) dies of wounds in Cairo received in action at Gallipoli at age 31. He is a football player with the South Melbourne Club.
  • Lieutenant Laurence Whistler Street (Australian Infantry) is killed at Johnston’s Jolly at age 21. He is the son of the ‘Honorable’ Mr. Justice Philip Whistler Street the 8th Chief Justice of New South Wales and the brother of ‘Sir” Kenneth Whistler Street the 10th Chief Justice of New South Wales.
  • Temporary Lieutenant ‘Lord’ Albert Edward Samuel Charles Robert Wynn-Carrington (Royal Horse Guards) dies of wounds at age 20. He is the Viscount Wendover and the only son of the 1st Marquess of Lincolnshire KG.
  • Second Lieutenant Thomas Fuller Stocker (Royal Engineers) is killed by a sniper at age 20. His brother will be killed in March 1918.
  • Second Lieutenant Sydney William Paine (New Zealand Engineers) is killed at Quinn’s Post at age 24. He is a holder of the Humane Society Bronze Medal.
  • Sergeant William Murray Smith (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) dies of wounds at age 48. He is traveling to see his wounded son who will be killed in action in June 1916. The elder Smith is the Headmaster at Milton-of-Campsie School.
  • Private Alfred Ernest Vile (Australian Infantry) is killed in action at age 21 three weeks after his older brother was killed. His epitaph reads: “God Have Mercy on His Soul and Let Perpetual Light Shine Upon Him”.
  • Private David Purdie Clement (Australian Infantry) is killed in action at age 22. His brother will be killed in July 1916.
  • Trooper James Dilworth Bradley Mossman (Auckland Mounted Rifles) is killed at age 21. His brother died of pneumonia in Egypt before the Gallipoli landing.
  • Private Thomas Alfred Atwill (Australian Infantry) is killed at age 40. His two younger brothers will be killed later in the war, the first next August and the second in January 1917.
  • Private William Ernest Waterfield (East Surrey Regiment) is killed at age 26. His brother will be killed next May.