Yesterday at City Diggers S produced the following pin, which he had found on the street on Anzac Day.
He asked me to track it down on the Internet. This is the nearest I could find – on EBay.
As you can see there are differences: count the legs! That pin is from the year 2000 by the ANZAC Day Commemoration Committee of QLD and is on sale for $6.50. Compare the statue at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
The story is well known in Australia. I posted on it in 2005.
It’s a nice story of altruism, and of a slightly shady character who did do heroic things. I remember first reading the story fifty-three years ago in my Grade III Social Studies text, along with stories about the boy who stuck his finger in the dyke, Grace Darling, Florence Nightingale, William Wilberforce, the boy gunner at the Battle of Jutland, and even Abraham of Ur and Mohammed.
I guess all these stories were meant to inculcate such virtues as daring to stand against the crowd, and valuing the needs of community above one’s own selfish interests. Altruism and sense of community are not actually values the current government always practises, but what is a little hypocrisy between friends after all?
There are some questions that can be raised, however, about mythologising and sanitising history. Here is the legendary version faithfully replicated by Bundeena Public School, pretty much just like what I read fifty-three years ago. You might like to compare it with this version:
Jack Simpson Kirkpatrick was born in 1892 at South Shields in the north east of England. He came from a large family, being one of eight children. As a child during his summer holidays he used to work as a donkey-lad on the sands of South Shields. He had a great affinity with animals, in particular donkeys. Later he deserted ship in Australia when he heard of the war with Germany.
Fearing that a deserter might not be accepted into the Australian Army, he dropped Kirkpatrick from his name and enlisted simply as John Simpson.
He was to become Australia’s most famous, and best-loved military hero…
See also Wikipedia.
There is a Wollongong connection as in 1910 Simpson was a miner in the area. See Michael Organ, “Simpson of Gallipoli” PDF.
According to a recent article by Peter Cochrane (‘Simpson Uncensored’, Good Weekend, 21 April 1990), the letters reveal Simpson as a ‘radical Labor man, reflecting on his attitude to the “old country”’ and on his working life in the new, displaying ‘his wilful temperament and his apparently short fuse’.
Simpson’s early years were difficult. His father, a ship’s captain, was incapacitated in 1904 and his son was forced to go to work as a dairy hand to help support the family.
Just two days after his father’s funeral Simspon joined the merchant navy and sailed from England aboard the SS Heighington on 19 October 1909, and at the age of 17. After briefly returning home for Christmas that year, he again sailed aboard the SS Yedda on 12 February 1910, this time for Australia. Little was he to know that Christmas 1909 would be the last time he saw his beloved mother and sister Anne.
On 13 May 1910 Simspon left the Yedda at Newcastle, New South Wales, and spent the following two months travelling through part of Queensland and New South Wales, ‘humping his bluey’, before heading south towards lllawarra at the end of July. One of his letters, dated 31 July 1910, describes his arrival at Coledale from Sydney..
From late July to mid December 1910 Simspon was resident in lllawarra, at work in the local coal mines. According to information gleaned from the letters and postcards, he spent about a month at Coledale before moving to Corrimal mid August…
Early in December he moved from Corrimal to Mount Kembla, telling his mother in a letter dated 16 January 1911:
… I left Corrimal about a week after I wrote you that letter with the Xmas cards in it I went from Corrimal to a place called Mt. Kembla but I only stopped there a week for it was right up on top of the mountain and it was a very quiet place so I left and worked my passage to Fremantle in Western Australia.
By this time he was second steward aboard the SS Kooringa, a cargo ship which serviced the Australian coast. Whilst serving on the Kooringa, Simpson visited Port Kembla a number of times, writing letters from that port in 1911 and 1913. The Kooringa regularly sailed between Port Kembla and Fremantle, visiting other ports such as Melbourne, Sydney and Newcastle. Simpson stayed with the Kooringa until about May 1913, afterwards spending a couple of months ashore at Melbourne resting and recuperated from almost 4 years at sea. By December he was working on the SS Tarcoola out of Adelaide, and joined the SS Yankalilla around February of 1914. During this period he variously worked in the messroom and as a stoker…
Simpson enlisted in Fremantle in August 1914. He took part in the Gallipoli landing on 25 April 1915. He was killed on 9 May 1915.