Resources for Anzac Day lessons


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The Man with the Donkey

See also

Simpson and his Donkey
The legend of John Simpson Kirkpatrick




Medium length biographies

John Simpson Kirkpatrick (from the Australian Dictionary of Biography)Kirkpatrick, John Simpson (1892-1915) (Australian National University)
Australian Dictionary of Biography entry..

John Simpson Kirkpatrick (Wikipedia)
From the free Wikipedia Encyclopedia, which is written by volunteers..

Australia's favourite hero (

Jack Simpson Kirkpatrick.

Simpson and his donkey (from - The man with the donkey
(archived from
Brief story of John Simpson Kirkpatrick. Includes the variety of names he and his donkey(s) had. Answers the question, "What happened to the donkey after Simpson was killed?"

John Simpson Kirkpatrick - the Man with the Donkey(

The story of the Man with the Donkey.

Simpson's Donkey (
The story of Simpson and his donkey.


Short biographies Simpson assisting a wounded soldierSimpson and his donkey: Hero of ANZAC (
Includes photo with donkey, and bronze statue.

Simpson and His Donkey (John Simpson Kirkpatrick) (
Australian War Memorial encyclopedia entry.

Longer biographies Not Only a Hero (
"An Illustrated Life of Simpson, the Man with the Donkey"

Simpson and his Donkey - John Simpson Kirkpatrick (
1913 portrait photo, early life, the first 24 hours at Anzac, Simpson finds a donkey, other information about the donkeys, the daily routine, his last day..

Simpson and his donkeySimpson and his donkey (

The story of John Simpson Kirkpatrick's life, illustrated with images that include his medals and special stamps issued to commemorate Simpson and his donkey.

An Anzac's Childhood: John Simpson Kirkpatrick (1892-1915) [Archived pdf, The Medical Journal of Australia]
Covers early childhood, schooling and teenage years of John Simpson Kirkpatrick..
(The information at the original url ( is now only password-accessible)
Book reviews Book review: Simpson and his Donkey (
Review of a book on Simpson and his Donkey written by Mark Greenwood. (See also Classroom activities below.)

Book review: Dust, Donkeys and Delusions ( 24 Nov 2012
Author Graham Wilson argues that although many claims about Simpson and his donkey are exaggerated, the legend serves a valuable function. See also review under "Getting the facts right" below.


Anzac Kids


Getting the facts right Anzac Day Media Style Guide 2016: John Simpson Kirkpatrick (1892-1915) [pdf] (
This style guide clarifies the basic facts of the story of Simpson and his Donkey - see page 16.

Dust, Donkeys and Delusions: The Myth of Simpson and his Donkey Exposed (
This publisher's website summarises the approach taken by author Graham Wilson in presenting the story of Simpson and his Donkey as a misleading myth. For sample pages click on the link at the bottom of the page ("CLICK HERE TO VIEW SAMPLE CHAPTERS"). An alternative means of viewing sample pages is to search for the title in Google Books.
Letters between Simpson and his mother and sister Simpson (from image A02827 in AWM collection)Behind the Anzac myth of John Simpson Kirkpatrick and his donkey at Gallipoli ( 17 May 2015
Scroll down to the section that follows the sub-heading "Opportunity" for comments about the Simpson legend based on letters he wrote to his mother and sister.

Letters between John Simpson Kirkpatrick and his family, 1915 (
Simpson letterA collection of handwritten letters between John Simpson Kirkpatrick and his mother, Sarah Kirkpatrick, and his sister, Annie Kirkpatrick, written in 1915. (For more correspondence, scroll down for links to copies of letters from earlier years.)

Quotes from Simpson's letters (
Four selected quotes from letters by John Simpson Kirkpatrick.
The image of John Simpson Kirkpatrick at the right is portion of the Australian War Memorial's image A02847 which shows members of the 3rd Australian Field Ambulance.

Should Simpson have been awarded the Victoria Cross?

John Simpson Kirkpatrick: Victoria Cross (
Summarises the issue relating to Simpson and the awarding of the Victoria Cross..

Gallipoli hero Simpson won't receive the VC (
1 Mar 2013
News story reporting in 2013 that a Defence tribunal had decided Simpson should not retrospectively receive the Victoria Cross.

British push for Victoria Cross for Gallipoli hero John Simpson Kirkpatrick (
26 Sep 2012
Simpson made Australia his home but a council from Simpson's English home town of South Shields is seeking to have him awarded a Victoria Cross by the British government..

Why wasn't Simpson decorated? (
(If the web page is unavailable, you can find the information in the archived pdf file:(If the web page is unavailable, you can find the information in the archived pdf file:
Anzac Day KitAnzac Day Kit[pdf, 3.9MB].))
Scroll about halfway down to the sub-heading "Scroll about halfway down to the sub-heading "Why wasn't Simpson decorated?" The notes point out that Simpson was decorated, but not with the Victoria Cross.
(Note that many links are not accessible as this material was produced for users of the Parliamentary Library.)

Simpson and the Victoria Cross: Australia's favourite hero (
Scroll down just over half way to "Jack was recommended for the Victoria Cross, officially, through his unit..." This section explains how Simpson came close to receiving the Victoria Cross. Further down is an Australian Government explanation of why Simpson has not been posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

John Simpson Kirkpatrick (
Scroll to just over half-way down to the section called "No decoration".


Is too much attention being paid to Simpson and his donkey?

WW1 legend of Simpson and his donkey a case of selective truths (
The story of Simpson has been exploited, according to the preface of Simpson and the Donkey: The Making of a Legend by Peter Cochrane.

Drop the donkey, urges Tasmania's governor [pdf] (
The late Tasmanian Governor, Peter Underwood, said in his Anzac Day speech for 2014: "We should spend less time studying Simpsonís donkey and more time looking at why we were fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan for so long" (pages 5-6).




100th anniversary of death of Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick ( 19 May 20155
Head of military history at the Australian War Memorial Ashley Elkins says Simpson was an ordinary working class man whose legend proved far bigger than Simpson himself was.Head of military history at the Australian War Memorial Ashley Elkins says Simpson was an ordinary working class man whose legend proved far bigger than Simpson himself was.

Simpson's statue in his home town, South Shields
(Photo: Rohan Thomson, SMH)

Classroom activities Investigating the Spirit of Anzac: Image and Reality (
Click on the link to the pdf (Acrobat) file (, from This downloadable worksheet includes Simpson and his Donkey activities and images.

Simpson and his Donkey - original copyright Frane LessacSimpson and his Donkey colouring sheet [pdf, 63K] (
Promotion for the book Simpson and his Donkey by Mark Greenwood, illustrated by
Frané Lessac.

Simpson and his Donkey Teacher Notes(

Provides a pdf file containing suggested classroom uses and activities relating to the illustrated children's book Simpson and his Donkey by Mark Greenwood.

Simpson and his Donkey (
"A Human Soldier." The story of Simpson and his Donkey, followed by questions for students to answer or discuss.

My Storybook of the Anzacs at Gallipoli 1915
[pdf file, 3MB] (
See page 32 for an activity to complete on Simpson and his Donkey. The following document contains the information source for use in completing the activity:
- Worksheets for My Story of Gallipoli 1915 [pdf file, 6.5MB] (
See the last page (page 64) for the information on Simpson and his Donkey.
These documents form part of the
Investigating Gallipoli collection..

● Our Simpson and his Donkey printable and interactive word searches
Simpson and his Donkey section of our colour-in activities page
Booklets to download  where some booklets contain Simpson and his Donkey activities   

Videos Simpson and his Donkey - YouTube (
The illustrated story of Simpson and his donkey (with the song And the band played Waltzing Matilda as background music).

Man and the Donkey (
British TV report on a play about John Simpson Kirkpatrick and his donkey, set in his home town of South Shields. The report, however, is usefully more a summary of Simpson's life than a report about the play. (The full title of the YouTube video is amusingly given as "Man and the Donkey, John Simpson Cook Patrick", presumably arising from the tendency of some English people to pronounce the word "cook" as "kirk".)

Anzac Heroes (
- John Simpson Kirkpatrick
     Short video. Click on John Simpson Kirkpatrick for the SECOND video listed, "The man with the donkey."
Songs Me Darlin' Boy  (
This song by singer/songwriter Lugh Damen is based on letters between John Simpson Kirkpatrick and his mother, Sarah Kirkpatrick. The lyrics [pdf] are available. For more information see our Modern Anzac Day music page.

John Simpson Kirkpatrick (YouTube) - sample only
This is a 1min19sec sample of a new song from Dogmatic Music ( specially written for use in schools. Watch and listen to the YouTube video free. The full 3min33sec version is available for purchase and download from

South Shields pays tribute to 'Man with the Donkey' (
This news report was not available on 8 Oct and 8 Nov 2019. If you still canot access it, try this archived version [pdf].

(Video in report not working 1 Apr 2019.)
Report of a song about John Simpson Kirkpatrick. See also Shadow on the Shore (YouTube)

Sculpture Simpson sculpture (Image: AWM)Simpson and his Donkey, 1915 (
Information about a sculpture of Simpson and his Donkey by Peter Corlett. (AWM Accession No. ART40993.)

Simpson and his Donkey (
Information about a South Australian statue of Simpson and his donkey by sculptor Robert Hannaford.
Can you help? Is this Simpson?

The photo at the right is presented as Simpson and his Donkey on many web pages, for example Five Months at Anzac: Joseph Lievesley Beeston. However, we seem to remember seeing a website a few years ago that identified a photograph that might have looked like this one and claimed the man in the photo is NOT Simpson.

Are you aware of that website or of information that suggests the man is not John Simpson Kirkpatrick? Or perhaps you can confirm that Simpson really is the man in this photo.

Please email us with any information:


John Simpson Kirkpatrick as a boy in England



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