Kandos and Rylstone History P.11
Animals in the War
Presentation to Kandos High School Year 9 students by Ron Roberts in 2000
Simpson and his Donkey
From: ANZAC: something to be proud of by Nan Bosler
Copy of the original painting
by Horace Millichamp Moore-Jones
Simpson and his donkey became a legend as the ANZACS struggled on the Gallipoli Peninsula.
Pte. John Simpson Kirkpatrick, 3rd Australian Field Ambulance, found an abandoned donkey, and called him Duffy. Simpson quickly trained the amiable animal to work with him.
Duffy was able to do the work of three stretcher-bearers, bringing the badly wounded soldiers down the daunting cliff to the casualty rest on the beach. Together, Simpson and Duffy rescued the wounded troops, making hundreds of trips up and down the cliff.
But came the time when Simpson himself was killed, Duffy could not rescue him. The donkey was found standing quietly by his master's side, watching over his body.
Pte Dick Henderson, New Zealand 1st Field Ambulance, took Duffy, renamed him Murphy, and continued rescuing the wounded for another 6 weeks. Then, for no explained reason, the order came that the donkey was no longer to be used to carry the wounded. Duffy was safely removed from the area.
Two Boys by NX15943
From Khaki and Green, Published for The Australian Military Forces, 1943
It's a long time now but the time doesn't matter. I'll always remember them clearly, just as I do now, just as I saw them that warm July night - a couple of kids and their mules. What they did, and their quiet way of doing it makes me proud to have known them that night.
They often used to pass behind our O-pip, going up to the infantry lines on the forward slopes of the ridge. We'd hear the mules stumbling and clattering down the wadi and then they'd come round the overhang of rock, climbing the rough path, the hotboxes swaying on each side of the mules. They'd grin and say "Hi" and go on up over the ridge out of sight. Neither of them looked more than eighteen.
One evening they were late arriving. We wondered what had happened to them. ..The coast road...had been shelled pretty hard all day... Then just on dusk we heard the mules and it was funny the queer relief we felt to hear those hoofs on the rocks... The mules had ammo. boxes strapped to their saddles this time and the rear mule was limping.
They pulled up opposite us.
"Thought you'd been moved to another run," we said.
"We had to wait for this ammo. They can't get it over to the flank by the usual way. It's pretty bloody over there are present."...
One of them was examining the hoof of the lame mule. He looked up.
"I can't take this bloke any farther. He's done."...
The taller of the two kids stood up. He looked up at the ridge for a moment. Standing above us he looked long and thin and very young.
Then he said, "I'll go on, Gerry." His voice was very calm and matter of fact. "I'll come back and take your load up later."
"Like hell. You'll come back but I'm taking the next load up."
The tall one grinned. "OK So-long fellas."
He took the lead-rope of the mule and went up the path. There was a momentary glow in the sky behind the ridge and for just so long as was needed to make it a memory he was a silhouette against it, black shapes of a quiet brave boy and his mule against the glow of death, and then he was gone.
The kid who stayed with us talked a lot... After a while the kid started to talk less. Sometimes he would break off and sit, listening, looking up towards the ridge. He was getting restless.
"Maybe they've kept him up there," I said.
He shook his head. "They wouldn't do that. They badly want this other ammo."
We sat there a while longer and then he stood up.
"I'll go on, I think. It's tough on the mule here but he'll just have to walk on three feet."
It was no use saying anything. He was worried, you could see that. And the only way to get him over it was to let him go and find out for himself.
He went up the path. The shelling was still going on and I felt a bit sick thinking about that kid and his mule making their way through it. I went up to do my shift on the post.
We didn't hear them come back again during the night...I found myself listening for them all the time I was doing my shift, and once, when I had been relieved and was just dropping off to sleep I sat up suddenly, thinking I had heard the mules' hoofs on the rocks.
The sun had been up some hours and I was sitting drinking tea when I heard the sound I'd been waiting for. I turned my head quickly. The short kid, the one who'd gone up last, was coming down leading the mule, which was very lame now.
I threw out the tea in my mug and filled it again and stood up. He came down and I held out the mug. He took it without a word and drank. His face looked as if the skin were stretched tight over the bones and his eyes were strained and tired.
"What happened?" I asked.
His voice was tight and dead. "I don't know. I found his mule going up - it was split wide open. He - he just wasn't there."
There are times when you say a lot more by not saying anything. This was one of them.
"I had another look coming down this morning. All I found was his hat."
I looked. There was a steel helmet hanging by its strap to the gear on the mule's back. It had a hole big as my fist right through it and there was blood on the strap.
"I'm sorry Gerry." The words seemed so inadequate.
He shook his head as if he were shaking water out of his eyes. He handed me back the mug.
"I think I'll be going. Thanks for the tea."
He went down the wadi. His head was hanging and maybe he was crying. I didn't feel so good inside myself.
A Light Horse Cavalry Soldier
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