A Geordie (hails from Newcastle, England) friend of mine went to see the movie “The War Horse.”
He thought it a good movie. He told me it got bloody when the horse is tangled in barbed wire in the killing field, the area between the British and German trenches, the place they call No – Man’s – Land.
The soldier who goes first to set the horse free speaks a few lines and my friend says,
— Lass, (Geordie accent) why did Spielberg use that particular actor, a Sand Dancer from South Shields?
–A what from where? I asked.
–From South Shields, England. I knew the accent as soon as he spoke a few words.
–What’s a Sand Dancer?
–The people born in South Shields, some of whom are Arabs. Why that actor; a Sand Dancer? Was Spielberg thinking of The Man with the Donkey?
The Bloke with the Donk
John Simpson Kirkpatrick is a war hero in Australia. In the year 1910, at the age of 18, he deserted the English merchant navy at New South Wales and for the next three and a half years worked as steward, fireman and greaser on vessels around the Australian coast. In 1914 he joined the Australian Imperial Force and embarked for Egypt.
He landed on the famous beach at Gallipoli, Turkey with the job of carrying the wounded from the front line through gruesome Shrapnel Gully to medical care. He befriended a donkey he called “Duffy”, and the two worked together, day and night, through fierce Turkish fire, transporting John’s fallen comrades.
They were a vision of courage for the Australian and New Zealander soldiers and he became known as the bloke with the donk. The Indian troops called him Bahadur – the bravest of the brave.
On May 19, 1914, after 25 days of working through a rain of bullets and defying death, Private Simpson Kirkpatrick aged 23, the man from South Shields, was shot through the heart. His beloved Duffy died soon after him. Both are buried there on the beach.
He was remembered as witty and warm-hearted, a lover of all kinds of animals, and having faith in God. Others after him used donkeys to bring the wounded home, but The Man with the Donkey became a legend – the symbol of all that was pure, selfless and heroic on Gallipoli.