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Remember the Great War this May


South Tyneside will reflect on its Great War past as it celebrates Local History Month with a series of events across Borough libraries, starting this Friday (1 May).

As the country marks the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings of 1915, South Tyneside Libraries Service is giving people the opportunity to remember and commemorate South Shields-born war hero John Simpson Kirkpatrick with a range of talks and displays on Saturday 16th May, at Central Library, South Shields.

Kirkpatrick, better known as the Man with the Donkey, risked his own life to rescue around 300 wounded Australian and New Zealand soldiers from the frontline at Gallipoli using his trusted donkey. He was killed aged 22 by a sniper's bullet on May 19, but his legendary bravery continues to inspire people to this day.

The South Tyneside Remembers: John Simpson Kirkpatrick and Gallipoli 1915 event runs from 12noon to 4pm.

Families will be able to use the James Hoy Archive to discover their World War I relatives. There will also be an opportunity for people to meet authors James Mulholland and Kelso Hull, whose books give an insight into the heroics of John Simpson Kirkpatrick and the battle of Gallipoli - one of the greatest disasters of World War I. The books will also be available to buy.

Central Library Theatre is also hosting the following talks on the day:-

  • 12.30pm to 1.30pm - Peter Hoy will talk about the Royal Naval Division at Gallipoli
  • 2pm to 3pm - James Mulholland will present Jack the Shields Lad: John Simpson Kirkpatrick in South Shields.

Library visitors can also find out about life in South Tyneside and the North East during the Great War from a number of organisations. These include Beamish, the Time Bandits, Newcastle University, North East War Memorial Project, Tynemouth WWI Commemoration Project, Tyne and Wear Museums and Archives, Beyond the Western Front, The Customs House, South Shields Local History Group, Jarrow and Hebburn Local History Society and Hebburn Family History Group.

South Shields Local History Group is also holding an historical exhibition dedicated to John Simpson Kirkpatrick and Gallipoli on Friday 22 May and Saturday 23 May in the Old Town Hall, Market Place, South Shields.

Councillor Ed Malcolm, South Tyneside's Armed Forces Champion, said: "John Simpson Kirkpatrick was a son of South Shields and it's important that we remember his great courage and determination, particularly as we mark the 100th anniversary of his death on 19 May.

"His loyalty to his comrades is still held with the utmost respect across South Tyneside, especially in Australia where he is the nation's most significant hero of Gallipoli and his story continues to be told to schoolchildren.

"We would encourage people to come and pay tribute to Kirkpatrick and learn more about how he gained his legendary status for his extraordinary service with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps one hundred years ago."

Local people are also invited to discover what happened during the Zeppelin Raids of 1915 with displays set up at libraries across South Tyneside during May. There will also be an opportunity for visitors to research their World War I relatives at:

  • Primrose Library Friday 1 May 10am to 12 noon
  • Cleadon Park Library Wednesday 6 May 10am to 12 noon
  • East Boldon Library Friday 8 May 10am to 12noon
  • Whitburn Library Thursday 21 May 2pm to 4pm
  • Jarrow Library Friday 22 May 10am to 12noon
  • Boldon Lane Library Friday 29 May 10am to 12noon

The events are all free and everyone is welcome.

For further details of the Local History Month events at Borough libraries call (0191) 424 7000, visit or call in to your local library. Alternatively, follow libraries on social media at or

Caption: The John Simpson Kirkpatrick memorial in Ocean Road, South Shields.

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