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Remembering War Heroes This Anzac Day

South Tyneside Council has paid tribute to members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps to mark ANZAC Day (25th April).

ANZAC Day is a national day of remembrance commemorated in Australia and New Zealand to honour members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought in the battle of Gallipoli during the First World War.

To mark the occasion, Councillor Ed Malcolm, Chairman of South Tyneside's Armed Forces Forum, laid a wreath on behalf of the people of South Tyneside, at the foot of the John Simpson Kirkpatrick memorial statue in Ocean Road, South Shields.

The Australian and New Zealand flags were also flown from South Shields Town Hall.

South Shields-born John Simpson Kirkpatrick, known as 'The Man with the Donkey', risked his own life to rescue more than 300 wounded Australian and New Zealand soldiers from the frontline during the Gallipoli campaign of 1915. He carried the soldiers to safety using his trusted donkey until he was killed aged 22 by a sniper's bullet on 19 May 1915. A special memorial was unveiled at Littlehaven Promenade to mark the 100th anniversary of Kirkpatrick's death and the Gallipoli campaign.

The Mayor of South Tyneside, Councillor Norman Dick said: "Kirkpatrick was a son of South Shields. He is a local hero and we are proud to honour him and pay tribute to all those service personnel who lost their lives during the First World War.

"Despite these uncertain and difficult times, it is important we continue to recognise the contribution and sacrifices of all those who have served their country in times of conflict."

The legendary bravery of John Simpson Kirkpatrick has inspired generations of people and he is still highly regarded in Australia where his amazing story is told to school children.

Councillor Ed Malcolm said: "John Simpson Kirkpatrick is rightly a national hero in Australia for his bravery at Gallipoli. The Gallipoli campaign was one of the Allies' great military disasters in the First World War, but it also stands out for the incredible bravery of the Anzac troops, of whom Kirkpatrick was one.

"Anzac Day gives us all an opportunity to take a moment of quiet reflection in memory of John Simpson Kirkpatrick, his comrades and the sacrifices they made."

South Tyneside usually holds an annual service, attended by schoolchildren, veterans, dignitaries and serving members of the armed forces, to commemorate Anzac Day.

The service did not go ahead this year due to the coronavirus crisis and Government measures on social distancing but communities are encouraged to take a moment to reflect on the history and heritage of this much loved hero.

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