"I see by this morning’s paper that Australia is going to send another 100 thousand men. I am not surprised for men were just simply going mad out there to go to the war. There was many a man envied us first contingent men for being so lucky to get off to the war."

   Private John Simpson, 3rd Field Ambulance, 3 January 1915

In 1914 Englishman John Kirkpatrick was working around Australia. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force early, hoping to work his passage back home. He used his mother’s maiden name, “Simpson”, to enlist and expected to be heading for “the old country”. Instead, he found himself in Egypt.

Simpson landed on Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 as a stretcher-bearer with the 3rd Field Ambulance. He would be killed only a few weeks later.

A02827 Blackboy Hill training camp, Western Australia, 1914. Simpson is standing fourth from the left. A02827

Letters between Simpson and his family

"we have been in a terrible state here."

   Sarah Simpson, August 1914

Simpson had a very close relationship with his mother, Sarah Simpson, and sister, Annie. In the time leading up to his enlistment, his mother wrote several distressed letters expressing fear of the Germans invading Britain and “committing terrible atrocities” as they had been said to have done in Belgium.

"I would not have joined this contingent if I had known that they were not going to England."

   Private John Simpson, 3rd Field Ambulance, Christmas Day 1914

When Simpson first arrived in Cairo, he was interested to see the exotic sights, such as pyramids. However, the dust and heat soon wore away the shine of discovery. Simpson’s letters reveal he enlisted in order to get a working passage home, have a holiday and then fight the Germans on the Western Front.

"I see by this morning’s paper that Australia is going to send another 100 thousand men. I am not surprised for men were just simply going mad out there to go to the war. There was many a man envied us first contingent men for being so lucky to get off to the war."

   Private John Simpson, 3rd Field Ambulance, 3 January 1915