Farewell Simpson’s Donkey – hello Henderson’s Donkey
On a cold, windy and wet day yesterday, together with my good mate Chris, I was deeply privileged to visit and pay my respects at the grave of ‘John Simpson Kirkpatrick’ on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey.
As many of you will know, my rowing boat ‘Simpson’s Donkey’ was named after Kirkpatrick. I drew inspiration between my humble little rowing boat even though she moved so slowly, was our lifeline to safety for over 100 days and nights at sea in the last two years. Just like Simpson and his humble little donkey were lifelines for the injured soldiers they together saved in Gallipoli. In the photograph above, the flag I am holding is my boats flag from Simpson’s Donkey which we carried at sea.
‘Simpson’s Donkey’ is now up for sale and is waiting in London for her next owner while last week we started work on building my brand new boat ‘Henderson’s Donkey’. ‘Henderson’s Donkey’ is based off a bespoke design I have been working for six months together with naval architect Phil Morison from the UK. She is designed specifically for rough and adverse weather routes, she is completely human powered and can carry me at sea for up to 80 days. She is named after ‘Richard Alexander Henderson’, who like Simpson was a medic in the Gallipoli campaign but Henderson was from New Zealand. (Simpson was English and fought with the Australian medical corps). Henderson survived the Gallipoli campaign but is much less well-known than Simpson.
I leave you with the words of The Turkish commander of the Gallipoli campaign ‘Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’. He is held in enormously high regard in Turkey and his dignity and grace shine through in this beautiful message to the Allied soldiers who invaded his homeland during the Gallipoli campaign:
“Those heroes that shed their blood
And lost their lives
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country
Therefore Rest In Peace
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
Here in this country of ours
You, the mothers….
Who sent your sons from far away countries
Wipe away your tears;
Your sons are now lying in our bosom,
And having lost their lives on this land
Have become our sons as well
– Ataturk 1934
Lest we forget,