1 Mar 2013

No Victoria Cross for Australian Gallipoli hero

10:21 pm on 1 March 2013

Australian Gallipoli hero John Simpson and 12 other soldiers and sailors have missed out on being retrospectively awarded the Victoria Cross.

A famous painting and statues of the man and his donkey are based on a photograph of a New Zealand medic and schoolteacher Richard Henderson, who worked with Mr Simpson.

Mr Simpson and his donkey are famed for transporting wounded soldiers from the frontline at Gallipoli during World War I and their story has been retold in history books for almost a century.

His commanders at the time did not recommend he be awarded a Victoria Cross, the ABC reports.

Now, a two-year inquiry by a Defence tribunal has found that those superiors followed the correct process and that Mr Simpson will not be awarded a VC retrospectively.

The same applies for 12 other servicemen, including sailor Teddy Sheean who continued to fire at Japanese planes while wounded, and Captain Hector Waller, who went down with his ship in the Sunda Strait.

John Simpson landed at Anzac Cove on April 25, 1915, and with a donkey he found soon became known to the men fighting at Gallipoli. He continued his work until May 19 when he was killed in action by Turkish machine gun fire.

The tribunal found that Mr Simpson's initiative and bravery was representative of all other stretcher bearers of 3rd Field Ambulance.

It also found that he was appropriately honoured with a mention in despatches - an official report written by a superior officer and sent to high command in which is described the soldier's actions.

A VC is only awarded for the most conspicuous bravery or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy.