The ANZAC Commemorative Medallion a bronze commemorarative medallion was instituted in 1967 for award to Australian and New Zealand personnel who participated in the Gallipoli campaign in 1915. The obverse design is circular, surmounted by St. Edward’s Crown. The main design on the obverse of the medallion depicts Simpson and his donkey carrying a wounded soldier, an iconic image of the ANZAC experience at Gallipoli. Below the main design is a wreath of gum leaves (Australian Eucalyptus), below which is a scroll bearing the word “ANZAC.”
The circular portion of the reverse has a map of Australia and New Zealand with the Southern Cross. Beneath which is a wreath of fern leaves (representing New Zealand) and a blank scroll allowing for the inclusion of the recipient’s name. The medallion measures 76mm x 50mm, and is engraved on the reverse with the recipient’s initials and surname only. Because of insufficient space on the scroll, the rank and number had to be omitted.The reverse shows a map in relief of Australia and New Zealand superimposed by the Southern Cross. The lower half is bordered by New Zealand fern leaves.
The name and initials of the recipient is hand-engraved on the reverse. The medallion was originally issued in a presentation box. Surviving members were also issued with a lapel badge in the form of a small replica of the medallion to recognise their Gallipoli service. This badge is not issued to other applicants.
The medallion itself is not designed to be worn, however, those personnel who were still alive when the medallion was issued also received a lapel badge sized version of the full medallion, numbered on the reverse with the individual’s First World War service number. Those who claimed the award on behalf of a deceased relative received only the medallion. The medallion is sometimes referred to as the ‘Gallipoli’ medallion.
A word on Simpson and his donkey. Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick (born 6 July 1892, died 19 May 1915), better known as ‘Simpson’ or ‘the man with the donkey’, was assigned to the 3rd Field Ambulance, Australian Army Medical Corps. He was among the covering force which landed on Gallipoli at dawn on 25 April 1915. At Gallipoli he used a donkey (named ‘Abdul’, ‘Murphy’ or ‘Duffy’) to carry wounded soldiers to the dressing station and gained a reputation for being undaunted by enemy fire.
On 19 May 1915 he was killed, and though he was mentioned in orders of the day and despatches, he received no bravery award. The myth-making began almost immediately after his death, and he soon became one of the best-known images of the ANZAC experience. The task of evacuating wounded by donkey was then continued by a Kiwi, Private Richard (Dick) Alexander Henderson.