To mark Anzac Day 2016, the State Records Office of Western Australian (SRO) has digitised and placed online the recently discovered last Will and Testament of famed Anzac John Simpson Kirkpatrick.
Revealing the discovery today, Culture and the Arts Minister John Day said Simpson's Will was among more than 3,600 wills of Western Australian Great War military personnel recently located in the State archives and now listed on the SRO website.
John Simpson, also surnamed Kirkpatrick, landed at Anzac Cove on April 25, 1915. As a member of the field ambulance at Gallipoli, he transported wounded soldiers by donkey from the front line under heavy fire.
"Finding these wills is important not only for our State's historic record, it will help descendants unlock some of the mysteries of their forebears who perished on the battlefields of World War I," Mr Day said.
"From 1914-18, the number of wills processed by the Western Australian Supreme Court tripled and SRO archivists have long suspected that many of these files hold the wills of soldiers killed in the Great War. Thanks to their sleuthing, families now have access to a precious resource."
Simpson was killed by machine gun fire on May 19, 1915, aged 22, and the tale of 'Simpson and his donkey' came to symbolise the Anzac spirit.
"John Simpson's Will, dated April 6, 1915, is handwritten on a small piece of notepaper and shows he left everything to his mother in South Shields in northern England," the Minister said.
"The probate file reveals his personal estate was £37.13s, made up of money in a savings bank account and outstanding military pay, today equivalent to about $4,500."
Mr Day said there was a growing demand for the digitisation of archives held by the SRO, with a new service now available, where entire files and other relevant archives could be digitised for a fee.
"This will significantly enhance the provision of online access to the archives in the longer term," he said.
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