In 1916, soldiers of the 1st Scottish Rifles (later the Cameronians) were fighting German forces on the battlefield in the Somme, when Jimmy’s mother was fatally injured, just as she started to deliver her foal. The German side stopped firing and started to cheer as Jimmy was delivered by the ‘Jocks’ and taken back behind the British lines. From then on, he was adopted and looked after by the Cameronians who fed him tinned milk; when he became strong enough to do so, Jimmy was employed carrying ammunition, supplies and wounded soldiers. Jimmy was wounded 7 times by shellfire as he carried out his duties, and this dedication to duty earned him the distinction of being given the honorary rank of Sergeant, which was signified by having three stripes marked on his bridle. He was later honoured by the award of the prestigious Dickin Medal for bravery.
After the war Jimmy accompanied the Cameronians regiment to their base in Peterborough prior to their demobilisation. In 1920, having retired from active service Jimmy was bought at auction and looked after by Mrs Heath in Peterborough. Throughout the 1920s both Jimmy and Mrs Heath were instrumental in raising thousands of pounds for charity, mainly the RSPCA. A measure of their success is recalled by the fact that the Peterborough Citizen newspaper ran a weekly column detailing the money raised for charity.
In 1943 Jimmy died of natural causes and was buried in Central Park, Peterborough, where his monument still stands. After falling into disrepair the grave was restored in 2003, and Jimmy’s heroism continues to be recognised to this day when children lay flowers at his memorial on Remembrance Day. A mounted display at the Cameronians Museum in Hamilton, Scotland assures Jimmy’s place in history is not forgotten.
At the Animals in War Memorial held in November each year, representatives from The Donkey Sanctuary will be laying a wreath to commemorate Jimmy and all donkeys and mules that gave their lives and continue to give their lives during conflicts.