Alfred John Shout

Captain Alfred Shout in a World War One trench

Rank

Second Lieutenant

Roll title

1st Battalion

Convoy ship

HMAT Afric

A studio portrait of Shout taken shortly before his enlistment in the AIF, c. 1914.

Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial P02939.003

Here was a man – a born leader, with wonderful control. I first saw him when we lay behind a ridge with bullets cutting the leaves and twigs off the bushes just above our heads … A brave leader who sensed the position, he rushed us over the skyline into a better possie; gave fire orders, and passed on, unhurt. This was my first experience of individual courage – that stuff we call ‘guts’ – and I’ve never forgotten Shout.

Captain CK Millar, 2nd Battalion, 1936

Alfred John Shout was born to John and Agnes Shout (née McGovern) on 7 August 1881 in Wellington, New Zealand. His military career began at age 18 when, after migrating to South Africa, he signed up to fight in the Boer War. He enlisted on 17 February 1900 and joined the Border Horse. Within a year he was Mentioned in Despatches for courageous actions at Thabaksberg and promoted to sergeant. Shout was wounded on at least one occasion but served until 1902 (potentially through to the end of the war), earning both the Queen’s South Africa medal and King’s South Africa medal.

After the end of hostilities, Shout remained in South Africa and served in the Cape Field Artillery. In 1905 he married Rose Alice Howe in Cape Town. Soon after, their daughter, Florence Agnes Maud, was born and the family migrated to Sydney. Shout worked there as a carpenter until joining the 29th Infantry Regiment in 1907; he obtained a commission in June 1914. On 27 August 1914, he enlisted in the AIF and was appointed a second lieutenant with F Company, 1st Battalion.

Second Lieutenant Shout in Egypt, c. 1915. Accounts from those who knew him consistently refer to his courage in battle, but also to his enduring good nature and humour.

Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial P05402.001

The Afric departed in the First Convoy from Albany on 1 November 1914.

Courtesy of the Western Australian Museum MHK D1 144

Shout and the 1st Battalion embarked from Sydney on HMAT Afric on 18 October. Just under a week later they reached Albany, where they set sail with the First Convoy on 1 November. The Afric reached Port Said, Egypt, on 2 December, before disembarking the troops at Alexandria a week later. Shout and the 1st proceeded to Mena Camp, where they trained for several months. On 1 February 1915, Shout was promoted to lieutenant. 

Ships of the First Convoy at King George Sound, Albany, before their departure on 1 November 1914.

Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial P02085.002

Officers of the 1st Battalion at Mena Camp. Shout stands at the top right.

Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial P07973.005

Shout (far right) with two other officers outside Mena Camp in March 1915.

Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial C01998

Shout (top right) with fellow officers of the 1st Battalion at Mena Camp, March 1915.

Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial C02130

Troops landing at Anzac Cove on 25 April 1915.

Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial P00196.001

The 1st Battalion participated in the Gallipoli landing on 25 April 1915, reaching Anzac Cove by 8 am. Advancing beyond the shore, they were able to hold the left flank of Baby 700 for nearly the entire day, until an intense Ottoman attack forced them to withdraw at 4.30 pm. Shout, in charge of a small group guarding slopes at the left rear, held on until the end and was one of the last officers still surviving on the seaward side of Baby 700. He retreated to the shore across the feature later known as The Nek and encountered Lieutenant Colonel George Braund, Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion, who asked Shout to send a message to headquarters for reinforcements.

Shout later returned with advice to dig in, as two battalions were on their way. Though he was able to gather about 200 stray men from various battalions on his own, the other reinforcements never arrived. That night, Shout organised a post at Walker’s Ridge, and troops dug in as much as possible amid repeated Ottoman attacks. 

On 27 April, after two days of fierce, relentless fighting, Shout led a bold bayonet charge near Gaba Tepe.  He was soon wounded, but with almost all other officers in the area either killed or wounded, he remained in the field. A fellow soldier recounted:

He was the bravest of many brave men that revealed themselves that day. I saw him first on Tuesday morning after the landing. There were only two officers left, Lieutenants Shout and Harrison, and our position was desperate. The gallantry of both was remarkable, but Lieutenant Shout was a hero. Wounded himself several times, he kept picking up wounded men and carrying them out of the firing lines. I saw him carry fully a dozen men away. Then another bullet struck him in the arm, and it fell useless by his side. Still he would not go to the rear. ‘I am with you boys to the finish’, was the only reply he would make. We all thought, too, that it was to be a finish for us. The Turks were attacking us in thousands. We were not properly entrenched, and we were hopelessly outnumbered. A little later Lieutenant Shout was wounded again, and fell down. It was cruel to see him. He struggled and struggled until he got to his feet, refusing all entreaties to go to the rear. Then he staggered and fell, and tried to rise again. At last some men seized him and carried him away, still protesting.

After just four days of fighting on Gallipoli, the 1st Battalion had suffered 366 casualties. Shout was Mentioned in Despatches for his work in these initial days. For his actions on 27 April, in particular, he was awarded the Military Cross. The citation read (in part):

On 27th April, 1915, during operations near Gaba Tepe, for showing conspicuous courage and ability in organising and leading his men in a thick, bushy country, under very heavy fire. He frequently had to expose himself to locate the enemy, and led a bayonet charge at a critical moment.

Shout was again wounded in early May and spent a month in hospital before rejoining his unit. On 29 July he was promoted to captain. A week later, he and the 1st spearheaded the attack at Lone Pine. Beginning in the late afternoon on 6 August, within hours they were suffering heavy counter-attacking and bombing from the Ottomans. Vicious trench fighting continued for days. A unit war diary entry made at 5.30 am on 8 August read:

Enemy shelling, rifle fire and bombing continuous. Bombs are very severe and our stream of wounded is constant … Men extremely tired but determined to hold on.

Though relieved that evening by the 7th Battalion, the 1st returned early the following morning to the centre of the fighting. At 7.30 am they received an urgent message to recapture Sasse’s Sap, an area named after Captain Cecil Sasse when taken on 6 August. Driving the enemy back with grenades, Shout led the charge alongside Sasse, who was armed with a rifle. Aided by three other men barricading with sandbags, they cleared about 20 metres of trench and killed 20 Ottoman soldiers. That afternoon they staged another advance using the same method. After a successful push, Shout attempted to fortify their position by lighting several bombs at once. However, one exploded prematurely, taking off his hand and causing horrendous wounds to his face and body. He remained cheerful while carried to the rear, but on 11 August died of his wounds aboard the hospital ship Neuralia. Shout was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, becoming the most highly decorated Australian soldier on Gallipoli. His citation read (in part):

For most conspicuous bravery at Lone Pine trenches, in the Gallipoli Peninsula. On the morning of the 9th August, 1915, with a very small party, Captain Shout charged down trenches strongly occupied by the enemy, and personally threw four bombs among them, killing eight and routing the remainder. In the afternoon of the same day, from the position gained in the morning, he captured a further length of trench under similar conditions, and continued personally to bomb the enemy at close range under very heavy fire until he was severely wounded, losing his right hand and left eye. This most gallant officer has since succumbed to his injuries.

Troops at a sandbagged post at Anzac Cove. Shout is believed to be the figure on the left.

Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial A03301

Shout on Gallipoli in 1915, with a periscope rifle.

Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial A04045

The page from Shout’s service record indicating when he was wounded on Gallipoli on 27 April.

Courtesy of the National Archives of Australia: B2455, SHOUT ALFRED JOHN

Shout (centre), his wounded right arm in a sling, May 1915.

Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial P11610.002

1st Battalion troops near Jacob’s Trench at Lone Pine, 9 August 1915.

Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial A01005

The page from Shout’s service record indicating when he was wounded on Gallipoli on 27 April.

Courtesy of the National Archives of Australia: B2455, SHOUT ALFRED JOHN

The letter sent to Shout’s wife, Rose Alice, advising that her husband had been killed in action.

Courtesy of the National Archives of Australia: B2455, SHOUT ALFRED JOHN

The official report of Shout’s death forwarded to the War Office.

Courtesy of the National Archives of Australia: B2455, SHOUT ALFRED JOHN

The tablet honouring Shout that was unveiled at Darlington Town Hall in November 1915.

Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial H17824

On 20 November 1915 a tablet commemorating Shout was unveiled in Darlington Town Hall by the Governor-General, Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson. The following year his widow was presented with the Tivoli Theatre gold life pass given to all Victoria Cross recipients. Shout is honoured on the Lone Pine Memorial on Gallipoli.

References

Australian War Memorial, Australian Imperial Force unit war diaries, 1914-1918 War, AWM4 Subclass 23/18 - 1st Infantry Battalion

Australian War Memorial, First World War Embarkation Rolls – Alfred John Shout

Australian War Memorial, Honours and Awards – Alfred John Shout

Bean, CEW 1936, Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918. Vol. I: The Story of ANZAC from the outbreak of war to the end of the first phase of the Gallipoli Campaign, May 4, 1915, 5th edn, Angus and Robertson, Sydney

Bean, CEW 1939, Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918. Vol. II: The Story of ANZAC from 4 May, 1915, to the Evacuation of the Gallipoli Peninsula, 8th edn, Angus and Robertson, Sydney

National Archives of Australia: Australian Imperial Force, Base Records Office; B2455, Alfred John Shout’s First Australian Imperial Force personnel dossier, 1914-1920; SHOUT ALFRED JOHN, 1914-1920

The Tivoli Theatre gold life pass presented to Shout’s widow.

Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial REL35085

Kathy Pilkington

Thankyou for your bravery Alfred. Your efforts saved the lives of many, enabling them to return to their loved ones.

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Anonymous

Thank you for your bravery in saving others: your efforts saved many lives and enabled them to return to their loved ones.

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Anonymous

ANOTHER HERO

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jesse

Good job man ;]

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usha bhat

may your soul rest in peace

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Anonymous

gday grandad,very proud of you.
think of you often....god bless you

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becky

thankyou for fighting for austraila

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Anonymous

Avery courageous Captain decorated with the Victoria Cross your bravery in defending your country is very much admired thank you

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Jo Stacy

Thankyou - for all you were and al you did

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miriam

rest easy

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Anonymous

we owe you a huge debt of gratitude

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denny

thankyou. lest we forget xx

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derrick

lest we forget

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Anonymous

you're bravery and courage has meant we can live freely. thank you

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Anonymous

incredible work well done

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linda

THANK YOU TO ALL OF THOSE WHO LOST THEIR LIVES FOR OUR BENEFIT

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Julie

Thank you for letting me experience your journey. No one will ever know the true experiences you all endured. REST IN PEACE

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kaye

his family shoulld be very proud of him .

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Annette Lombardini

THANK YOU XX

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charlie and kent

So brave to give your life to help your country. thank you a million times.

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lucy bonnin

i am so amazed at how brave you were during the war. you always stayed cheerful. thankyou. LEST WE FORGET!

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Anonymous

you are a hero to us all.we are so grateful for everything you did in the war. LEST WE FORGET

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Anonymous

hello captain,

We have learnt very much about your time as captain and we're very grateful that you served in the war.

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aurelia, 6

thank you for going to war and for being so brave.

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Anonymous

your story your suffering and bravery will remain in history for all time rest soldier you have done beyond the call of duty.god bless

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Anonymous

very proud of you grandad forever in our hearts

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Jack Mackintosh

THANK YOU FOR YOUR EFFORTS.

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Private Rachael...

RIP

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Anonymous

you are a true blue aussie [and kiwi] mate. good work and rest in peace.

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Anonymous

I WISH YOU COULD COMEBACK BECAUSE YOU SEEM LIKE A NICE PERSON

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Anonymous

thank you 30 october 2014

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elle broere

thank you for your sacrifice for the freedom of our coutry god bless you boys

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Anonymous

That was so interesting.less we forget.

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jan van Stekele...

FIRST DAY OF SHARINNNG THIS EXPERIENCE IN THE NEW ANZAC MUSEUM WHERE WE WILL REMEMBER YOUFOREVER AND BE FOREVER GRATEFUL
JAN

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Anonymous

we will remember you

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Anonymous

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SACRIFICE

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