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

Anonymous

A lovely story!

Reply

Anonymous

Thank you for what you did for us. We are very proud of you.

Reply

Anonymous

Alfred Shout was a brave man who did his very best to defend his country, dying in battle after his heroic act fighting the Turkish. Well deserved of the Victoria Cross.

Reply

m.macpherson

Thanks Alfred for your sacrifice.

Reply

Anonymous

How grateful I am that you paid the ultimate price for my freedom. You are a man of great honour. Thank you.

Reply

gordon and larra

Thank you for your ultimate sacrifice for the preservation of our freedom. Lest we forget.

Reply

colby

Your VC medal shows your inspirational courage. Your jokes will be remembered. Rest in peace.

Reply

Anonymous

Thank you for your service to our country.

Reply

Anonymous

Well done brave soldier, you died a hero.

Reply

Anonymous

Fair weather seas, my friend.

Reply

Jenna front

May his soul rest in peace.

Reply

Valda Keys

Lest We Forget.

Reply

Anonymous

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SACRIFICE.

Reply

lucy

War is a sad thing and it needs to stop.

Reply

bery

Thank you for everything.

Reply

jacob marcon

Thank you for your bravery.

Reply

Alex

Truly amazing!

Reply

Anonymous

Thank you for fighting for our country and freedom.

Reply

rhegan bourbon

You are mean. Was war depressing, sir?

Reply

sara

RIP knowing you have served your country at war. Lest we forget.

Reply

lathan

Thank you for going to war for me.

Reply

Anonymous

You were very brave soldiers.

Reply

jaxk meade

I always had faith in your battalion.

Reply

Felicity

Thank you for providing laughter in the face of adversity and helping wounded soldiers. We will remember you and your mates always.

Reply

Anonymous

I hope you can survive out there. I also hope you are making progress.

Reply

Anonymous

We gain from your loss. I pity all parents who lose a child.

Reply

nathan

Thank you for your service.

Reply

jeremy

You were a very brave soldier.

Reply

Ethan

Thank you for saving the country.

Reply

CDT BUSBY 509 L...

Thank you for your service to Australia. LEST I FORGET.

Reply

Declan

Great respect for your immense bravery and saving many men.

Reply

Anonymous

Thanks to your bravery many families have survived till today.

Reply

Anonymous

You were a hero.

Reply

Anonymous

I was deeply saddened by the account of your war experience but am eternally grateful for the sacrifice of all our diggers.

Reply

dylan

We will never forget you.

Reply

Greg Campbell

We knew about your brother Harvey, now we know of you. You survived, Harvey didn't. We will remember both of you and are proud of you. We will never forget. RIP.

Reply

Anonymous

THANK YOU. RIP.

Reply

Anonymous

Thank you Shout for serving your country. You showed great courage and bravery. I'm sure your family was devastated.

Reply

Gemma

Thank you for giving us our freedom today. The sacrifice you and all the other soldiers gave will never be forgotten. Rest in peace and LEST we forget.

Reply

Anonymous

THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH.

Reply

Anonymous

For your service and sacrifice, we are forever grateful. Our country is as it is because of our ANZACs. We are very lucky to have had such outstanding people before us. RIP.

Reply

hamster

You should not worry about making it to the end. I hope you are at peace now.

Reply

Leanne

How brave you were to fight for our freedom. Your commitment to the care of your men was outstanding. THANK YOU FOR YOUR COURAGE. A hero forever.

Reply

Anonymous

Dear Captain, You were very brave during the war. Thank you for fighting to keep Australia safe. I like how you always looked after your troops.

Reply

Anonymous

I read your story and of your great courage. You are indeed a true hero.

Reply

Chelsea

Your bravery will never be forgotten. THANK YOU.

Reply

Anonymous

Thank you for saving us, Captain Alfred Shout.

Reply

liv

Thank you for saving our country. Good job.

Reply

laura

You sound like a very brave soldier, with a lot of mateship.

Reply

Poppy

You are brave.

Reply

Pages

Add your voice