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

Liz

Your story moved me all these years later.

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Anonymous

I think about his wife and children. Such courage and bravery wasted on the foolish enterprise of men during war.

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RHONDA MCCANDLESS

SO BRAVE. WE MUST KEEP THE ANZAC SPIRIT ALIVE.

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JEFF

Rest in peace.

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Anonymous

THANK YOU FOR YOUR GALLANT SACRIFICE.

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Anonymous

Such a high price paid by those who deserve so much more. On behalf of me and my family, you will never be forgotten. Thank you seems not enough.

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Jackie

Thank you for the ultimate sacrifice for your country.

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Segmon

We're thankful for you for serving the army.

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Anonymous

In remembrance of a great soldier. Lest we forget.

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Paul LO

Such a gallant act of bravery for your brothers in arms. RIP. God bless your soul. Your VC was truly well deserved.

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Anonymous

Thank you for your bravery and service. I will remember you, Captain.

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Anonymous

You were really brave. I salute and thank you. Lest we forget.

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anon

Your story inspires us all. RIP.

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tracy archer

Thank you for all you did.

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Anonymous

Bless you and thank you for your brave service.

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Anonymous

Thank you for your bravery and for giving us our lives today.

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Anonymous

Thank you for your ultimate sacrifice.

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Anonymous

You are a very brave man when it comes to war.

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Anonymous

YOUR SERVICE WILL BE REMEMBERED. THANK YOU. LEST WE FORGET.

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Anonymous

We will always honour your heroic sacrifice.

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Anonymous

We are in great debt to all our Anzacs.

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pat pirie

Very brave soldier who gave everything for his country. RIP.

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marina

My father was also a carpenter. I felt an immediate connection with you when I was given your card. God bless you for your bravery. Until meet in heaven.

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Ash

Thank you for your courage and bravery. LEST WE FORGET.

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Anonymous

Thank you for your enthusiasm, helping others when you were injured yourself.

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Anonymous

Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for your contribution to making Australia the lucky country! WE WILL REMEMBER.

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Anonymous

DEAR MR SHOUT, I have heard your story and think it is very fascinating.

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Amelia

To Shout, Thank you for your sacrifice. Bye.

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person

THANK you for doing all you could. RIP.

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Anonymous

So sorry for your loss.

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Emily Cochrane

Proud of your bravery.

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Anonymous

Rest in Peace, brave soldier.

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tasha

Captain Shout, your courage, humour and tremendous sacrifice will always be remembered. Thank you for mine and my family's freedom. Thank you.

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Nia

We will never forget.

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Anonymous

Great work sailing with the A19! It looked very big - I would've thought you would've died by sea sickness!

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mike

Thanks for your service.

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Anonymous

Bravery beyond question. We are all grateful.

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debra lunt

With heartfelt thanks - lest we forget.

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Anonymous

As a distant NZ relative, proud to be related to this native born NZer.

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Anonymous

Many wars, many men, many lost their lives. We THANK YOU. XXX

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Anonymous

An exceptional man. A brave and courageous soldier who cared deeply about the men under his command. Thank you for playing your part. You made a difference.

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someone :)

Thank you for your bravery and service.

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Anonymous

Thank you for your service.

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ANN

WHAT A BRAVE MAN!

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Anonymous

I read your story today. I cannot comprehend your bravery. Thank you for your service. Lest we forget.

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Anonymous

You appear to have been a brave man, serving your country and fellow soldiers proud. Thank you.

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Anonymous

Great leadership, honour and courage shown repeatedly in impossibly harrowing conditions. A soldier of great distinction.

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Anonymous

Thank you for our freedom.

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Chloe Tarvydas

To Shout, Thank you for helping the war.

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Anonymous

To Alfred Shout, Thank you so much for helping with the war. It is great what you did.

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