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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Shout, Alfred John (1881–1915)

by Matthew Higgins

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

Alfred John Shout (1881-1915), by Charles Edwin Woodrow Bean, 1915

Alfred John Shout (1881-1915), by Charles Edwin Woodrow Bean, 1915

Australian War Memorial, G01028A

Alfred John Shout (1881-1915), soldier and carpenter, was born on 7 August 1881 in Wellington, New Zealand, son of London-born John Shout, cook, and his Irish wife Agnes, née McGovern. In 1900 he joined the New Zealand contingent to the South African War, serving as a sergeant in the Border Horse; he was wounded at least once. In 1903 Shout became a sergeant in the Cape Field Artillery.

With his wife and daughter Shout moved to Australia in 1905, settled at Darlington, Sydney, and worked as a carpenter and joiner. He joined the 29th Infantry Regiment (militia) in 1907 and obtained his commission on 16 June 1914. He was well-known in rifle-shooting circles.

On 27 August 1914 Shout joined the Australian Imperial Force and was appointed to the 1st Battalion as a second lieutenant. In Egypt on 1 February 1915 he was promoted lieutenant. The 1st Battalion landed at Gallipoli early on 25 April and suffered terribly—by 30 April it had lost 366 officers and men. Shout was in the thick of the fighting. On 27 April he showed conspicuous courage and ability in leading his men in the close, bushy country under very heavy Turkish fire, frequently exposing himself to locate the enemy. Further, he led a bayonet charge. For his actions he was awarded the Military Cross, and was mentioned in dispatches for his work between 25 April and 5 May. He was wounded on 27 April and again on 11 May. On 29 July he was promoted captain.

The A.I.F. attacked at Lone Pine on 6 August; three days of bitter, savage fighting ensued, during which Shout became one of seven Australians to be awarded the Victoria Cross there. During the morning of 9 August he charged down enemy-held trenches and, using bombs, killed eight Turks and routed others. That afternoon, he and Captain Sasse joined forces to clear a part of 'Sasse's sap' of enemy, Shout again using bombs and Sasse his rifle. Both officers were accompanied by men carrying sandbags which were used to make a barricade at each stage of the advance along the sap. Under heavy fire Shout and Sasse pushed the Turks back and then found a position for the last barricade; the enthusiastic Shout, who was laughing and cheering the men on, lit three bombs at once as a prelude to the final dash. The third burst in his hand, blowing it away and shattering one side of his face and body. Despite shocking injuries, he remained cheerful during his evacuation to the rear. He died on a hospital ship two days later and was buried at sea. His V.C. was gazetted on 15 October.

For his wife Rose Alice, Shout's death was made the more traumatic by army clerical errors. She was first informed he had died, then that he was wounded and returning to Australia, then, finally, that he had died of wounds. In August 1916 the Returned Soldiers' Association launched a fund-raising appeal to purchase a home for her and her 11-year-old daughter; housing assistance was also offered by the New South Wales government.

In November 1915 a memorial plaque commemorating Shout was unveiled at Darlington Town Hall by the governor-general, Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson. It is now displayed at Victoria Barracks Museum, Paddington.

Select Bibliography

  • C. E. W. Bean, The Story of Anzac (Syd, 1921, 1924)
  • B. V. Stacy et al, The History of the 1st Battalion A.I.F. (1914-1919) (Syd, 1931)
  • L. Wigmore (ed), They Dared Mightily (Canb, 1963), revised and condensed ed by J. Williams and A. Staunton (Canb, 1986)
  • R. D. Williams, World War I: British and Foreign Orders and Decorations to Australia 1915-1922 (Canb, 1983)
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 18 Oct, 17, 22 Nov 1915, 5, 9, 14 Sept 1916.

Citation details

Matthew Higgins, 'Shout, Alfred John (1881–1915)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 23 September 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

View the front pages for Volume 11

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2020

Alfred John Shout (1881-1915), by Charles Edwin Woodrow Bean, 1915

Alfred John Shout (1881-1915), by Charles Edwin Woodrow Bean, 1915

Australian War Memorial, G01028A