1st Battalion, 9 August 1915
‘As brave as ever wore the uniform of the King…’
Alfred Shout's citation
Captain Alfred John
1st Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF
9 August 1915, at Lone Pine Trenches, Gallipoli Peninsular
( Posthumous Award )
CITATION: For most conspicuous bravery at Lone Pine Trenches, in the Gallipoli Peninsular. On the morning of 9 August, 1915, with a 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.
( London Gazette 15 October 1915. )
By all accounts Captain Alfred Shout was a leader of men. He landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 and was soon in the thick of the fighting on Baby 700 and Walker’s Ridge to which latter place he led a group of stragglers on that day to support the line against brave Turkish counter-attacks. Like many of those involved in the landing, Shout was on his feet for over two days repelling the determined enemy attacks aimed at driving the Anzacs off Gallipoli. Although he was wounded several times, Shout carried on helping wounded men back from the firing line and he was seen to help over a dozen men in this way. One bullet struck his arm and rendered it useless. Still, Shout would not go back telling his men – ‘I am with you boys to the finish’. More wounds followed until finally he was carried off. For his actions during the Battle of the Landing Shout was awarded the Military Cross.
This kind of leadership was essential at Gallipoli. Fear of death, fear of wounds, fear of being maimed would have gripped any man with enough imagination. At times Shout’s very presence seemed to put heart into men. As one soldier wrote of him:
He never risked his life for no purpose, but just to see him walking calmly along the trenches in the thick of an attack, or stalking through the undergrowth as though there were no such thing as bullets, was enough to give a man good heart for fighting.
[Quoted in Stephen Snelling, VCs of the First World War: Gallipoli, 1995, p.161]
By the time of the Battle of Lone Pine, Shout had been promoted Captain. On the morning of 9 August, opposite the 1st Battalion’s positions, there was still a large party of the enemy in what was known as Sasse’s Sap. This trench had been captured on 6 August during the initial Australian charge into Lone Pine and named after Shout’s friend in the first battalion, Captain Cecil Sasse. Sasse now determined to clear the Turks out of this trench and set off accompanied by three men with sandbags. While Sasse shot at the Turks, killing more than a dozen of them, his men erected a new barricade. This accomplishment emboldened Sasse and in the afternoon he suggested to Shout that they try and recapture more of Sasse’s Sap. They gathered together a party of eight men with sandbags and bombs. Then, with Sasse and Shout in the lead – Sasse firing his rifle and Shout throwing bombs – they advanced down the trench. In this way, edging forward gradually, new barricades were erected and more sections of the trench were regained. Shout, according to Charles Bean was fighting with a ‘splendid gaiety’ when he lit three more bombs in preparation for a final dash forward. The third of these burst in his hand ‘shattering one side of his face and body’.
Shout was carried to the rear where he was even able to sit up and drink some tea. However, later on a hospital ship he died and was buried at sea off Gallipoli. Shout is one of that great company of the Australian dead on Gallipoli who have ‘no known grave’ but his name is on the wall of the Lone Pine Memorial among the other missing of the 1st Battalion. As is the practice with the listing of names on such memorials by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Shout is here given his rank and his name is followed by those most telling and most earned of letters, VC.
After Lone Pine, Shout’s commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Alfred Bennett wrote to his wife to tell her of his death. Calling Shout ‘as true a gentleman and as brave as ever wore the uniform of the King’, he described Shout’s great leadership qualities and those actions which had revealed the dead man’s undoubted courage. Bennett concluded by writing that he ‘hoped to see his (Shout’s) name honoured by enrolment in the band of heroes who have won the VC’. Shout’s name was so honoured and his citation for the award duly appeared in the London Gazette of 15 October 1915 along with the six other Australian VC recipients of Lone Pine.