Alfred Shout

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Alfred John Shout
Alfred John Shout at Quinns Post.jpg
Alfred Shout at Quinn's Post, Gallipoli, 7 June 1915.
Born 8 August 1882
Wellington, New Zealand
Died 11 August 1915(1915-08-11) (aged 33)
Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey
Allegiance New Zealand
South Africa
Australia
Service/branch New Zealand Army
South African Army
Australian Army
Years of service 1900–1902
1903–1907
1907–1915
Rank Captain
Battles/wars

Second Boer War
First World War

Awards Victoria Cross
Military Cross
Mentioned in Despatches (2)

Alfred John Shout VC, MC (8 August 1882 – 11 August 1915) was a New Zealand-born Australian soldier and recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest decoration for gallantry "in the face of the enemy" awarded to members of the British and Commonwealth armed forces. In 1915, he was awarded the Military Cross during the landing at Anzac Cove in April and received the Victoria Cross posthumously for his actions during the Battle of Lone Pine in August. Shout was also Mentioned in Despatches, making him the most highly decorated soldier of the Australian Imperial Force during the Gallipoli Campaign.

Early life[edit]

Alfred John Shout was born in Wellington, New Zealand, on 8 August 1882.[note 1] He was the eldest of nine children to an English-born father, John Richard Shout, and Irish mother, Agnes Mary.[1][2] Information on Alfred Shout's early life is rather scant, and the details differ between sources. However, it is believed he was privately educated in his youth and,[3][4] around 1900, he joined a New Zealand Army contingent for service in the Second Boer War.[1][5][6] On arrival in South Africa, he enlisted in the newly raised Border Horse on 17 February 1900. The Border Horse was an irregular colonial force formed in eastern Cape Colony, and Shout was allotted to the unit's No. 1 Company with the service number 9216.[7][8] Shout served at Wittebergen, Transvaal and Cape Colony with the Border Horse and was twice wounded,[5] including once in the chest.[9] On 29 January 1901, Shout, then a lance corporal, was engaged in action with his unit at Thabaksberg. Throughout the battle, he "assisted greatly" in maintaining the position of his men, and at one stage ventured out under heavy rifle fire to retrieve a wounded man, bringing him back to a place of safety. As a result of his "great courage" in this action, Shout was Mentioned in Despatches.[5] He was promoted to sergeant on 7 May 1901,[10] and discharged from the Border Horse 16 days later.[8] He then joined the Stellenbosch District Mounted Troop and later saw service with the Cape Colonial Forces.[7][9] Having "served with distinction" during his time in South Africa, Shout discharged from service in 1902.[3]

Shout decided to remain in South Africa after his discharge and, in 1903, enlisted in the South African Army as a sergeant in Prince Alfred's Own Cape Field Artillery.[1][5][9] While in Cape Town, Shout married Rose Alice Howe, an Australian woman, in 1905; the couple had daughter Florence Agnes Maud on 11 June that year.[2][7] In 1907, the Shout family emigrated to Australia, settling in the Sydney suburb of Darlington. Here, Shout gained employment as a carpenter and joiner at Resch's Brewery.[5][9] He maintained his interest in the military, immediately joining the 29th Infantry Regiment of the Citizens Military Force (CMF) and becoming a regular visitor of the Randwick rifle range, where he gained a reputation as an excellent shot with a rifle.[1][5][9] A foundation member of the 29th Infantry Club, Shout was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the CMF on 16 June 1914.[1][5]

First World War[edit]

Following the outbreak of the First World War, Shout transferred to the newly raised Australian Imperial Force on 27 August 1914. He was posted to the 1st Battalion as a second lieutenant in F Company, commanded by Lieutenant Cecil Sasse. On 18 October, the 1st Battalion embarked for Egypt, with Shout boarding HMAT Afric at Sydney.[5][11] Following a brief stop at Albany, Western Australia, the troopship arrived at its destination on 2 December.[12] Shortly after arrival, the 1st Battalion was reorganised into a formation of four companies; Shout was allotted to D Company as a platoon commander.[5] The battalion spent the following four months training in the Egyptian desert,[13] during which time Shout was promoted lieutenant on 1 February 1915.[1][6]

Gallipoli[edit]

Landing at Anzac[edit]

As part of an endeavour to defeat Turkey and force a supply route through to Russia via the Bosporus and the Black Sea, the British War Council formulated an invasion plan of the Gallipoli Peninsula.[14][15] On 25 April 1915, the men of the 1st Australian Brigade—of which the 1st Battalion was part—landed ashore at Anzac Cove between 05:30 and 07:30 among the second and third waves of Australian troops.[16] The 1st Battalion was meant to be held in reserve, but the unit rapidly became engaged in battle.[17][18] Following a request for reinforcements, Shout moved up with one of the 1st Battalion's companies to the hill feature "Baby 700".[17][19] Arriving at the position around 11:00,[19] he led a party of men to hold the rear left flank of the hill as part of the Australians' rearguard action.[5][20] The Allied position on Baby 700 had become dire by that afternoon, which was compounded by the small number of available infantry in the area and the complete lack of artillery support, when the Turks launched an assault. By this stage, Shout and Lieutenant Leslie Morshead of the 2nd Battalion were the only two surviving officers in their sector of the line. At 16:30, the Turkish force broke through the defensive line and the Australians were forced to abandon their position on Baby 700. Shout was one of the last to evacuate, and withdrew down to the beach.[9][21] During his retreat, Shout encountered Lieutenant Colonel George Braund, commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion, on Walker's Ridge. Braund dispatched him to the beach with a message containing a request for reinforcements. On arrival, Shout was immediately tasked with leading 200 stray men to reinforce the thin defensive line near Braund's position.[22][23] Shout established a post at the base of the ridge as dusk began to set in, and his men started to dig in.[24]

... Lieutenant Shout was a hero. Wounded himself several times, he kept picking up wounded men and carrying them out of the firing line. 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 here with you boys to the finish", was the only reply he would make ... 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.

Soldier of the 1st Battalion on Shout's action at Walker's Ridge, 27 April 1915.[5]

By 27 April, Shout had been continually in action without rest since the landing. That morning, he was despatched to a sector of Walter's Ridge to replace a wounded officer.[5][25] At his new post, Shout and his men were subject to heavy rifle fire from Turkish soldiers located in the scrub just beyond the Australians' trench. He promptly set about reorganising his men and, having done so, ventured out to reconnoitre the exact position of the Turkish soldiers in order to accurately direct his men's rifle fire.[6][26] Despite being wounded early in the action, Shout refused to leave the frontline.[5][18] Later during the day, the Turks were closing in on the Australian trench and Shout led a bayonet change against their position.[6][26] He was later wounded a second time, with a bullet passing through his arm and rendering it useless, but still refused to leave. Soon after, he was wounded a third time and was evacuated for treatment. Throughout the battle, Shout had carried several wounded men out of the frontline.[3][5][18] Cited for his "conspicuous courage and ability" at Walker's Ridge, Shout was consequently awarded the Military Cross,[27] becoming the first member of his battalion to be honoured with the decoration.[28] The notification and accompanying citation for the medal was published in a supplement to the London Gazette on 3 July 1915.[27]

Shout's wounds proved not to be serious and he soon rejoined the 1st Battalion.[5] On 11 May, he was injured once again, suffering another bullet wound to his arm and was evacuated to the hospital ship Gascon; he rejoined his unit fifteen days later, having sufficiently recovered.[3] On 20 May, Shout was Mentioned in the Despatch of General Sir Ian Hamilton, General Officer Commanding Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, as a result of his efforts from the landing on 25 April up to 5 May.[1][29] He was promoted to captain on 29 July.[1][6]

Lone Pine[edit]

On 6 August 1915, an assault on the "impregnable" Turkish position at Lone Pine was launched by the men of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Battalions, 1st Australian Brigade, with the 1st Battalion in reserve.[30][31][32] The attack was orchestrated as one of a set of feints in order to draw Turkish attention and divert reinforcements from the British landings at Suvla Bay and thus the Allied offensive on Sari Bair. The Australian assault commenced in the late afternoon just before sunset, and within half an hour they had seized their objectives.[30][31] Despite the initial success, the Australian casualties had been heavy and the 1st Battalion was ordered forward in preparation for the expected Turkish counter-attack.[32] The battle subsequently descended into "bitter, savage fighting" over the following days,[1] predominantly in the form of "deadly bombing duels" with grenades.[32]

At 09:00 on 9 August, the 1st Battalion relieved the 3rd Battalion at Sasse's Sap on the Lone Pine frontline. However, as soon as the men of the 3rd Battalion were clear of the trenches, the Turks renewed their attack and were successful in seizing a significant proportion of Sasse's Sap.[6][33] In response, Shout and Captain Cecil Sasse gathered three men to carry sandbags in order to construct trench barricades and charged down the Sap. The two officers ran at the head of the party, with Sasse sniping at the Turkish soldiers with his rifle while Shout hurled bombs. The group advanced small stages at a time until they had recaptured approximately 20 metres (22 yd) of the line, at which point the trio carrying the sandbags constructed a barricade while Sasse continued to fire at the Turks. Sasse was credited with killing twelve Turkish soldiers during the action and Shout with eight, while forcing the remainder to flee.[34][35]

Sasse, "elated" by their achievement earlier that day,[33][34] went to Shout that afternoon and the pair agreed to attempt a repeat of the earlier operation. This time, the duo assembled a party of eight men to carry sandbags and extra bombs.[18][34] Having made a "sufficient reconnaissance" of the area, the previously erected barricade was shoved down and, side-by-side, Sasse and Shout ran forward.[33] The group advanced in much the same manner as before, moving in short stages and building a barricade each time they halted.[1][6] Shout was fighting with "splendid gaiety" throughout the assault,[33] "laughing and joking and cheering his men on".[34] As they progressed further, the two officers spotted a suitable location to raise their final barricade. Shout then simultaneously lit three bombs for the final run forward in an effort to prevent the Turkish soldiers from hindering the construction of the barricade. He successfully threw two of the grenades, and attempted to hurl the third when it burst as it was leaving his hand.[33][35] Shout was mortally wounded, the explosion having shattered his right hand and part of the left, destroying his left eye, cutting his face, and causing burns to his chest and leg.[34][36] Despite the severity of his injuries, Shout maintained consciousness and was dragged out of the firing line, where he remained cheerful, "drank tea and sent a message to his wife".[33][34]

Victoria Cross and legacy[edit]

Shout was evacuated from the Gallipoli Peninsula to the hospital ship Euralia shortly afterwards.[3][34] On 11 August 1915, he succumbed to his wounds and was buried at sea.[1] As a consequence of his actions during the Battle of Lone Pine, Shout was awarded the Victoria Cross, while Captain Cecil Sasse was decorated with the Distinguished Service Order.[34][35]

The announcement of Shout's Victoria Cross was promulgated in an issue of the London Gazette on 15 October 1915, reading:[36]

War Office, 15th October, 1915.

His Majesty The KING has been pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men: —

Captain Alfred John Shout, 1st Battalion, Australian Imperial Force.

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.

Considerable confusion reigned following Shout's death. On 15 August the Army sent a cable telling Rose Shout that her husband had been wounded a second time (she had already received notification of his 27 April wound). Initially, records showed Shout died on 11 August but they were then altered on 20 August showing him 'Not Dead' on Thermistocles returning to Australia. The press in Australia published news of his return, adding that he would arrive in Sydney mid-September.[citation needed]

Shortly after the war the citizens of Darlington commemorated the name of Alfred Shout on a memorial plaque. This plaque is now held at Victoria Barracks having been removed from Darlington.[citation needed]

Until 2006 Shout's medals, including his Victoria Cross, remained in the possession of his family—at the time, the only one of the nine VCs won by Australians at Gallipoli not in the collection of the Australian War Memorial. On 24 July 2006 the medals were auctioned with the VC fetching a record A$ 1.2 million, surpassing the previous record price for the VC of Norman Cyril Jackson. Shout's medals were bought by Kerry Stokes,[37] and donated to the Australian War Memorial.[citation needed]

Honours and awards[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ There is discrepancy among the sources regarding Shout's date of birth. Higgins 1988, in Shout's Australian Dictionary of Biography entry, states it to be 7 August 1881. Staunton 2005, p. 37 also gives 7 August, though lists the year to have been 1882. Shout's Australian Imperial Force service file, however, records it to be 8 August 1882, which is the date given in Arthur 2005, p. 677, Bean 1941a, p. 295, and Snelling 1995, p. 178. As the service record is an official government file and the majority of scholars record the date it gives, 8 August 1882 is the date used in this article.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Higgins, Matthew (1988). "Shout, Alfred John (1882 – 1915)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 27 November 2009. 
  2. ^ a b "Alfred John Shout". Cenotaph Database. Auckland Museum. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Shout, Alfred John". Records Search. National Archives of Australia. Retrieved 27 November 2009. 
  4. ^ "Captain Alfred John Shout". Victoria Cross. Birkenhead Returned Services Association. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Snelling 1995, pp. 178–179
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Staunton 2005, p. 37
  7. ^ a b c "Queen's South Africa Medal: Sergeant A. J. Shout, Border Horse". Collection. Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Stephen Skinner. "Nominal Roll of the Border Horse". British Medals. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f "Memorial pendant: Captain A. J. Shout". Collection. Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 15 June 2013. 
  10. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27311. p. 3114. 7 May 1901. Retrieved 27 November 2009.
  11. ^ "Alfred John Shout" (PDF). First World War Embarkation Roll. Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 2 December 2009. 
  12. ^ "1st Battalion". Australian military units. Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 2 December 2009. 
  13. ^ "1st Infantry Battalion (August 1914 – June 1915)" (PDF). First World War Unit Diaries. Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 21 December 2009. 
  14. ^ Dennis, Peter, Jeffrey Grey, Ewan Morris, Robin Prior and Jean Bou. "Gallipoli". The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History. Oxford Reference Online. Retrieved 29 June 2013. 
  15. ^ Arthur 2005, p. 218
  16. ^ Bean 1941a, p. 280
  17. ^ a b Carlyon 2002, p. 141
  18. ^ a b c d "Captain Alfred Shout". Gallipoli and the Anzacs. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved 21 December 2009. 
  19. ^ a b Bean 1941a, pp. 295–296
  20. ^ Bean 1941a, p. 304
  21. ^ Bean 1941a, pp. 314–316
  22. ^ Bean 1941a, p. 318
  23. ^ Carlyon 2002, pp. 168–169
  24. ^ Bean 1941a, p. 471
  25. ^ Bean 1941a, pp. 508–509
  26. ^ a b "Recommendation for Alfred John Shout to be awarded the Military Cross" (PDF). Recommendations: First World War. Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 30 January 2010. 
  27. ^ a b The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29215. p. 6541. 3 July 1915. Retrieved 30 January 2010.
  28. ^ Snelling 1995, p. 161
  29. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29251. p. 7668. 5 August 1915. Retrieved 30 January 2010.
  30. ^ a b Snelling 1995, p. 147
  31. ^ a b Staunton 2005, p. 23
  32. ^ a b c Perrett 2004, p. 196
  33. ^ a b c d e f Bean 1941b, pp. 564–565
  34. ^ a b c d e f g h Snelling 1995, pp. 163–164
  35. ^ a b c Perrett 2004, p. 198
  36. ^ a b The London Gazette: no. 29328. p. 10153. 15 October 1915. Retrieved 31 January 2010. (Victoria Cross)
  37. ^ "The Victoria Cross ... awarded to Captain Alfred Shout have been sold at auction". Iain Stewart, Victoria Cross.org. Retrieved 2008-04-09. 
  38. ^ REL35084.001 - Victoria Cross : Captain A J Shout, 1 Battalion, AIF, Australian War Memorial
  39. ^ REL35084.002 - Military Cross : Lieutenant A J Shout, 1 Battalion, AIF, Australian War Memorial
  40. ^ REL35084.003 - Queen's South Africa Medal : Sergeant A J Shout, Border Horse, Australian War Memorial
  41. ^ REL35084.004 - King's South Africa Medal : Sergeant A J Shout, Australian War Memorial
  42. ^ REL35084.005 - 1914-15 Star : 2nd Lieutenant A J Shout, 1 Battalion, AIF, Australian War Memorial
  43. ^ REL35084.006 - British War Medal 1914-20 : Captain A J Shout, 1 Battalion, AIF, Australian War Memorial
  44. ^ REL35084.007 - Victory Medal : Captain A J Shout, 1 Battalion, AIF, Australian War Memorial

Bibliography[edit]