Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Facing continual machine gun fire, Shout led the 1st Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force in a series of bayonet charges at the Turkish army in August 1915. One witness, Private Charles Huntley Thompson, said Shout’s actions were “the bravest thing I ever saw”.

Captain Alfred John Shout, pictured, was the most decorated soldier to have fought in the Australian forces at Gallipoli. Born in New Zealand, he fought in the Boer War and later migrated to Australia in 1905.

He had led from the front in the charge to capture sections of the Turkish trench at Lone Pine on August 11, 1915. Killed in the final dash of the day when fatally injured by a prematurely exploding grenade, he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for “conspicuous bravery” – one of only nine awarded to Australians who fought at Gallipoli.

Shout’s name resonated once again as the Victoria Cross, Military Cross and other service medals that he was awarded for valour was sold at Bonhams & Goodman in Sydney on July 24. The only Gallipoli VC left in private hands, (the other eight reside in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra) it was kept in Captain Shout’s family for nine decades, and was consigned to auction along with his other medals by his 67-year-old grandson.

The auctioneers had hoped to exhibit the VC in London, but the Australian authorities refused to sanction its leaving the country. Nevertheless, despite this signal to overseas buyers, the group of medals sold at a premium-inclusive Aus$1,214,500 (£491,567), which more than doubled the previous record of £235,250 paid at Spink in London in 2004 for the VC won by RAF airman, Norman C. Jackson, for his role in the Battle of Britain.

The buyer at Bonhams & Goodman was Australian media mogul Kerry Stokes, who, according to the Australian Returned Servicemen’s League, is planning to put the medal in the Australian War Memorial uniting it with the other eight Gallipoli VCs.

by Alex Capon