Military History

The Highest Honour #42 | Alfred Shout | Ray Simpson | Bruce Kingsbury

By The Cove October 31, 2021


Captain Alfred John Shout VC, MC (1882 - 1915, 33 yo)

John Shout was born on 07 August 1882 in Wellington, New Zealand. At the completion of schooling he became a carpenter and in 1900 joined the New Zealand contingent to the South African War. In 1905 he and his family moved to Australia settling in Darlington, New South Wales, where he joined the 29th Infantry Regiment and was commissioned on 16 June 1914.

On 27 August 1914 he joined the Australian Imperial Force where he was posted to the 1st Battalion as a Second Lieutenant and on 01 February 1915 was promoted to Lieutenant whilst the unit was in Egypt. The 1st Battalion landed at Gallipoli early on 25 April and by 30 April 1915 it had lost 366 officers and men. Shout was in the thick of the fighting. On 27 April 1915 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 05 May 1915. He was wounded on 27 April 1915 and again on 11 May 1915. On 29 July 1915 was promoted to Captain.

Still on the Gallipoli Peninsula, the Australians attacked at Lone Pine on 06 August 1915. Three days of bitter, savage fighting ensued, during which Shout became one of seven Australians to be awarded the Victoria Cross. During the morning of 09 August he charged down enemy-held trenches and, using bombs, killed eight Turks and routed others. That afternoon, he and another Captain joined forces to clear a part of 'Sasse's sap' of enemy, Shout again using bombs and Captain Sasse using 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 Victoria Cross was gazetted on 15 October 1915.

Warrant Officer Class Two Rayene Stewart Simpson VC, DCM (1926 - 1978, 52yo)

Ray Simpson was born on 16 February 1926 at Redfern, New South Wales. After schooling, Simpson worked as a labourer and on 15 March 1944 enlisted into the Australian Imperial Force.

He served in Morotai, and at Tarakan, Borneo and Rabaul, New Guinea, and was demobilised on 20 January 1947. After taking various jobs, he joined the Australian Regular Army in January 1951. Five months later he was sent to Korea as a reinforcement for the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment where he was promoted to temporary Sergeant. Returning to Australia in April 1954, he served with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, in Malaya (1955-57), then with the 1st Special Air Service Company, near Perth. In July 1962, as he promoted to Warrant Officer Class Two, he flew to Saigon for duty with the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV).

In 1964 Simpson departed Australia for his second AATTV tour. Part of his mission was to accompany South Vietnamese patrols in the country's north-west. On 16 September 1964 his patrol was ambushed by soldiers of the People's Liberation Armed Forces (Viet Cong). Although severely wounded in the right leg, he rallied his men and led them in repelling repeated assaults until help arrived. For this action he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

After his second tour to Vietnam he decided to leave the Army, but in May 1967 again enlisted and was again reappointed to the AATTV. On 06 May 1969 Simpson commanded a Montagnard company during an operation near the Laos-Cambodia border. When the leading platoon came under heavy fire, he led the remainder of the company to its assistance. He dashed forward, reached a fellow-Australian adviser who had been wounded, and carried him to safety. Having tried unsuccessfully to subdue the enemy position with grenades, he covered the withdrawal of his company while still carrying his wounded colleague. In further fighting on 11 May 1916, he organised the rescue of wounded men trapped by enemy fire, placing himself between them and the enemy until the withdrawal was completed. For his bravery in both actions he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

Simpson's character was complex. At times he was diffident, at others direct and blunt. He was tough, fit and dependable, but also rude, mischievous and exasperating. A proud, moral and compassionate man who was devoted to his wife, he was completely free of pretension and had simple material needs. He was well read in tactics and military history, as indicated by his infantry skills. His colourful language was legendary.

Simpson discharged from the Army on 04 May 1970 and died of cancer on 18 October 1978.

Private Bruce Steel Kingsbury VC (1918 - 1942, 24yo)

Bruce Kingsbury was born on 08 January 1918 in Melbourne. At the completion of schooling he worked on the land and at his father's real estate business. He enlisted into the Australian Imperial Force on 16 May 1940 and was posted to the 2nd/2nd Pioneer Battalion before obtaining a transfer to the 2nd/14th Battalion. 

On 08 June 1941 the unit took part in the invasion of Syria. In August 1942 the unit was sent to Papua to halt the Japanese on the Kokoda Track. At Isurava on 27 and 28 August 1942, the Japanese, with superior numbers, repeatedly attacked the battalion's positions. On the 29 Aug 1942 they broke through the right flank, threatening the Australians' headquarters. It was essential to regain lost ground immediately. Kingsbury's Platoon had suffered heavy losses, but its survivors volunteered to join in a counter-attack. On his own initiative Kingsbury rushed forward with a Bren gun, shooting from the hip against horrific enemy machine-gun fire and inflicting many casualties. He waited for his comrades to catch up, but, before they did, he moved ahead again, still firing, until he was killed by a sniper's bullet. For his actions Kingsbury was awarded the Victoria Cross.

Kingsbury was buried in Bomana war cemetery, Port Moresby.


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The Cove

The home of the Australian Profession of Arms.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.



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