'My Shout' as Stokes secures medal

26 June 2006
Daniel Ziffer and Jonathon King

Every Victoria Cross won for courage at Gallipoli is now in public hands.

Channel Seven head Kerry Stokes was revealed yesterday as the bidder who paid a record $1 million for the medal posthumously awarded to Captain Alfred Shout for leading a charge on Turkish trenches at Gallipoli in 1915.

The medal will be donated to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, joining eight other Gallipoli VCs and completing the collection.

Mr Stokes said the medals belonged in the war memorial. "I've never believed that anybody should collect or have proprietary interest over somebody else's valour," he said. "These particular awards are part of our history, they're part of who we are, and the only appropriate place they belong is in a national museum."

On August 9, 1915, during the Battle of Lone Pine, New Zealand-born Shout joined a captain in charging an enemy trench. While he threw bombs and the other man opened fire, they advanced in short "hops", building sandbag barricades on the way.

Shout, 33, killed eight enemy soldiers and had found a position for their final barricade when one of the three bombs he had lit blew up while he held it, blowing off one hand and shattering one side of his face and body. He died of his wounds and was later buried at sea.

Amateur World War 1 historian Chris Roberts of Gosford took seven years to track down Shout's medal to his grandson Graham Thomas. He persuaded him to sell it to the museum "because it was too important to stay in a private house".

The RSL, the AWM and the Prime Minister's office then worked to find possible benefactors. Mr Stokes came through, paying $1,214,500 for the VC and Shout's other medals, including a Military Cross won at Gallipoli and two Boer War medals.

This article can be found in the Age - Wednesday, 26 June 2006.

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