Prime Minister recommends Teddy Sheean for the Victoria Cross

Teddy Sheean
Edward Teddy Sheean Strapped to the gun aboard HMAS Armidale (IMAGE: Australian War Memorial)

In 1942, during the last few years of World War II, Tasmania lost a true war hero, Teddy Sheean.

Edward “Teddy” Sheean, an ordinary seaman of the HMAS Armidale unit was onboard a ship called Armidale which was out on an operation along with two other vessels to undertake a resupply and evacuation mission. Unfortunately, the plan went wrong, and Armidale was ordered to return to Betano the following night.

Whilst waiting in enemy waters, the ship was hit by an airstrike. Two aircraft-launched torpedoes hit the ship causing it to rapidly sink.

Despite being wounded, Teddy Sheean refused to leave the ship but rather strapped himself in and began shooting the aircraft with his Oerlikon as the ship was sinking beneath him. Remarkably, Sheean shot down two planes and continued to keep shooting until the end whilst he was being dragged under the water.

Teddy Sheean was aged 18 and one of the 100 men out of 149 on board that died from the attack.

The Fight to Recognise Teddy Sheean

Despite Teddy Sheean’s heroic and courageous efforts, he was not awarded the Victoria Cross.

Scott Morrison asked Dr Nelson, a former director of the Australian War memorial to form a panel to revisit the Teddy Sheean case.

On Wednesday 10th August 2020, Scott Morrison announced the findings of the case and stated that he received the following information ‘that there is compelling new evidence in support of higher recognition for Teddy Sheean, that Sheean was done a substantial injustice in consideration of his actions in the original decision-making period in 1942-1943, and Sheean’s courageous sacrifice of his life to save his shipmates makes him eligible for the Victorian Cross for Australia and the highest level of recognition should be accorded in this exceptional case.’

Mr Morrison stated that he ‘accepted these findings of the panel and had written to governor general on the basis of the review’

Federal Tasmanian Members, Gavin Pearce MP and Bridget Archer MP, have welcomed the decision to recommend that World War II hero, Ordinary Seaman Edward ‘Teddy’ Sheean, to be posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. 

Federal Member for Braddon and 20-year veteran, Gavin Pearce MP, said the Victoria Cross is our nation’s preeminent award for valour and is sacred within the realm of Defence and Veterans. 

“I have always maintained my position that Ordinary Seaman Teddy Sheean’s actions deserved much higher recognition than Mentioned in Dispatches and this decision rightfully bestows appropriate recognition of his acts of gallantry.” 

“Throughout this process, it was vital that the sanctity and the dignity of the awarding of the Victoria Cross were maintained, as well as the good conduct and character of Ordinary Seaman Sheean. I believe that this rigorous examination has done that.” 

Federal Member for Bass Bridget Archer said the Tasmanian Federal Liberal Team has consistently and respectfully kept the issue above politics, working diligently behind the scenes to ensure the appropriate process took place. 

“This inquiry considered new information, not previously considered by the two previous reviews and provides the clarity necessary to make this recommendation unequivocally,” Mrs Archer said. 

“I especially acknowledge my colleague Gavin Pearce. As a veteran of more than 20 years distinguished service, Gavin was best-placed to inform our team on the sanctity of this award and that the integrity of the Victoria Cross was maintained throughout.” 

“I would also thank the Prime Minister for his willingness to meet with us and consider our views.” 

On the eve of the 75th Commemoration of the End of World War II, we remember all those who gave their lives in the defence of our nation, importantly those who have done so without formal recognition. 

‘We will remember them.’ 

We will remember them all.

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