Honoured at last: War hero Teddy Sheean, 18, who saved the lives of 49 crewmates by gunning down enemy planes as Australian ship sank is awarded a Victoria Cross 78 years later
- War hero to be honoured seven decades after saving the lives of 49 crewmates
- Teddy Sheean strapped himself to anti-aircraft gun as ship was being attacked
- Witness testimony states Sheean continued to fire on planes as ship sank
- His heroic action cost him his life but saved almost 50 others
Australian war hero Teddy Sheean will be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross following an expert panel’s review.
Sheean died in 1942 when HMAS Armidale was sunk by Japanese bombers in the Timor Sea.
The 18-year-old strapped himself to an anti-aircraft gun and fired at enemy planes as the ship went down and is credited with saving the lives of 49 crewmates.
Australian War hero Teddy Sheean (pictured) will be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross 78 years after saving the lives of 49 crewmates when he strapped himself to an anti-aircraft gun and fired at enemy planes as his ship sunk
His nephew Gary Ivory has spent decades fighting for the World War II sailor to receive the highest military honour.
Mr Ivory shed tears of joy when he heard his uncle had finally been recommended for the Victoria Cross.
‘I am stoked to be here today, I’m just wanting to jump in the air,’ he told reporters in Hobart on Monday.
‘I just wish now that my mother was here to enjoy this with me, but I’m sure she is up there with Teddy.’
Prime Minister Scott Morrison established an independent panel earlier this year after Sheean was denied the prestigious award.
The panel found the Tasmanian was wronged and deserved the recognition.
‘There is compelling new evidence in support of higher recognition for Sheean,’ Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra.
‘Sheean was done a substantial injustice in consideration of his actions in the original decision-making period in 1942 to 1943.
An independent panel found Sheean (Dale Marsh’s painting of Teddy Sheean pictured) deserved the prestigious award after he was denied earlier this year
‘Sheean’s courageous sacrifice of his life to save his shipmates makes him eligible for the Victoria Cross for Australia and the highest level of recognition should be accorded in this exceptional case.’
Mr Morrison has contacted the Queen to recommend Sheean be given the Victoria Cross and is confident she will agree.
Former defence minister and Australian War Memorial director Brendan Nelson chaired the expert panel.
He wants people suffering through the coronavirus pandemic to take heart from Sheean’s story.
‘I would say to all Australians as we live through the most significant adversity in our lifetimes, approaching the 75th anniversary of the Second World War, let Teddy Sheean inspire us to be a people that are selfless, caring and brave,’ Dr Nelson said.
Tasmanian Veterans’ Affairs Minister Guy Barnett has for many years worked with Mr Ivory to advocate for the posthumous award.
Mr Morrison has contacted the Queen to recommend Sheean be given the Victoria Cross (pictured) and said he is confident she will agree
Mr Barnett said the recommendation was vindication for Sheean’s sacrifice, mateship and courage.
Federal Veterans’ Affairs Minister Darren Chester said he could not imagine a more worthy recipient.
‘After decades of debate, this is a Victoria Cross for the people,’ Mr Chester said.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese has for months called for Sheean to receive the award for gallantry.
‘This is a welcome change of heart from the government and it shouldn’t have required a review of the review to come to this determination,’ Mr Albanese told reporters in Sydney.