Seventy-eight years after his exploits in World War II, the common seaman Edward’ Teddy ‘Sheean has become the first Navy crew member to receive Australia’s highest military award, the Victoria Cross.
At a furnishing ceremony in Canberra on Tuesday, the common seaman Sheean was honored for his « remarkable bravery, sacrifice and importance of his actions to modern Australia ». .
In December 1942, the 18-year-old defied orders to abandon the rapidly sinking HMAS Armidale off the coast of East Timor, which was heavily attacked by Japanese planes, and instead buckled onto the ship’s anti-aircraft cannon and shot at enemy planes until he disappeared under the waves.
« A fast sinking ship . . . the chance of survival is real, but scorned in an instant by his decision to return to his weapon to try to save his companions, « he said.
« At that moment, Teddy Sheean exemplified the qualities that the first Anzacs left us – camaraderie, perseverance, courage and willingness to make sacrifices. «
Prior to the ceremony, Vice Admiral in Chief of the Navy Michael Noonan said the Tasmanian seaman’s efforts saved the lives of the ship’s 49 crew members, damaged two enemy planes and forced them to retreat.
« He gave his life so that those who remained on the surface might struggle to survive. Teddy didn’t choose a victim to win a war, he did it to save his friends, « he said.
Vice Admiral Noonan said Sheeans were « proud and tall the shoulders that our young Navy stood on in our first major conflict, and his shoulders that our modern Navy now stands ». .
« His actions, courage and valor on that day in December 1942, which lasted only a few minutes, live on in our national psyche as legendary stuff. «
Before the ceremony, Mr. Ivory, who led the recognition campaign, said he was always determined to « never give up ». .
« Top of the world, mate, it took a long time, but believe me, the feeling I have today was all worth it, » he said.
« Every time we got bad news, I would look at the painting that was on the war memorial that inspired me.
Victor ‘Ray’ Leonard, the last surviving Armidale crew member who was 19 when he served alongside Sheean, remembered the surviving sailors talking about Teddy’s actions as they swam to safety.
« I silently thanked him as I swam as fast as I could . . . then I looked around and saw the last foot or two of Armidale disappear beneath the waves, « he said.
« From the beginning, he showed exceptional mental and physical strength for an 18 year old man. «
Sheean’s family, historians, and Tasmanian politicians have waged a decades-long campaign just to see the recognition of what has become one of the state’s most iconic war stories.
Born in 1923 in the Latrobe area of northwest Tasmania. Recognition of his actions came first on the spot, with statues, a memorial walk, and even a weekly toast in the pub.
A 2013 investigation found Sheean’s actions « did not meet the particularly high standard required to recommend a Victoria Cross, » and the UK Department of Defense declined to accept him for the 2017 award To consider.
The Federal Defense Honors and Awards Tribunal held hearings nationwide as part of a second investigation in 2019 that unanimously recommended that the government receive a Victoria Cross.
Secretary of Defense Linda Reynolds and Prime Minister Scott Morrison rejected the tribunal’s recommendation and aroused the ire of many, including Tasmanian independent cross-bench Senator Jacqui Lambie.
In June of this year, Mr. Morrison created a second panel of experts, led by former head of the Australian War Memorial Brendan Nelson, to re-examine the case for the Victoria Cross.
The panel also recommended Sheean receive the honor – a decision the government accepted and the Queen approved in August.
« Although Teddy Sheean’s bravery has always been known by name, we all know that honor was not easy, » he said.
« And it is to the credit of his family and his supporters that they have lived the HMAS Sheean motto: ‘Fight on’.
Although the road has been long and full of setbacks, Dr. Leonard that Sheean always had a knack for making himself heard.
« During a silence a voice would rise stronger than any other that heard Teddy, » he said.
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Teddy Sheean, Victoria Cross for Australia, Royal Australian Navy, World War II, Australia
World news – AU – The hero of World War II, Teddy Sheean, awarded Victoria Cross 78 years after the Death in battle
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