SPECIAL SONG: Robert Sheean's uncle, Teddy Sheean, inspired Lee Kernaghan's ballad Forever Eighteen.
SPECIAL SONG: Robert Sheean's uncle, Teddy Sheean, inspired Lee Kernaghan's ballad Forever Eighteen. Michael Nolan

A song about Sheean

ROBERT Sheean has a personal connection with the music of Lee Kernaghan.

The song Forever Eighteen was written about Robert's uncle Edward 'Teddy' Sheean.

"It's about my Uncle Ted going down with the ship and saving a bunch of his mates,” Mr Sheean said.

During World War Two, Teddy Sheean served on the HMAS Armidale when it was stuck by Japanese torpedos off the coast of East Timor.

The call was given to abandon ship but as the Australian seaman foundered in the water they came under fire from above.

"The Japanese attacked them and started strafing the guys in the water,” Mr Sheean said.

Robert's uncle ran to the Oerlikon gun and started firing at the enemy aircraft.

"He got a couple of kills before he was strafed on the Oerlikon gun,” Mr Sheean said.

"There was only a handful of survivors.”

In honour of Teddy's efforts, the Royal Australian Navy used his name for one of its Collins class submarines, the HMAS Sheean.

"This is the first time in our history they've named a naval vessel after an ordinary seaman and a couple of years ago they made the name perpetual,” Mr Sheean said.

"We've had a big push to get Uncle Teddy a Victoria Cross because there had never been one for the navy.”

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