Teddy Sheean now eligible for VC after expert panel decision

PRIME Minister Scott Morrison has recommended Ordinary Seaman Edward 'Teddy' Sheean for a Victoria Cross for his heroic works during World War II.

Tasmanian sailor Teddy Sheean saved the lives of some of his shipmates in 1942 after ignoring orders to abandon an Australian minesweeper which had come under heavy Japanese fire.

The 18-year-old was able to bring down one plane and damage two more before dying strapped to his weapon, on the HMAS Armidale.

The expert panel which has been in deliberation for several weeks has found Teddy Sheean does deserve the cross, after testing the regulations against his actions, and verifying the actual circumstances which have now turned myth into legend.

Prime Minster Scott Morrison announced today that a report issued by a recent Tribunal Review into the matter had found Sheean to be an eligible recipient for the Victoria Cross.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison with Brendan Nelson during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage
Prime Minister Scott Morrison with Brendan Nelson during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage

A previous attempt to recognise Sheean was heavily criticised as his actions were not seen to be worthy of a VC.

Mr Morrison said the report found "compelling new evidence in support for high recognition for Sheean".

"That Sheean was done a substantial injustice in consideration of his actions in the original decision making period in 1942 to 1943," he said.

The Prime Minister said he submitted the recommendation to the Governor General and the matter was now before Her Majesty the Queen.

"We will be hopeful for what will come back as a contented response from Her Majesty," he said.

"Any ambiguity that existed before, or that had been allowed to prevail by acting hastily, that could have undermined the recommendation that we have made.

"So I can now make this recommendation confidently on the basis of the process that we have followed."

The independent expert panel was convened by Mr Morrison after the Federal Government in May knocked back a recommendation by the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal to posthumously award Sheean the honour.

Panel member Dr Brendan Nelson said that new evidence from Japan has proven Sheean's actions, and has been parsed through the standards for a Victoria Cross.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison with Brendan Nelson during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage
Prime Minister Scott Morrison with Brendan Nelson during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage

"(The) expert panel has found new evidence and that is for the first time we went and actually had a look at the Japanese … records," Dr Nelson said.

"What the Japanese records show, in meticulous details, is the ship was attacked at the precise location, precise time, by seven so called Betty Bombers - Japanese bombers, and three Japanese Zeros.

"Also, further to that, as the ship sank, the aircraft took enemy fire from the ship and two aircraft were damaged.

The two Japanese Zeros expended 15 per cent of their ammunition putting members of Sheean's ship under fire.

Teddy Sheean and fiancee Kath Lapthorne, with Kath wearing jodhpurs. Picture: courtesy Garry Ivory
Teddy Sheean and fiancee Kath Lapthorne, with Kath wearing jodhpurs. Picture: courtesy Garry Ivory

Verifying these circumstances in part have helped the push for Sheean's VC bid, as previously the exact circumstances were not recorded in the bid for his commendation.

Mr Morrison said Teddy Sheean's valour has never been in question, but to ensure the process of the recommendation was important.

"This is an exceptional case and it has taken many years for this case to emerge from the Second World War," he said.

Last month the Mercury reported that Tasmanians have for years pushed for Sheean to be recognised with the country's highest wartime honour, and his nephew, Garry Ivory, said the review gave the family renewed hope.

"I'm very hopeful this will be the thing that gets us the VC,'' Mr Ivory said at the time.

"I've never given up hope. I'm a little bit excited at the moment, but not overly, because we've been shut down before."

Veterans minister Guy Barnett and the nephew of Teddy Sheean, Garry Ivory. Picture: PATRICK GEE
Veterans minister Guy Barnett and the nephew of Teddy Sheean, Garry Ivory. Picture: PATRICK GEE

Veterans Affairs Minister Guy Barnett at the time said he was looking forward to reviewing the panel's terms of reference and again making the case for Sheean to receive a VC.

"I remain of the view that Teddy's extraordinary bravery deserves our country's highest honour,'' Mr Barnett said.

 

 

 

navarone.farrell@news.com.au

 

 

 

Originally published as Teddy Sheean now eligible for VC after expert panel decision


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