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The Extraordinary Valor of Ordinary Seaman Teddy Sheean

Edward “Teddy” Sheean held the rank of unusual seaman on December 1, 1942 when his ship came underneath Japanese hearth. There was, nevertheless, nothing atypical concerning the youth who, after being struck by bullets in the back and chest, strapped himself to a 20 mm cannon so that he might maintain firing on the enemy in an effort to save lots of the surviving members of the ship’s crew while going beneath with the sinking ship.

What was it that stirred him to such phenomenal bravery that, seventy-seven years after his demise, the movement to award him the Victoria Cross continues? Perhaps more puzzling, why has the continued quest to acknowledge Sheean with this tribute of army bravery not succeeded, regardless of many years of attempts by those that really feel that Ordinary Seaman Sheean performed an act of extraordinary valor?

Maybe it was the struggle itself which brought forth his braveness within the alchemy of trial by hearth which turns odd troopers into sailors into heroes. There was nothing exceptional in his upbringing. He came from a humble background. Sheean, born December 28, 1923, was the youngest of the fourteen offspring of James and Mary Jane Broomhall Sheean, a working class couple in Lower Barrington in northern Tasmania. If not for the conflict, the youngest Sheean may need spent his life in peaceable obscurity. He attended Catholic faculties and when his schooling was finished, he found work as a laborer on a number of farms within the neighborhood.

Studio portrait of the Sheean brothers of Lower Barrington, Tasmania, each Australian sailors serving on HMAS Derwent. On the left is H1646 Stoker Class II Thomas (Mick) Sheean and on the fitting is H1617 Ordinary Seaman (OS) Edward (Teddy) Sheean, RAN. (Credits: AWM)

After the outbreak of World Conflict II, five of his older brothers had already enlisted in the army: four brothers went to the Military and one to the Royal Australian Navy. Teddy Sheean adopted in his sailor brother’s path and signed up for the Royal Australian Naval Reserve on April 21, 1941.

He received his coaching on the Hobart naval base Derwent. After his preliminary training was finished, he was despatched to the Flinders Naval Depot in Victoria for more coaching. In Might 1942, he was billeted to the Kuttabul, a requisitioned ferry in Sydney Harbor. When Japanese midget submarines attacked and sank the Kuttabul on Might 31, Sheean was residence on depart. When Sheean returned to Sydney in June, he was assigned to HMAS Armidale, a brand new Bathurst-class corvette. Ordinary Seaman Sheean’s position on the Armidale was to function an Oerlikon anti-aircraft gun loader.

The new ship’s duties, performing as a convoy escort along the japanese and northern coasts of Australia, proved to be fairly tranquil at first.  In February 1942, most of the Allied garrison on the island of Timor had surrendered to the Japanese, but more than four hundred Australian commandos had remained to conduct a guerilla conflict towards the occupying Japanese. The Australian Navy replenished their provides and gear and, since Might 1942, ships had been making the naval run.  It was dangerous work. The Voyager ran aground at Betano Bay during a mission in September and underwent attack by Japanese bombers dropping incendiary and anti-personnel bombs. The crew, with a view to make it possible for nothing might be salvaged by the enemy, fired demolition costs in the Voyager’s engine room and set the ship on hearth.

But because the yr went on, the guerilla struggle in Timor was more durable to battle. The Armidale was ordered to Darwin in October, 1942 and on November 29, left on a resupply and evacuation mission to Timor. The Kuru and Castlemaine have been also on this mission to convey the weary 2/2 Unbiased Company back to Australia, deliver troopers to strengthen the Dutch guerillas on Timor, and evacuate 190 Dutch troops and 150 Portuguese civilians. The Armidale and the Castlemaine have been attacked by Japanese aircraft en path to their vacation spot, arriving before dawn on December 1, however late for the scheduled rendezvous with HMAS Kuru. When the 2 corvettes did meet up with the Kuru south of Betano Bay, the Castlemaine’s commanding officer decided to send the Armidale and Kuru to Betano Bay the following night time.

That put the Armidale in a dangerous place, as it might be spending the day in enemy waters, a weak goal; the ship had already been spotted by Japanese reconnaissance pilots not long after it left port. That afternoon, ninety miles off the coast of Timor, the Armidale came beneath assault from Japanese aircraft. A torpedo struck the port aspect. A second torpedo hit the engineering area. Then a bomb struck aft. When the Armidale started to listing closely, the order was given to desert ship. As the crew members jumped into the water, they turned weak targets for strafing by the Japanese machine gunners.

Teddy Sheean was first seen going to the port aspect as if he meant to hitch his mates and leap in the water, but then he appeared to vary his mind. Wounded within the back and chest, he pulled himself to his station, strapped himself to his gun, and commenced firing on the Japanese plane whereas the Armidale was taking place. The complete episode might have taken not more than three minutes in line with estimates from the witnesses watching from the water, but Sheean by no means stopped firing. He shot down one bomber and broken two more. As the stern of the ship disappeared into the Arafura Sea, Teddy was still firing.

Dale Marsh's painting of Ordinary Seaman Teddy Sheean depicting him strapped to a gun on HMAS Armidale.Dale Marsh’s painting of Ordinary Seaman Teddy Sheean depicting him strapped to a gun on HMAS Armidale. (Credit: AWM)

Even as the ship surrendered to the waters that have been overcoming it, Sheean could possibly be seen, first as he disappeared under the surface of the water and then, after he was dragged under, by the tracer hearth coming from beneath the water.


In the course of the assault a aircraft had been brought down and for this the credit score went to Ordinary Seaman Teddy Sheean. Teddy died, but none of us who survived, I’m positive, will ever overlook his gallant deed … When the order ‘Abandon ship’ was given, he made for the aspect, only to be hit twice by the bullets of an attacking Zero. None of us will ever know what made him do it, however he went back to his gun, strapped himself in, and introduced down a Jap aircraft, still firing as he disappeared beneath the waves. (Supply: Ordinary Seaman Russel Caro)


Of the 100 forty-nine males aboard the Armidale, solely forty-nine would survive the attack.  It’s inconceivable to estimate how many of these forty-nine owe their survival to the gallantry of Teddy Sheean. Upon the advice of his commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander David Richards, Sheean was Mentioned in Dispatches (MiD), an honor which cites his identify in an official report.

In 1991, Ivy Sheean Hayes, Teddy Sheean’s sister, launched the HMAS Sheean, a Collins Class submarine, the one Royal Australian Navy vessel to be named after someone with the rank of bizarre seaman. His bravery was  acknowledged in a portray with the Australian Warfare Memorial commemorating the final moments of his life. In 1992, the city of Latrobe opened the Sheean Walk and Teddy Sheean Memorial to honor the life of a young man who died too quickly, however whose courage made it attainable for others to outlive.

However he has not acquired the Victoria Cross.  Australians marvel why, of the one hundred Victoria Crosses which were awarded, no one from the Australian Navy has ever been acknowledged as worthy of the honour? Certainly, they really feel, Teddy Sheean, regardless of his humble background and his youth, carried out deeds of valor which benefit the Victoria Cross.

To his nephew, Garry Ivory, who has spent three many years making an attempt to win the Victoria Cross for his uncle, Teddy Sheean’s altruism deserves the very best award designated for army bravery. “He sacrificed his life to save his mates, so to me, I don’t think there’s been a more heroic deed in the armed forces, Army, Navy or Air Force.”

The families of the forty-nine men who survived the attack on the Armidale would in all probability agree.

Edward “Teddy” Sheean held the rank of atypical seaman on December 1, 1942 when his ship got here beneath Japanese hearth. There was, nevertheless, nothing atypical concerning the youth who, after being struck by bullets in the again and chest, strapped himself to a 20 mm cannon so that he might hold firing on the enemy in an effort to save lots of the surviving members of the ship’s crew.

What was it that stirred him to such phenomenal bravery that, seventy-seven years after his demise, the motion to award him the Victoria Cross continues? Perhaps extra puzzling, why has the continued quest to recognize Sheean with this tribute of army bravery not succeeded, despite many years of attempts by those who really feel that Ordinary Seaman Sheean carried out an act of extraordinary valor?

Maybe it was the conflict itself which brought forth his braveness within the alchemy of trial by hearth which turns atypical soldiers into sailors into heroes. There was nothing exceptional in his upbringing. He came from a humble background. Sheean, born December 28, 1923, was the youngest of the fourteen offspring of James and Mary Jane Broomhall Sheean, a working class couple in Lower Barrington in northern Tasmania. If not for the conflict, the youngest Sheean may need spent his life in peaceful obscurity. He attended Catholic faculties and when his schooling was finished, he discovered work as a laborer on several farms within the neighborhood.

After the outbreak of World Struggle II, five of his older brothers had already enlisted in the army: 4 brothers went to the Army and one to the Royal Australian Navy. Teddy Sheean adopted in his sailor brother’s path and signed up for the Royal Australian Naval Reserve on April 21, 1941.

He acquired his training on the Hobart naval base Derwent. After his initial coaching was completed, he was sent to the Flinders Naval Depot in Victoria for extra coaching. In Might 1942, he was billeted to the Kuttabul, a requisitioned ferry in Sydney Harbor.  When Japanese midget submarines attacked and sank the Kuttabul on Might 31, Sheean was house on depart. When Sheean returned to Sydney in June, he was assigned to HMAS Armidale, a new Bathurst-class corvette. Ordinary Seaman Sheean’s position on the Armidale was to serve as an Oerlikon anti-aircraft gun loader.

The new ship’s duties, performing as a convoy escort alongside the japanese and northern coasts of Australia, proved to be fairly tranquil at first.  In February 1942, most of the Allied garrison on the island of Timor had surrendered to the Japanese, however more than 4 hundred Australian commandos had remained to conduct a guerilla struggle towards the occupying Japanese. The Australian Navy replenished their provides and gear and, since Might 1942, ships had been making the naval run.  It was harmful work. The Voyager ran aground at Betano Bay during a mission in September and underwent assault by Japanese bombers dropping incendiary and anti-personnel bombs. The crew, in an effort to make it possible for nothing might be salvaged by the enemy, fired demolition costs within the Voyager’s engine room and set the ship on hearth.

But as the yr went on, the guerilla warfare in Timor was more durable to battle. The Armidale was ordered to Darwin in October, 1942 and on November 29, left on a resupply and evacuation mission to Timor. The Kuru and Castlemaine have been additionally on this mission to deliver the weary 2/2 Unbiased Firm back to Australia, deliver soldiers to strengthen the Dutch guerillas on Timor, and evacuate 190 Dutch troops and 150 Portuguese civilians. The Armidale and the Castlemaine have been attacked by Japanese plane en path to their destination, arriving before dawn on December 1, however late for the scheduled rendezvous with HMAS Kuru. When the 2 corvettes did meet up with the Kuru south of Betano Bay, the Castlemaine’s commanding officer decided to ship the Armidale and Kuru to Betano Bay the following night time.

That put the Armidale in a dangerous position, as it might be spending the day in enemy waters, a weak goal; the ship had already been noticed by Japanese reconnaissance pilots not lengthy after it left port. That afternoon, ninety miles off the coast of Timor, the Armidale got here underneath assault from Japanese aircraft. A torpedo struck the port aspect. A second torpedo hit the engineering area. Then a bomb struck aft. When the Armidale started to record heavily, the order was given to abandon ship. As the crew members jumped into the water, they turned weak targets for strafing by the Japanese machine gunners.

Teddy Sheean was first seen going to the port aspect as if he meant to hitch his mates and bounce in the water, but then he appeared to vary his mind. Wounded in the again and chest, he pulled himself to his station, strapped himself to his gun, and commenced firing on the Japanese aircraft while the Armidale was taking place. The whole episode might have taken no more than three minutes in accordance with estimates from the witnesses watching from the water, however Sheean by no means stopped firing. He shot down one bomber and damaged two extra. As the stern of the ship disappeared into the Arafura Sea, Teddy was still firing.

Even as the ship surrendered to the waters that have been overcoming it, Sheean could possibly be seen, first as he disappeared under the surface of the water after which, after he was dragged under, by the tracer hearth coming from beneath the water.

Of the one hundred forty-nine men aboard the Armidale, only forty-nine would survive the attack.  It’s unimaginable to estimate what number of of these forty-nine owe their survival to the gallantry of Teddy Sheean. Upon the recommendation of his commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander David Richards, Sheean was Talked about in Dispatches (MiD), an honor which cites his identify in an official report.

In 1991, Ivy Sheean Hayes, Teddy Sheean’s sister, launched the HMAS Sheean, a Collins Class submarine, the one Royal Australian Navy vessel to be named after somebody with the rank of atypical seaman. His bravery was  recognized in a portray with the Australian Conflict Memorial commemorating the final moments of his life. In 1992, the city of Latrobe opened the Sheean Stroll and Teddy Sheean Memorial to honor the life of a younger man who died too quickly, however whose braveness made it potential for others to survive.

But he has not acquired the Victoria Cross.  Australians marvel why, of the 100 Victoria Crosses which were awarded, nobody from the Australian Navy has ever been acknowledged as worthy of the consideration? Certainly, they really feel, Teddy Sheean, regardless of his humble background and his youth, carried out deeds of valor which benefit the Victoria Cross.

To his nephew, Garry Ivory, who has spent three many years making an attempt to win the Victoria Cross for his uncle, Teddy Sheean’s altruism deserves the very best award designated for army bravery. “He sacrificed his life to save his mates, so to me, I don’t think there’s been a more heroic deed in the armed forces, Army, Navy or Air Force.”

The families of the forty-nine men who survived the assault on the Armidale would in all probability agree.