Teddy Sheean VC
Edward "Teddy" Sheean was an ordinary seaman serving on HMAS Armidale whose death during a Japanese aerial attack is an inspirational story of Australian loyalty and bravery.
Sheean was born at Lower Barrington, Tasmania, on 28 December 1923, educated at Latrobe and later worked on farms. He enlisted in the Royal Australian Naval Reserve in April 1941.
After a period on HMAS Kuttabul, which was sunk in Sydney Harbour while he was on leave, he began service as an anti-aircraft gunner on the newly commissioned HMAS Armidale.
On 29 November 1942 Armidale began her last operation, a resupply and evacuation mission to Japanese-Occupied Timor.
On this mission, Armidale was hit by two aircraft-launched torpedoes and began to sink fast. Sheean was wounded and, rather than abandon ship, he strapped himself to his Oerlikon and began to engage the attacking aircraft even as the ship sunk beneath him. He shot down two planes, and crewmates recall seeing tracer rising from beneath the surface as Sheean was dragged under the water, firing until the end. He died on 1 December 1942 aged just 18.
Sheean was mentioned in dispatches for his bravery and in 1999 HMAs, Sheean, a Collins Class submarine, was named after him - the only ship in the RAN named for a sailor.
In 2020, following a sustained public campaign to have Ordinary Seaman Sheean's selfless actions appropriately recognised, the Governor-General presented the insignia of the Victoria Cross for Australia to Teddy Sheean's family at a ceremony held at Government House in Canberra.