Upon Prime Minister Scott Morrison ‘s recommendation, World War II hero Edward “Teddy” Sheean is expected to receive a posthumous Victoria cross. Sheean was an 18-year-old Royal Australian Navy Ordinary Seaman aboard the HMAS Armidale minesweeper when it was bombed off the coast of what is now Timor-Leste in 1942 by Japanese warplanes.
The Tasmanian is recorded as helping launch the stricken vessel’s lifeboats for fellow crewman before he returned to his anti-aircraft gun.
Despite the order to abandon ship, Sheean remained at his post firing at the enemy aircraft.
Survivors recorded him firing his gun as the ship sank.
He was never seen again.
After earlier attempts to award him the Victoria Cross failed, Mr Morrison ordered an expert panel to reexamine the case.
Mr Scott Morrison said he acknowledged the panel’s suggestion that Sheean earn the Victoria Cross – the Australian armed forces’ highest and most coveted decoration of valour.
The Prime Minister said the analysis was conducted because “on the basis of popularity or opinion you don’t go handing out VCs.”
But he said it had ensured Sheean’s bravery was duly recognized today.
“We have to uphold the integrity and ensure that justice is done to these incredibly brave actions,” Mr Morrison said.
A statement by the Federal Government said the recommendation to award the Victoria Cross had been made after “compelling” new evidence.
“The panel has identified maladministration in the consideration of Teddy Sheean’s actions, as well as compelling new evidence that his previously awarded Mention in Dispatches should be replaced with a Victoria Cross.”
It added Mr Morrison has written to the Governor-General requesting he seek the approval of the Queen to posthumously award a Victoria Cross for Australia.
Tasmanians have for years pushed for Sheean to be recognised with the country’s highest wartime honour.
Former Australian War Memorial director Brendan Nelson chaired the panel, which also included barrister David Bennett QC and Peter Shergold, who was once Australia’s top public servant.
NSW Anzac Memorial senior curator and historian Brad Manera was also a member.