In 1942, 18-year-old Edward “Teddy” Sheean was one of the youngest and most inexperienced sailors on board the the corvette HMAS Armidale. Whilst on operation in the Timor Sea this warship came under heavy attack by Japanese aircraft. Armidale began sinking while swarmed by Japanese aircraft, strafing and bombing the stricken vessel and the crew who were desperately trying to Abandon Ship. The wounded Ordinary Seaman turned back to his gun, an Oerlikon 20mm anti-aircraft cannon and strapped himself into the harness. He began firing at the attacking Japanese aircraft, a courageous young man, determined to do his best to save his mates. This selfless act of valour helped save the lives of 49 crew, before Teddy himself went down with the Armidale.
No member of the Royal Australian Navy has ever been awarded a Victoria Cross. Teddy’s family and many others took up his case and fought for his recognition. It took more than 70 years for Teddy to becomes the first in Australia’s Naval history to receive this highest award ¬– confirming Teddy Sheean is an Australian hero.
Dr Thomas Anthony "Tom" Lewis, OAM is an Australian author, military historian, editor, teacher, and former naval officer. An author since 1989, Lewis worked as a high school teacher, and served as naval officer for 20 years, seeing active service in Baghdad during the Iraq war, and working in East Timor. In June 2003, Lewis was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for meritorious service to the Royal Australian Navy, particularly in the promotion of Australian naval history. Dr Lewis is the author of 14 books and continues to work on a variety of military history research projects, including acting as Lead Historian for The Territory Remembers, the NT Government's commemoration of 75 years since the first air raid on the NT in 1942.