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Teddy Sheean VC

A Selfless Act of Valour

(5 customer reviews)
Authors: Tom Lewis
Military History, VC
170 x 245mm

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Winner of the 2021 ANI Commodore Sam Bateman Book Prize

No-one will ever know what made him do it.

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 many of his 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.

This book chronicles Teddy’s life and last months; his training in the Navy, and the struggle to have him awarded a VC. Illustrated with many photographs and graphics, this is a unique work written by a former naval officer who is now one of Australia’s foremost military historians.

Sheean is the 101st VC awarded to an Australian

Winner of the 2021 ANI Commodore Sam Bateman Book Prize

Tom Lewis

Tom Lewis

A retired naval officer and high school teacher, Dr Tom Lewis OAM served in the Australian Defence Force, where he saw active service as an intelligence analyst in the Middle East. Tom has written 21 history books, with his most recent being “The Sinking of HMAS Sydney”, which focuses on living, fighting and dying in […]

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5 reviews for Teddy Sheean VC

  1. Tom Lewis is to be commended for forensically reviewing all primary and secondary sources and producing an easy-to-read book about the short 18-year life of Teddy Sheean, as well as the even shorter 173-day life of HMAS Armidale.

  2. This book about Teddy’s war, a story of a sea disaster and tragedy, should be in the library of every school in Australia and readily available in Timor Leste, Indonesia and Holland. This event was the greatest loss of RAN life after the sinking of HMAS Sydney and HMAS Parramatta in the Second World War.

  3. Thank you for your wonderful books.

  4. Tom Lewis is highly regarded for his work in naval history. With this book, he has traced the short trajectory of Teddy Sheean’s naval career against the backdrop of the often brutal conflict that was war in the Pacific.

    The story of long overdue and much deserved recognition for a young man of outstanding courage.

  5. Winner of the 2021 ANI Commodore Sam Bateman Book Prize

    In its inaugural year, the Commodore Sam Bateman Book Prize has been contested by 11 highly distinguished pieces that promote the study and understanding of Naval and Maritime matters.

    Their epoch stretched from the 1400s to modern day with a wide-ranging basis of topic, from deeply historically researched pieces, to analysis of Australian Capability development, World War I warship design and build and notable personages and capabilities.

    The judging panel consisted of Rear Admiral Allan Du Toit, Commodore Allison Norris, Captain Guy Blackburn and Sub-Lieutenant Alison Smith.

    On review the contest was particularly close with some insightful research topics that shed light on previously unresearched naval and maritime matters.

    The judges were unanimous in their judging and assessment of the winning entry.

    The Winner of the 2021 ANI Commodore Sam Bateman Book Prize is: Teddy Sheean VC- A Selfless Act of Courage

    Author: Tom Lewis

    Publisher Big Sky Publishing

    Judges’ Comments

    Whilst appearing to be narrowly focussed on the retrospective award of Australia’s first Naval Victorian Cross recipient, Teddy Sheean VC, this opus is anything but a narrow view of the Royal Australian Navy’s highest honour to date. The book uses the background of Teddy Sheean’s life in the early 1900s through to his death in World War II in HMAS Armidale as a vehicle to not only tell Teddy’s story from his life in Tasmania, to joining the RAN, to his ultimate sacrifice, but also review those notable personages who received award and accolade for their feats of courage in action in the RAN using the Australian honours and awards system to contrast the decision made by the Admiralty.

    The language is rich, easy to read and follow and sets the scene for a deft analysis of notable RAN personages such as Waller, Dechaineaux and Collins to name but a view. With a strongly researched geostrategic background, Teddy Sheean VC also provides the reader a definitional framework into “why the things are the way they are” such as a wonderfully raucous background into why cannons are called cannons, versus why destroyers are called such. It closes with a lesson learned theme for the future in acknowledging the acts of courage that occur at sea by Australians and how as a nation, Australia should be prouder.

    The presentation of the book is sublime, with plates, pictures and charts scattered throughout that not only provide added information for the reader, but also break up the in-depth analysis to hold the reader’s attention without effort.

    The judges note that 2021 was the year in which Teddy Sheean was awarded the first Naval Victoria Cross of Australia, however were independent and unanimous without influence over the winners judging.

    Overall, Teddy Sheean VC not only informed and progressed the naval and maritime conversation by delivering previously undiscovered works, it also helped the reader form an opinion on what may come next through a rich tapestry of storytelling with historical research.

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