- Swinden, Greg
- Biographies and personal histories, History - WW2, Book reviews, Biographies
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Armidale I
- June 2021 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Teddy Sheean VC – A Selfless Act of Valour. Paperback of 379 pages by Tom Lewis. Big Sky Publishing, Newport NSW, 2021. Also available as an eBook.
The author played a significant role in putting forward the case for the award of the Victoria Cross (VC) to Ordinary Seaman Edward ‘Teddy’ Sheean as part of the 2012-13 Inquiry into Unresolved Recognition for Past Acts of Naval and Military Gallantry and Valour. He also produced the 2016 book Honour Denied – Teddy Sheean – A Tasmanian Hero; part of the campaign to continue the fight for the long overdue award of the posthumous VC to Teddy Sheean. So I can think of no better author to write the final book on this long journey to see justice done and honour rewarded.
The depth of the author’s knowledge is shown throughout the book from his many years of working with the extended Sheean family, and includes some previously little-known information regarding Teddy; such as his engagement to a local Tasmanian girl on his last leave and that after his death she never took off the engagement ring, or married.
Interviews with HMAS Armidale survivors, over a number of years, flesh out the whole story of Armidale’s final action, Teddy Sheean’s heroism and the equally poignant drama of the rescue of those who did survive the sinking of the corvette. A pleasing note is the countering of some of the Armidale myths, perpetuated in previous books, particularly the completely unsubstantiated rumours of the Japanese Navy finding and killing a raft load of Armidale survivors.
The story of the campaign to have Teddy Sheean awarded the VC is well described, as is the lack of a VC for Hec Waller of Perth and Robert Rankin of Yarra; although the book fails to mention the award of the Unit Citation for Gallantry in 2014 to the entire ship’s company of the sloop Yarra for their collective gallantry – effectively a VC for the ship due to their collective bravery.
Some aspects of the book could be improved, such as better-quality maps, photographs of limited relevance and the lack of an index. However, overall Teddy Sheean VC – A Selfless Act of Valour is an easy read and a worthy memorial to Teddy Sheean and the ship’s company of HMAS Armidale (I).
Reviewed by Greg Swinden