Queen approves posthumous VC for WWII Australian minesweeper sailor

Queen approves Victoria Cross for WWII hero Teddy Sheean

ABC News said:
Queen Elizabeth II has approved the posthumous awarding of the Victoria Cross to WWII hero Edward 'Teddy' Sheean, Governor-General David Hurley says. The 18-year-old had less than two years at sea and was serving on the minesweeper HMAS Armidale when it came under heavy attack from Japanese aircraft off the coast of what is now Timor-Leste in 1942. Sheean is recorded as helping launch life rafts before returning to fire at enemy aircraft, despite the order having been given to abandon ship...

Key points:
  • Teddy Sheean was 18 when he died as the HMAS Armidale was attacked by Japanese aircraft in 1942
  • He remained onboard, firing at the enemy despite the order having been given to abandon ship
  • There has been a long-running effort for Sheean to be awarded the Victoria Cross, involving several panels and reviews
  • It comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison recommended the Ordinary Seaman be awarded Australia's highest military honour earlier this week.
 
Read about him in Sea Classics magazine many years ago, very brave young man
 
The fact that the Queen has approved it suggests Imperial VC. Lots of discussion down under as to setting a dangerous precedent. Apparently during the review the new information that came to light was from Japanese that they had to break off the strafing runs on the survivors in the water due to the incoming aa fire. First RAN award of the Victoria Cross.
 
It could be argued that any posthumous award is technically retrospective - particularly when the recommendation went in after death.
 
Should one ever visit the town of Latrobe in North-Western Tasmania you will find a rather large memorial to the lad. From Wiki:

Sheean was among 100 of the original 149 people on board HMAS Armidale at the time of the attack who were killed during the ship's sinking and its aftermath.[1][3] Many of the survivors attributed their lives to Sheean.[10][14] For his "bravery and devotion when HMAS Armidale was lost",[15] Sheean's actions were recognised with a posthumous Mention in Despatches, awarded on the recommendation of Armidale's commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander David Richards,[10] and announced in a supplement to The London Gazette on 29 June 1943.[16] However, many hold the opinion that Sheean's gallantry, devotion to duty and self-sacrifice were worthy of the Victoria Cross,[2][3] with author Robert Macklin stating his "actions were in the highest tradition of the Australian military" and comparing them with those of Vietnam War Victoria Cross recipient Kevin Wheatley.[12]

On 1 May 1999, the submarine HMAS Sheean was launched by Ivy Hayes—sister of Teddy Sheean—named in the ordinary seaman's honour.[17] Sheean was subsequently commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy on 23 February 2001, and was the first Royal Australian Navy vessel to be named in honour of a naval rating.[3][18] Carrying the motto "Fight On", the vessel was one of six Collins-class submarines entered into service. Later that year, a Bill was introduced into the Australian Senate to have three awards of the Victoria Cross for Australia made, one being to Sheean.[19] The Bill came as part of a campaign by the then-leader of the Australian Labor Party and Federal Opposition, Kim Beazley, to secure more rights for war veterans.[20] However, it was subsequently rejected by the Liberal Government.[21] A painting depicting Sheean's final moments is held by the Australian War Memorial.[3] His home town of Latrobe commemorates his life via the Sheean Walk and Teddy Sheean Memorial, opened in 1992.[13] In 2003, the Australian Navy Cadets established a training ship at Tewantin, Queensland, called NTS Sheean in his honour.[22]
I am of two minds about whether a posthumous VC should be awarded. Yes, his act was selfless in its bravery; yes he probably deserved something a lot better than a mere mentioned in despatches. However, there are probably hundreds if not thousands of cases where valour has not been recognised and does this example open up the flood-gates to more claims. It has come on the end of a very long campaign by his relatives and others to have this award made and I am uncomfortable with this process. I believe that valour awards should be the result of a careful process, not the strident call of the public where the decision is more politics in play than respect for the man.
 
The fact that the Queen has approved it suggests Imperial VC. Lots of discussion down under as to setting a dangerous precedent. Apparently during the review the new information that came to light was from Japanese that they had to break off the strafing runs on the survivors in the water due to the incoming aa fire. First RAN award of the Victoria Cross.
The award is a Victoria Cross for Australia (pedant hat on its “for”, not “of”). Which is interesting, since the award was instigated in 1991 and didn’t exist when the act of gallantry occurred.

The award does set a precedent, but only for Australia; the Victoria Cross for Australia is a matter for the Australian Defence Honours and Awards Committee, the Australian Government, Governor General and the Sovereign. It has nothing to do with the UK VC; they are not the same award.

The retrospective awards issue has been rumbling for ages; a bill was introduced in Parliament back in 2001 to award three, including Sheean. It didn’t get passed due to elections, but it’s rumbled on. The Honours Appeals Tribunal has recently looked at 13, not all of whom were military. Interestingly the Awards Appeals Tribunal recommended that no awards should be made; the Morrison government appears to have overruled that recommendation.

So another divergence between the British Victoria Cross and the Victoria Cross for Australia; the Australian award can be made to civilians recommended by the Defence Minister.
 
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The award is a Victoria Cross for Australia (pedant hat on its “for”, not “of”). Which is interesting, since the award was instigated in 1991 and didn’t exist when the act of gallantry occurred.

The award does set a precedent, but only for Australia; the Victoria Cross for Australia is a matter for the Australian Defence Honours and Awards Committee, the Australian Government, Governor General and the Sovereign. It has nothing to do with the UK VC; they are not the same award.

The retrospective awards issue has been rumbling for ages; a bill was introduced in Parliament back in 2001 to award three, including Sheean. It didn’t get passed due to elections, but it’s rumbled on. The Honours Appeals Tribunal has recently looked at 13, not all of whom were military. Interestingly the Awards Appeals Tribunal recommended that no awards should be made; the Morrison government appears to have overruled that recommendation.

So another divergence between the British Victoria Cross and the Victoria Cross for Australia; the Australian award can be made to civilians recommended by the Defence Minister.
Isn't there a danger of degrading the standing of the Australian VC compared to the original Imperial award if there is an impression of watering down the criteria? Although this doesn't apply to Sheean RAN
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
ABC News said:
Queen Elizabeth II has approved the posthumous awarding of the Victoria Cross to WWII hero Edward 'Teddy' Sheean, Governor-General David Hurley says. ...
Sheean is recorded as helping launch life rafts before returning to fire at enemy aircraft, despite the order having been given to abandon ship.
Shouldn't he be posthumously charged with wilfully disobeying an order ?
 
Isn't there a danger of degrading the standing of the Australian VC compared to the original Imperial award if there is an impression of watering down the criteria? Although this doesn't apply to Sheean RAN
Probably, but I don’t think that’s significant. The award is an Australian award to an Australian for an act of bravery on an Australian ship. It’s a matter for Australia and few Australians would know the difference.

That said all VCs are awarded for the same thing: “most conspicuous bravery......in the presence of the enemy”. I think it’s quite reasonable to expect that the awards committees of all four countries that award their own Victoria Cross (UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand) to diverge slightly in interpretation, just as it’s reasonable to assume that the committees of today diverge when compared with wartime committees. They are made up of humans. But that is not what has happened; this is become political.

There has long been a feeling that acts of supreme bravery by Australians in the two World Wars were not recognised equally with those of British servicemen. Whether true or not, that is the origin of the 13 retrospective cases. Whatever, there have been lots of campaigns over the years to honour them

The cases of Sheean, John Simpson Kirkpatrick and Albert Cleary were the three put to Parliament in 2001. There was a clear issue that award of the VC was and is not a matter for Parliament. It clearly wasn’t, so it didn’t run. But the subsequent Valour Inquiry into 13 potential found that none met the criteria. In Sheehan’s case they found that, had he lived, his bravery would have warranted a CGM or DSM, neither of which could be awarded posthumously. And so posthumous MID was right.

But this year, the Morrison government instigated a further enquiry which recommended differently. And so an award has been made. IMHO it’s political virtue signalling. Acts that took place over 70 years ago are being viewed through a 21st Century lens. In no way does that view belittle Sheehan’s bravery or his acts; they just didn’t meet the criteria. And so we have a case of reviewing an unpopular but correct decision multiple times until the “right” political answer is found.

That said, it’s gone down well; public opinion and press coverage seems to be positive. And it’s a matter for Australia!
 

dlrg

LE
The merits of this and many, many other (non)awards can and have been discussed 'untill the cows come/came home'. The point here is, that this award of a VC has been approved by HM the Queen. Is there need for further discussion...?
 
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The merits of this and many, many other (non)awards can and have been discussed 'untill the cows come/came home'. The point here is, that this award of a VC has been approved by HM the Queen. Is there need for further discussion...?
That’s kind of the point. The Governor General awards the Victoria Cross for Australia with the Queen’s approval.

HM the Queen of Australia has acted on the advice of her Governor General, who, in turn, was acting on the advice of the Australian Federal Government. Constitutionally, she has to take that advice. By politicising this, the PM has placed both the GG and the Queen in an invidious position.

Mind you Tony Abbott got the Queen to approve an Australian Knighthood for The Duke of Edinburgh. I wonder how that one went!
 

4(T)

LE
Floodgates open.


Stand by for a mass of retrospective BAME VCs.

I'm not being contentious; this is exactly the sort of thing that is going to be seized upon by the Race Divisionist juggernaut as another front in their culture war - and they have lobbying power orders of magnitude greater than the elderly niece of corporal Atkins, who may have been overlooked for a gong at Tobruk.

Very bad mistake to go unpicking the events of the past.
 

dlrg

LE
HM the Queen of Australia has acted on the advice of her Governor General, who, in turn, was acting on the advice of the Australian Federal Government. Constitutionally, she has to take that advice. By politicising this, the PM has placed both the GG and the Queen in an invidious position.
I can see what you are saying Bob. HM is, however, not stupid. She has more experience of 'Politicking' than most. My point is, that as Head of Sate of the Commnwealth of Australia, HM is the 'Fount of Honour'. Not the PM, the GG, you or I. (Apologies for stating the obvious).
 
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I can see what you are saying Bob. HM is, however, not stupid. She has more experience of 'Politicking' than most. My point is, that as Head of Sate of the Commnwealth of Australia, HM is the 'Fount of Honour'. Not the PM, the GG, you or I. (Apologies for stating the obvious).
I too get what you are saying. It’s nuanced. Most Australians would struggle to understand let alone agree with the concept that HM The Queen is the “Fount of Honour”

And from a practical side, where Boris Johnson gets a weekly audience in which the Queen can offer her wisdom, Scott Morrison does not. And nor does the GG.
 

Bodenplatte

War Hero
Floodgates open.


Stand by for a mass of retrospective BAME VCs.

I'm not being contentious; this is exactly the sort of thing that is going to be seized upon by the Race Divisionist juggernaut as another front in their culture war - and they have lobbying power orders of magnitude greater than the elderly niece of corporal Atkins, who may have been overlooked for a gong at Tobruk.

Very bad mistake to go unpicking the events of the past.
It is already happening in the US - in 1997 several Medals of Honor were awarded for WW2 actions by black troops. In January 2001 Cpl Andrew Jackson Smith, 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, US Colored Troops, was posthumously awarded the MoH for his actions at Honey Hill, S. Carolina, on 30 November 1864.
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
Should one ever visit the town of Latrobe in North-Western Tasmania you will find a rather large memorial to the lad. From Wiki:



I am of two minds about whether a posthumous VC should be awarded. Yes, his act was selfless in its bravery; yes he probably deserved something a lot better than a mere mentioned in despatches. However, there are probably hundreds if not thousands of cases where valour has not been recognised and does this example open up the flood-gates to more claims. It has come on the end of a very long campaign by his relatives and others to have this award made and I am uncomfortable with this process. I believe that valour awards should be the result of a careful process, not the strident call of the public where the decision is more politics in play than respect for the man.
If we go far down the road of "awards to satisfy public opinions and campaigns", the next thing you know, an elderly gentleman will be awarded a Knighthood for walking up and down his garden. Not knocking Hon Col Sir Thomas Moore, but I doubt that an honour north of an MBE would have been given had it not been for puclic pressure.
 

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