The family of Teddy Sheean had hoped a ceremony to recognise the Victoria Cross honour for the World War II hero could be held as early as December.
The family of Teddy Sheean had hoped a ceremony to recognise the Victoria Cross honour for the World War II hero could be held as early as December.

Border ban likely to impact Teddy Sheean VC ceremony

THE push for a hometown ceremony to recognise Tasmanian war hero Teddy Sheean's Victoria Cross is likely to be hampered by the state's border restrictions, but the family believes there is no rush to hold the event.

Sheean's family had hoped a ceremony in Latrobe could be held on December 1, which would mark 78 years to the day of the teenage sailor's brave actions during World War II.

It comes after the Queen last week approved the awarding of the Victoria Cross, after Prime Minister Scott Morrison had recommended the honour just days earlier after a fresh review into the case.

14/08/2008 NEWS: Dale Marsh's painting of Teddy Sheean, who lashed himself to his gun and fired until the HMAS Armadale sank. He gave others time to get away. Pic Australian War Memorial. Pic. Awm
14/08/2008 NEWS: Dale Marsh's painting of Teddy Sheean, who lashed himself to his gun and fired until the HMAS Armadale sank. He gave others time to get away. Pic Australian War Memorial. Pic. Awm

The news was the culmination of decades of campaigning by Sheean's family and other advocates including Tasmania's Veterans' Affairs Minister Guy Barnett.

An announcement by Premier Peter Gutwein to keep Tasmanian borders closed until at least December 1 has raised questions about when the ceremony could be held.

A spokesman for the office of the Governor-General David Hurley said arrangements for the ceremony were ongoing.

"The Governor-General's office will work with the Sheean family and the Navy to arrange an investiture ceremony that befits the magnitude of the award and its significance to Australia,'' he said.

"Noting current COVID-19 restrictions and the desire of many people to attend the investiture, we will work to a ceremony in coming months.

"There is no direct precedent: for the most recent Victoria Cross recipients, investiture ceremonies have been conducted by the Governor-General at Government House in Canberra or at their unit."

Garry Ivory, nephew of Tasmanian Teddy Sheean. Sheean has been recommended by the Prime Minister to be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross. Picture: LUKE BOWDEN
Garry Ivory, nephew of Tasmanian Teddy Sheean. Sheean has been recommended by the Prime Minister to be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross. Picture: LUKE BOWDEN

Sheean's nephew Garry Ivory said while he would love for the ceremony to be in Latrobe, it would depend on the coronavirus situation and the advice of the Governor-General's office.

Mr Ivory said he was hopeful that regardless of where the event was staged, the event could be livestreamed or televised.

"I'm going to back what the Governor-General's office comes up with 100 per cent,'' he said.

"We've got the main thing - we've got the Victoria Cross and no one can take that away - but the time factor doesn't worry me one little bit."

Mr Ivory thanked the public for their support and well wishes following last week's announcement.

"It's been overwhelming but a great feeling,'' he said.

Sheean died on December 1, 1942 when the HMAS Armidale was torpedoed and sunk by Japanese forces in the Timor Sea.

Sheean strapped himself to the vessel's Oerlikon anti-aircraft gun and fired at enemy aircraft until he went down with the ship, his actions saving the lives of many crewmates.

A Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal last year recommended Sheean be awarded a VC, but in May the federal government knocked that back.

However, the following month Mr Morrison ordered a review of the case, with an expert panel chaired by former defence minister and Australian War Memorial director Brendan Nelson also recommending the honour last week.

cameron.whiteley@news.com.au

 

 

 

Originally published as Border restrictions likely to impact Sheean's VC ceremony