Queen Elizabeth approves top military honour for Australian war hero

World

12 August 2020, 13:05

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II has given her approval to award an Australian war hero a top military honour — 77 years after his death.

Edward “Teddy” Sheean is to be posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for sacrificing his life for his shipmates in the Second World War.

In late 1942 near East Timor, the crew aboard HMAS Armidale were given the orders to abandon ship as Japanese forces attacked, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison explained on Wednesday.

He added: “Sheean then turned back, made for the gun, strapped himself in, and returned fire to the Japanese. He fought to the very end.”

A week later, 49 crew members were rescued — many of them whom owed their lives to Sheean, who was just 18 years old when he died.

The sailor’s family have since spent decades campaigning to get him the recognition he deserves after initially being given a less exalted award.

An expert panel has since agreed there is compelling evidence to suggest Sheean should be given the Victoria Cross, leading to Morrison making the recommendation to Queen Elizabeth.

“This is a momentous day for the Sheean family,” Australia’s Governor-General David Hurley told reporters in Canberra. “In my conversations with them, their pride and emotion was very evident.”

Morrison added in his statement: “Teddy Sheean never saw wars end, never saw the peace he helped secure, and did not enjoy the long life that many of his crewmates did. That was the price he paid for his valour.”

A ceremony is due to be arranged in the next couple of months.

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