Edward ‘Teddy’ Sheean (1923-1942) served in the Royal Australian Navy as an ordinary seaman in World War II. He is well known in Australia and his home state of Tasmania for his actions to support his endangered crewmates when the HMAS Armidale sunk near Betano Bay, Timor.
Born in Lower Barrington in 1923 and educated in Latrobe, Sheean joined the Royal Australian Naval Reserve in 1942. Later that year he was stationed as an anti-aircraft gunner on the HMAS Armidale, a corvette tasked mainly with escort duties along the east and northern coasts of Australia.
In November 1942 the Armidale embarked on a resupply and evacuation mission to Timor, which was then under Japanese occupation. On 1 December 1942, about 100 kilometres off Timor’s Betano Bay, the ship was hit by an assault from Japanese aircraft and began to sink rapidly.
Sheean was wounded during the attack, but rather than attempting to evacuate, he strapped himself to his anti-aircraft cannon and opened fire at the Japanese aircraft. After single-handedly shooting down two enemy planes, Sheean went down with the ship, firing until he was dragged under.
Sheean’s remarkable acts have been recreated in a painting at the Australian War Memorial, and his name is honoured in the Department of Premier and Cabinet’s Teddy Sheean Memorial Grants Program. He is the only ordinary seaman to have an Australian Navy Vessel named after him.
The Latrobe Council established the Sheean Memorial and Sheean Walk of Remembrance to honour Teddy Sheean.