Morrison’s VC debacle: unanimous recommendation ignored

A lot of talk these days about heroes. But the Prime Minister doesn’t have a lot of time for Teddy Sheean.

Although wounded in the chest and back, the 18-year-old sailor shot down one bomber and kept other aircraft away from his comrades in the water.
He was seen still firing his gun as Armidale slipped below the waves. (Seaman Edward ‘Teddy’ Sheean).

 
UPDATE: BoJo ignores the red tape to arrange knighthood for 100 year-old fundraiser Colonel Tom Moore.

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93 Responses to Morrison’s VC debacle: unanimous recommendation ignored

  1. PhillipW

    A good book on the subject – “Honour Denied: Teddy Sheean: A Tasmanian Hero” by Dr Tom Lewis ex-naval officer and ex-Tasmanian.

  2. Makka

    Appalling. Those covered head to foot in PPE are “heroes”. Sheean’s bravery and sacrifice (he knew he was done for the second he took up the gun again) in the face of an overwhelming enemy to save his shipmates not so worthy? FMD , this country has gone to the dogs.

  3. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    Given Jackie Lambie’s record, she would want to be the last person to comment on the matter.

  4. Infidel Tiger King

    There must be more to this. Why in God’s name are those two fatheads denying Sheean his deserved honour?

    What do they have to gain by being so stupid?

  5. C.L.

    IT, it’s my understanding that the biggest ‘problem’ with a VC for Teddy is that it would assume – or be seen to imply – that the officer poobars of yesteryear were somehow remiss in the matter.

  6. anon

    Back in 1981 in Melbournes City Square a young boy got trapped in the tunnels under the fountain, two very brave fire officers saved him at great risk to their lives but the MFB refused to award them their highest bravery award because they used equipment incorrectly and disobeyed orders, so they instituted a lower grade award for them. bureaucracy everywhere hates initiative and if they can they condemn it or ignore it. Teddy did his best for his crewmates and died for it and the seat polishers didn’t like it then and they don’t like it now.

  7. Dasher

    I spent 30 years in the military including service in Vietnam. The story of Teddy Sheean is uplifting and I count him as one of my true heroes. However, I am not keen on retrospective awards at a time when it seems everyone is a hero. Sheean will be rememberersd forever for being one of many who should have but did not receive the highest award…that in itself is a badge of great honour. Dont open this pandora’s box.

  8. P

    PhillipW
    #3458624, posted on May 20, 2020 at 10:23 am

    A good book on the subject – “Honour Denied: Teddy Sheean: A Tasmanian Hero” by Dr Tom Lewis ex-naval officer and ex-Tasmanian.

    New book explores life, death and legacy of Tasmanian war hero – 2016

    Military historian Dr Tom Lewis’ fervent belief that Tasmanian war hero, Ordinary Seaman Edward “Teddy” Sheean, should be awarded a prestigious retrospective Victoria Cross underpins his latest literary offering.

  9. Rebel with cause

    Amazing how governments fall over themselves to correct “historical injustice” in other context but won’t do it for a conspicuous act of bravery.

    My understanding is that it has always been difficult for members of the Navy to be awarded the VC as the commendation must come from a senior commissioned officer, normally the captain. Captains had a habit of dying being mostly found on the bridge during combat which was generally the focus of enemy bombardment. Being dead tended to limit their capacity to make commendations.

  10. Old School Conservative

    How tin eared is our marketing-orientated PM?
    A VC for such valour would be just the tonic a struggling Australia needs.
    Refusing to follow the unanimous recommendation of an 11-member panel smacks of deep state involvement.
    My only idea for the refusal is that current grand poohbas of Defence are advising Morrison to not overturn some form of precedent.

  11. Entropy

    However, I am not keen on retrospective awards at a time when it seems everyone is a hero. Sheean will be rememberersd forever for being one of many who should have but did not receive the highest award…that in itself is a badge of great honour.

    Quite so.

  12. C.L.

    My only idea for the refusal is that current grand poohbas of Defence are advising Morrison to not overturn some form of precedent.

    Right. They’re defending their predecessors. Wankers.

    However, I am not keen on retrospective awards at a time when it seems everyone is a hero. Sheean will be rememberersd forever for being one of many who should have but did not receive the highest award…that in itself is a badge of great honour.

    The “everyone’s a hero” culture hardly extends to storied and verified war-time acts of extreme heroism. I think you’re conflating phenomena.

    And if such potential recipients and their deeds are re-examined, so what?

  13. Tel

    Teddy Sheean can wait until ScoMo is long gone … he will get his VC sooner or later.

    Getting old is one problem that is never going bother Teddy Sheean.

  14. Infidel Tiger King

    Any prospective Labor PM who runs on correcting this mistake will pick up all Tasmanian HofR seats.

    Easy politics.

  15. The ADF has always been very, very, stingy in awarding medals. If you compare a US military member of 20 years service to an ADF member, the US one will be almost collapsing from medals, while the ADF member may have nothing more than a 20 years service medal. Even many one star and above officers barely have any medals and, were it not for the fact that achieving one star rank automatically endows one with an OAM or the like, some wouldn’t have even that.

    Even bravery awards, for example, are meted out depending who you are. Say an aircraft crash lands and in one instance an aircrew member goes to rescue the downed pilot, but in another instance a ground crew member does the same. The medal awarded will be higher for the aircrew member because it’s assumed that the ground crew member wouldn’t have understood the potential risk of exploding fuel.

  16. John Dee

    I agree with Dasher.
    First up – he is most definitely qualified to give an opinion on this particular subject and I value it because of his actual experience.
    If I was a denied medal winner I could give a rat’s rear that it was because of some government wanker – even as high up as the prime minister.
    A pat on the back from the likes of Dasher or his mates or my mates in the field – now that is recognition that counts.
    Just sayin’.
    I do not qualify – never faced an angry man with a weapon – never wore the uniform of a fighting force.
    I did wear the Australian Army uniform for three weeks.
    I joined the Army Reserve in Cairns – many many years ago.
    They were going to send me to Townsville for an Officer’s course.
    After those 3 weeks I got a job overseas and left Australia – so I had to resign.
    The CO said “we should give you a medal for being the shortest serving recruit – ever”
    I would have liked that.
    Would I ever have had the balls of a Teddy Sheean?
    Nah – I would like to think so but – Nah.
    Blokes like Teddy are special.
    Respect.

  17. nfw

    Come on, honours and awards are being saved for the still being paid politicians and still being paid never worked so hard in their lives public servants who created and maintain this Fauci and Where are My Pants Ferguson stupidity. It’s classic Sir Humphrey who ensured the architect who designed the National Theatre received a knighthood so nobody would ever say the building looked like a carpet warehouse. Good metaphor for what has happened and will happen in Stupid Land, once known as Australia.

  18. stackja

    Public servants awarded many honours for just doing their duty. Paperwork is very trying.
    Meanwhile someone goes beyond the call of duty in combat is denied any honour.

  19. Terry

    ‘Refusing to follow the unanimous recommendation of an 11-member panel smacks of deep state involvement.’

    What a shame Scotty from marketing cannot find his inner resolve, initiative, and “leadership” when confronted by recommendations on “Renewable” Energy, Red tape, Foreign Aid “donations”, Stimulus Packages, Bureaucratic Bloat, Freedom of Speech, Divisions by Race, and the comprehensive destruction of our liberties because: COVID-1984!

    He is very fortunate to have Turnbull & Shorten for immediate comparison, and now “Albo”, along with Chairman Dan, the Glad Bag and QLD’s headless Chook.

  20. woolfe

    Won’t be long before SJW’s are awarded the VC

  21. Vagabond

    If I was a denied medal winner I could give a rat’s rear that it was because of some government wanker – even as high up as the prime minister.
    A pat on the back from the likes of Dasher or his mates or my mates in the field – now that is recognition that counts.

    +1000

  22. Michael

    I’d probably expect if from David Morrison, but from Scott Morrison?

  23. Up The Workers!

    If our ingrate pollies consider that Teddy Sheeans’ heroic level of ultimate sacrifice to be inadequate for an Australian Honours award, could we therefore strip ALL honours awards from every single back-slapping, wallet-stuffing, trough-snouting politician whose level of sacrifice was anything less than Sheeans?

    What is the purpose of giving these awards when we ignore the likes of Teddy Sheean and give them to the likes of Juliar Gillard?

  24. thefrollickingmole

    With a small amount of face saving waffle they could give this well deserved gong.
    But I do also appreciate the problems of giving decorations decades on.

    In effect we could expect poppies dipping into war records to make “hero’s” of themselves every time they took a dip in the polls.

  25. Read the requirements; this brave young sailor qualified on at least one (the final) but possibly all grounds.

    It is just bizarre to deny him the honour.

  26. cuckoo

    It’s simple, just get some historian to establish that Teddy Sheean was gay or identified as female or was genderqueer, pronoun-curious, etc. Posthumous VC coming right up!

  27. cuckoo

    With bar and rainbow ribbon!

  28. Top Ender

    For those saying we should not open a Pandora’s box etc…

    A VC for Sheean would go some way to remedying a system which denied VCs to people like him – and many more.

    The Navy has never been awarded a Victoria Cross.

    Check out the actions of Hec Waller, who received no medal at all, despite his command of HMAS Perth to the very end, fighting alongside USS Houston. The US ship commander received their highest award, the Medal of Honor. Our man received a Mention in Despatches – a badge surmounted on a medal – and that only after someone, ironically in the UK, noticed the paperwork had not been done.

    Check out the actions of Robert Rankin, commander of HMAS Yarra, the sole escort of a small convoy, who turned and faced the enemy in the shape of an overwhelming number of Japanese warships. The actions of “Buck” Taylor, gunner on one of the Yarra’s main guns, is unrecognised despite the same bravery as Sheean – staying at his gun despite the order of Abandon Ship, so he could defend his shipmates. Rankin, Taylor, and the rest of the ship’s company received NO recognition at all, as once again the paperwork was not done.

    This is outrageous, and for three-quarters of a century it has gone on. The heroes of Long Tan took decades to get their recognition, but at least they got it.

    Where is the Navy’s?

  29. C.L.

    Well said, Top Ender.
    Let’s not dress up incompetence and laziness as principle.

  30. Mother Lode

    Question is: What agenda or demographic is Reynolds prioritising above this act of heroism – I mean real heroism.

    It tells us what a small woman Reynolds is – that she could look at this case and say “Nah. Better if I don’t.”

  31. rickw

    What do they have to gain by being so stupid?

    This is the universal question that can be applied to all Australian Government decision making.

    Stupid is in the DNA of career politicians, they don’t operate outside of the boundary of stupid.

  32. liliana

    bureaucracy everywhere hates initiative

    This should be a liberty quote and so true. Initiative and lateral thinking are verboten and frowned upon. The quickest way not to get promoted is to suggest a better way of doing something which involves less bureaucracy.

    Morrison and most of the seat warmers in Canberra will never understand valour, duty, and love of mates and country.

    Very disappointing but hopefully Sheean will eventually get the recognition he deserves.

  33. Lee

    The “everyone’s a hero” culture hardly extends to storied and verified war-time acts of extreme heroism. I think you’re conflating phenomena.

    To paraphrase Mark Steyn, “when everyone’s a hero, no one’s a hero.”
    The treatment of Teddy Sheean is a disgrace.

  34. rickw

    Amazing how governments fall over themselves to correct “historical injustice” in other context but won’t do it for a conspicuous act of bravery.

    Sheehan’s mistake was not being a transgender aboriginal bravely manning a diversity stall at a local market whilst being subject to sideways glances by the punters.

  35. Mother Lode

    Public servants awarded many honours for just doing their duty. Paperwork is very trying.
    Meanwhile someone goes beyond the call of duty in combat is denied any honour.

    Every act of courage (taking out a machine gun nest, retrieving the wounded under fire, holding the enemy at bay while your comrades extract themselves from an desperate position at the cost of your own life), every act, is tarnished by its creating additional paperwork.

    It takes a special kind of myopia to be blind to the bureaucratic costs.

  36. Shy Ted

    ScoMo is in a category all of his own now.

  37. Entropy

    Just remember that just because you want to create a precedent to correct an ancient mistake, will mean some agenda driven progressive will use it to make a point about something else.

  38. Megan

    Disgraceful decision by Morrison and Reynolds. You can bet they will happily accept their OAMs in the future for doing absolutely nothing of any merit whatsoever.

  39. Bruce

    Maybe it would be more appropriate to name a serious combat ship in his honour.

    However, it is unlikely that the RAN will ever again commission a new, capable, blue-water fighting ship.

  40. Real Deal

    Let’s not dress up incompetence and laziness as principle.

    Agreed. There is a principle here and Teddy deserves the VC.

    BTW I didn’t know Dr Lewis was a Taswegian. Does that mean we have a bottom ender?😉

  41. John A

    C.L. #3458634, posted on May 20, 2020 at 10:36 am

    IT, it’s my understanding that the biggest ‘problem’ with a VC for Teddy is that it would assume – or be seen to imply – that the officer poobahs of yesteryear were somehow remiss in the matter.

    So? Isn’t that what the book demonstrates?

  42. Aynsley Kellow

    Bruce, the Navy has done just that: HMAS Sheean (SSG 77), as Collins Class submarine.

    This decision is both outrageous and incomprehensible. If Teddy Sheehan doesn’t deserve a VC for his courage, nobody does.

  43. Rex Anger

    @ Bruce- I dunno about that. The hardest part for the RAN is that it needs ships that can work equally well in both brown- and blue water environments. Regardless of history, tradition and shitty budgets inflicted by indifferent governments of all political stripes won’t change that.

    We will see what becomes of the proposed and incoming Hunter class corvettes. And the new frigates. I’d think that a decent fleet SSGNs and drone boats would qualify as blue water (and be mighty useful in ‘brown’ environments too) so long as they’re not French and being built by ASC…

    (Why we just did not leverage our alliance with the US to order some of their new Virginias and send our best and brightest to learn how to create a nuclear propulsion branch is beyond me…)

  44. kingsley

    I think we have 4 living VC recipients? Maybe let them decide? Hell they may even know something about the issue.

  45. Infidel Tiger King

    I think we have 4 living VC recipients?

    We are about jail one and probably strip him of the award.

    Things are going beautifully for the radical left.

  46. Infidel Tiger King

    Disgraceful decision by Morrison and Reynolds. You can bet they will happily accept their OAMs in the future for doing absolutely nothing of any merit whatsoever.

    After the French subs debacle they will probably be awarded The Legion of Honour too.

  47. UPDATE: BoJo ignores the red tape to arrange knighthood for 100 year-old fundraiser Colonel Tom Moore.

    Maybe someone should do the same for Australia’s equivalent public health system. Maybe everyone should also clap.

  48. Terry

    @DD
    #3458818, posted on May 20, 2020 at 2:49 pm
    ‘China may not like that.’

    Well, in that case, double the order of Virginias please Mr Trump!

    We’d still get plenty of change over what we intend to waste on French garbage.

  49. Ed Case

    Let’s say they cave and give Ted his V.C.
    Who’s next?
    It’s not as if there weren’t at least a few hundred others that mighta shoulda got the V.C.
    And then the hunt will be on for the Gay V.C., what about that nurse on the Centaur, where’s her V.C.?
    Has there ever been an Indigenous V.C. winner?
    Course not.
    Should there have been? It’s likely.
    What would Ted himself have to say about this political circus exploiting his good name?

  50. Suburban Boy

    1. The VC is a “decoration”, not an “honour”, so there is no comparability with the awards (AC, AO and so forth) given to pollies, public servants, judges, social workers and others whose contribution to the nation is often dubious.

    2. As bemused points out above, our Defence bosses have always been stingy in awarding medals. (During the world wars, canny Australian generals sometimes managed to get the British authorities to approve awards that would be denied by the Australian authorities.) At one level that is a systemic unjustice; but at another it gives a scarcity value to Australian decorations so that those who do receive them are entitled to even greater respect. Those who defame Ben Roberts-Smith, upon whom has been conferred the Decoration of the Victoria Cross, might take note.

    3. History is so full of injustices of all kinds that it would be folly to try to remedy them when they have no ongoing effect. Monash shouldn’t be a field marshal post mortem; he is better remembered as being simply Monash, our great leader, not just one more wearer of crossed batons. And Sheean shouldn’t get a VC at this distant remove.

    4. There are ways of showing due respect for people who are deserving of extraordinary recognition that don’t involve changing the rules after the event. Naming an RAN ship after Sheean is a good start, but even better would be including him in the Australian school curriculum so that every schoolchild learns who he was (and how many of them, or us, can name more than a handful of our VCs anyway?).

  51. To add to what Suburban Boy said and for those who couldn’t be bothered reading my link, Sheean has and will be remembered by those for whom he really means something:

    Recognition comes in many forms and, while we are here today to consider Teddy Sheean for our country’s highest award for valour in action, I cannot overstate the esteem in which the Navy holds him. He is recognised every day by our men and women.

    Over the last 20 years, more than 500 of our submariners have proudly worn Sheean’s name, everyday on their cap tally, and at least another 500 will do so in the years ahead. HMAS Sheean is the first and only ship in the Royal Australian Navy to bear the name of an Ordinary Seaman. Or the Ordinary Seaman Sheean Award for Gunnery given out from 1986 until the mid-1990s at Cerberus for the sailor with the best results on the quartermaster gunner/boatswains mate course. Of course, the iconic painting by Dale Marsh in 1978, proudly hanging in the Australian War Memorial. In 2003 the Australian Navy Cadet unit, NTS Sheean, was established in the Noosa Shire, and is now permanently located in Tewantin, Queensland.

    And of course, there are the Edward ‘Teddy’ Sheean Memorial and Sheean Walk, in his home town of Latrobe, as well as the Tasmanian Government’s Teddy Sheean Memorial Grants Program. His name is remembered through song and in books, some of the authors of which will join us for these hearings today and tomorrow. His face is on badges, sold by the RSL for its Annual ANZAC Appeal.

    For us, for every modern sailor and officer, it doesn’t matter what the outcome of the Tribunal hearing is: Teddy Sheean’s spirit is an enduring part of our Navy.

    We will continue to ensure his story lives on through our men and women and the work they do, as well as through the Australian War Memorial, the mechanism for acknowledging our Nation’s proud service history in conflict.

  52. Ed Case

    Great idea.
    Social Studies textbook in Qld Primary Schools in the 60s honoured John French V.C. Grace Darling, Florence Nightingale, there were quite a few.
    Perhaps the Tassie Gov’t should forget worrying about Safe Schools for a bit and start talking about Teddy Sheean?

  53. HT

    One of the big issues for Australia is we have a quota system for our higher awards. I think, and always believed during my service that Australia should adopt the US system: no quotas, if earn it you get it.

    The real problem for Sheean however is Navy was never renowned for its concern for Other Ranks, with Navy treated its Other Ranks with something approaching contempt, and that attitude only changed about 20 years ago when analysts worked out that a volunteer only Navy (ie, no conscripts), would have not enough people to service the fleet. Its a big reason women are so courted by Navy especially, to fill billets. Navy, like the RAAF, got hard-ons about their capital equipment – ie: they saw the Navy (and Airforce) in terms of capital equipment and “platforms”, personal didn’t figure that much in their calculus because Other Ranks were a “free” commodity. Compare that to Army where men were the “capital” of the service, and they therefore tended be recognised more readily for acts of valour.

    As an ex-servicemen though, I tend to agree with a few previous posts where historical revisions that award decorations runs against the grain. We stopped the nonsense about promoting retiring Staff Officers a promotion on their retirement day for the same reason, Monash didn’t get to be Field Marshal last year for the same reason (he deserved it, Blamey sure as hell didn’t!), and so on.

  54. Carl Johnson

    Read an account of Sheehan’s actions, now read Jacka’s VC citation: compare and contrast. Retrospective claims by units for battle honours and individuals for personal honours and awards lead to nothing but heartache and bitterness. Some deserving units and individuals will always be overlooked and I can think of several cases worse than Sheehan’s (e.g. 2nd Battalion, 1 AIF at Lone Pine). That’s life: move on.

  55. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    Social Studies textbook in Qld Primary Schools in the 60s honoured John French V.C. Grace Darling, Florence Nightingale, there were quite a few.

    Social Studies textbooks in Western Australia n the 1960’s honored Sir John Monash, the explorers of Western Australia and the pioneers, oh yes, and Grace Darling.

  56. Exit Stage Right

    This 18 year old gave his life for a just cause.
    Trying to stop the Japs machine-gunning his helpless mates in the water.
    Strapped himself to his gun so he wouldn’t be washed away as the Armidale sank beneath him.
    Tracer bullets still coming from under the water as he sank. Eye witness reports.
    What part of that scenario is not heroic. Worthy of further recognition other than posthumous “mention in dipatches”.
    But hey, one of our truly great heroes, Lt Gen David Morrison AO, was made Australian of the Year in 2016 for his “commitment to gender equality, diversity and inclusion”.
    You all remember this bloke, high heels and pink painted toenails.
    I know who my hero is.
    Shame on the people who make these decisions.

  57. HT

    Carl Johnson
    #3458961, posted on May 20, 2020 at 5:46 pm
    Read an account of Sheehan’s actions, now read Jacka’s VC citation: compare and contrast. Retrospective claims by units for battle honours and individuals for personal honours and awards lead to nothing but heartache and bitterness. Some deserving units and individuals will always be overlooked and I can think of several cases worse than Sheehan’s (e.g. 2nd Battalion, 1 AIF at Lone Pine). That’s life: move on.

    Yep.

  58. Jock

    If I recall, there is little doubt that Jacka deserved another VC on the Western front. But the “staff” didnt like that idea and he was awarded the Military Medal.

    However I am stunned that Sheean was not awarded a VC for his action. Im sure Jacka would have had a drink with him.

    Final thought, Its funny discussing this. With our huge immigration intake from India and China (who knows why) these histories will be forgotten in ten years.

  59. Ed Case

    Social Studies textbooks in Western Australia n the 1960’s honored Sir John Monash, the explorers of Western Australia and the pioneers, oh yes, and Grace Darling.

    Pretty sure Monash was in our Qld book, we also had some top explorers.
    Edmund Kennedy, the Cooktown blacks speared him, Alan Cunningham followed the black’s tracks into Qld down through Cunninghams Gap.
    Charles Harris [Sr] of the AIF was known for heading out into no mans land with no weapon just a heap of grenades.
    Of course he did have the advantage of being able to track and stalk, chuck a grenade a hell of a long way with accuracy, and be extremely hard to see at night. Not sure about any medals.
    He wasn’t in that Qld book tho.

  60. Eyrie

    “To every man upon this earth, death cometh soon or late;
    And how can man die better than facing fearful odds,
    For the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his Gods”

    Amen.
    I’m gobsmacked at Morro and Payne.
    At least Teddy Sheean made sure he had an honour guard.

  61. Roger

    A good book on the subject – “Honour Denied: Teddy Sheean: A Tasmanian Hero” by Dr Tom Lewis ex-naval officer and ex-Tasmanian.

    And frequent Cat contributor.

  62. Crossie

    Michael
    #3458694, posted on May 20, 2020 at 11:46 am
    I’d probably expect if from David Morrison, but from Scott Morrison?

    What’s the difference? Ah yes, ScoMo has not asked male MPs to wear high heel shoes to show their solidarity with female MPs.

  63. Roger

    We are about jail one and probably strip him of the award.

    VC can’t be stripped.

    King George V saw to that.

  64. I don’t get Sub Boy’s argument.

    *There are injustices…*

    That’s the point.

    Is Monash unworthy to be our 1st Field Marshal?

    It would be fitting as Blamey was his offsider. Monash planned Hamel for example with Blamey.

    Sheehan is a textbook case to earn a VC.

    If he doesn’t deserve it, that pretty much only leaves Jacka who was almost superhuman.

  65. Arthur

    I believe the V.C. can be stripped from a recipient for Treason or Cowardice.

    Churchill saw to that.

  66. davefromweewaa

    Dunno about that Mr sedition. I think Harry Murray deserved a bar to his VC.

  67. Hay Stockard

    Interesting to see that the Public Service Medal has precedence over a number of gallantry awards. Not saying that the Public Service are over entitled self serving grubs. Not at all. Nor the bureaucrats at the high levels of the services

  68. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    Churchill saw to that.

    Did Churchill actually have a V.C. holder stripped of his award?

  69. Ed Case

    No, all the stripees were in the Victorian era. Wiki has a bit on it.
    Most of them were for petty theft, one bloke ran into a nasty judge after saving a moll who was being strangled.
    Basically, 19th century England was a bastard of a place for 99% of it’s people

  70. Suburban Boy

    My point is that injustices which are not ongoing, which don’t concern anyone living, are best studied by the historians – like Dr Tom Lewis – and our youth taught of them by patriotic schoolteachers (there are surely dozens still around) rather than by politicians and bureaucrats exercising dubious judgement far, far too late.

    Monash is dead and it is too late to give him a pointless promotion (to Australians he is John Monash, more than a mere field marshal like Birdwood, Blamey or Edinburgh), but it is never too late to celebrate his virtues and to hold him up as an example for future generations. Ditto Sheean and his non-awarded VC.

    Nearly two million Australians have served our country in war, and more than 100,000 have died doing so. It would be the work of Sisyphus to try to make a fair account decades later of the relative merits of their actions: all of them deserve a measure of praise and respect; but let those who deserve special honour be chosen by the judgement of history rather than institutional prejudice and whim.

    “Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us, rather than heap on them medals and promotions they will never see,” as Ecclesiasticus might have put it.

  71. Top Ender

    I believe the V.C. can be stripped from a recipient for Treason or Cowardice.

    The awards of eight Victoria Cross recipients were forfeited between 1861 and 1908. Since 1920 when King George V expressed strong objections to the use of the forfeiture power no further awards have been forfeited. The power to cancel and restore awards is still included in the Victoria Cross warrant. The power to restore a forfeited award has never been exercised.

    – Michael Ashcroft. Victoria Cross Heroes Volume II, 2016,

  72. Pyrmonter

    Late to the thread, but

    IT, it’s my understanding that the biggest ‘problem’ with a VC for Teddy is that it would assume – or be seen to imply – that the officer poobars of yesteryear were somehow remiss in the matter.

    Well, isn’t that right? Shouldn’t we accept the prevailing standards at the time the award should have been made? All these campaigns (the Americans seem to run them a lot – various proposals to give posthumous promotions to generals etc) smack of wanting to re-write history, the way a bunch on the ‘Left’ wanted to regarding the Great War cowardice executions.

    We can agree that those were a bad thing, and something we certainly couldn’t imagine happening now, but the retrospective pardons do nothing for those convicted, and reflect popular (populist) modern judgment on those who tried and condemned them within the prevailing norms of civilised nations.

  73. C.L.

    Well, isn’t that right? Shouldn’t we accept the prevailing standards at the time the award should have been made?

    You’re conflating administrative ineptitude with “prevailing standards [for adjudging worthiness for a VC] at the time.” I have no problem with posthumous pardons for the executed “cowards” of WWI. Conservatives should always prefer a view of these matters wherein the innate malice and/or incompetence of the state is taken as read.

  74. HT

    davefromweewaa
    #3459072, posted on May 20, 2020 at 7:08 pm
    Dunno about that Mr sedition. I think Harry Murray deserved a bar to his VC.

    Queen Victoria knitted scarves for “distinguished” soldiers, which many valued more than a VC (it never was a replacement for a VC of course, but a highly valued token!). From memory she personally knitted 8. I reckon if someone earned two VC’s, then the sovereign knitting a scarf would be just the shot 🙂

    Sorry, little known but interesting factoid…the scarfs personally knitted by Queen Victoria, not my opinion:)

  75. HT

    Exit Stage Right
    #3458973, posted on May 20, 2020 at 5:57 pm

    Tracer bullets still coming from under the water as he sank. Eye witness reports.

    Sorry, not possible. I empathise with the sentiment but a retelling that includes an impossibility detracts from the supporting narrative.

  76. Hay Stockard

    C.L.,
    The State is not nebulous. It is administered by individuals. You don’t get to the top of the dung heap by being nice. There are people in high places that despise the hoi polloi. There lies your malice. And it trickles down.

  77. Top Ender

    Did Sheean’s 20mm gun fire underwater?

    It has been suggested that in the last few seconds of the corvette HMAS Armidale’s final fight against Japanese aircraft north of Darwin on 1 December 1941, that one of her Oerlikon AA guns was firing while the ship was still under water. In his book on Sheean, Top Ender presents the analysis.

    The second-last day Armidale was to sail the seas was fine and clear, by night as well as day. It was an ideal opportunity for a Japanese reconnaissance aircraft to try its hand at night bombing. Lieutenant Lloyd Palmer recalled:

    The voyage was without incident until about 0200 the next morning (Nov. 30th) when a Jap recce plane was sighted. This plane dropped four bombs which fell very close to Armidale, and then made off.

    This was to set the tone as the day of 30 November dawned. Armidale’s ship’s company went to Action Stations again and again, the alarms ringing and every man racing to his station, cramming his helmet on and readying the guns, with the gunners opening fire as soon as they had swung their weapons onto the target, using their own judgement as to when to depress the triggers. Rex Pullen later recounted:

    The Oerlikon gun you could sweep around on the deck and follow right round. It was defence against aircraft and I was a loader on one of those, I was on the starboard one, which was right under the bridge and we were quite conversant with what was happening in the ship as we could hear what the orders given on the bridge. Every ace cannon shell, that you put in these, a 20 ml thing that cannon show about as thick as your thumb, which was made to pierce aircraft, pretty powerful, you have to get the kites down low enough to be of any use. So we were only able to use them when the aircraft were low.

    Teddy Sheean was on the aft Oerlikon, that is, closest to the stern. He too would have been busy. The gun crew alternated positions when they could, partly for experience, and partly to relieve the heavy physical exercise. The crew of four were the main gunner, in behind the gun in a harness fitted with waist-belt and shoulder supports. The second member, the gun chief, designated the targets, and the third crew sailor ¬– the “feeder” – removed the empty 60-round magazines as necessary, and fitted in new ones. The fourth member was responsible for getting the range from a ship’s telephone, connected to a headset, and adjusting the sights, although this was usually not possible in quick, short aircraft engagements. Trips nearby to the ready use lockers to retrieve new magazines were necessary depending on how busy the gun was.

    The barrel of the gun could also be changed in around 30 seconds, and this was necessary when extensive firing had been engaged in. Stoppages also had to be quickly dealt with. The gun was very reliable, but complicated, and it needed a trained crew to operate it quickly.

    Added to the hard physical work of training it, firing, removing and replacing the magazines, was the added tension and fear of what failure could mean. The metal shield and the crews’ metal helmets were not much protection, and the ship’s company by now had seen enough action; enemy aircraft – both bombers and fighters; and heard a multiplicity of stories about what could happen to them. For most, in their hearts they would have been afraid.

    In between engagements against aircraft the crews were not allowed to leave their positions, and indeed the main gunner stayed ready in the harness with the weapon loaded. This meant that the whole crew ate when they could, usually sandwiches, and drank warm water from canteens. During the engagements they were deafened by the explosions of the gun firing, the two other Oerlikons fitted to the bridge wings, and the machineguns mounted further forward of themselves.

    Air Defence for Warships

    Dealing with a swarm of hostile aircraft was a very new aspect of combat for Armidale and other warships around the world in 1942. Around a year before the corvette was sunk, military experts everywhere had to adjust their perspectives on how these new aerial weapons worked against seapower.

    Two great powerful warships, the Royal Navy vessels Prince of Wales and Repulse – a battleship and a battlecruiser, were sunk by a horde of Japanese aircraft in an engagement of just a few hours. But in 1939, at the commencement of the war, aircraft were not seen to be the definitive killer of ships: that was still the province of the big gun vessel, and so the battleship rather than the aircraft carrier was “the capital ship.”

    Aircraft themselves contributed towards the misunderstanding. World War I had seen substantial developments in both fighters and bombers, but the fighters fought each other or attacked bombers, and the bombers generally attacked land targets with small weapons without the enormous effects which would be seen in WWII. The machines themselves were flimsy; often their airframes were built of wood and the sides covered in fabric. Their limited range meant warships at sea were also generally out of reach.

    As with much technology though, aircraft improved steadily as a result of “group think” – many manufacturers and designers working apart but quick to catch ideas developed by the industry as a whole. The development of torpedoes slung underneath aircraft, and more powerful bombs, together with more effective aiming, gave credence to the possibility of punching holes in the surfaces of ships. The Germans developed the dive bomber and practised with it in the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s.

    The best defence against attacking aerial enemies was in fact defending aircraft themselves, carried along on aircraft carriers. (The concept of supplying air cover from land – even today occasionally resurrected – is ridiculous; they never arrive when the navy needs them, and the warships are restricted to operating within their range.)

    In Armidale’s case the ship’s tormentors even combined to attack from several angles at once, and this meant the ship’s guns were simply insufficient in quantity and they were ineffective in quality. The main foredeck gun, manually aimed rather than from a central director point, was not able to angle up enough to attack aircraft. Its rate of fire – perhaps 10-14 rounds a minute, depending on a crew’s expertise – was unable to deal with a dozen or so aircraft, although if ever one was hit one the size of the shell was more than enough to guarantee a kill.

    The best AA measures were the quick firing weapons such as the Oerlikon, with its large 20mm round most effective if it caught an aircraft in its vitals or hit the pilot. The heavy machinegun – the .50 calibre – also had a spread of shot, a big enough calibre, and sufficient muzzle velocity to do good damage to an aircraft. It was rather like using a shotgun against the flying machines, but it was a big shotgun: smaller calibres such as .303 didn’t do enough damage.

    Warships after World War II moved steadily into the missile age, and aircraft moved with them, with semi-intelligent weapons delivered well out of range of the ships’ guns. The ships developed their own anti-aircraft weapons for both long range and close-in defence, including automatic ship guns. But the old systems remain viable, especially when sophisticated technology fails. The .50 machinegun, in use on Armidale, was in popular use in the RN flotilla attacking the Argentine-held Falkland islands in 1982, for example.

    Although automated weapons such as Phalanx and Goalkeeper, which deliver high-speed blasts of projectiles are popular, the human-manned “fifty-cal” is still a reliable anti-aircraft weapon.

    “The .50 caliber machine gun has proven to be a dependable, effective weapon against Japanese aircraft. This weapon was generally credited with eliminating extremely low altitude attacks against our installations by Japanese aircraft.”
    Lieutenant Colonel Robert Totten, Air Corps, South Pacific Area, 1942

    .50 Caliber Browning M2 Machine Gun
    Muzzle Velocity: 2,900 feet/second (M2 ammo); 2,800 feet/second (M1 ammo)
    Breech: Automatic (must be cocked before first firing)
    Maximum Rate of Fire: 600 rounds/minute (450 rounds/minute for HB guns)
    Elevation Limits: +10º to 90º (depending on mount used)
    Recoil Type: Spring
    Fire Control: Individual Tracer
    Maximum Effective Slant Range: 600 yards
    Maximum Effective Horizontal Range: 1,800 yards
    Maximum Effective Vertical Range: 1,700 yards

    “The .50 caliber machine gun has proven a most excellent weapon against low-flying aircraft, and German attack aviation appears to dislike it intensely. These weapons interspersed along a column will force enemy aircraft to stay so high that casualties inflicted by [the aircraft] will be negligible.”
    Major General Walton H. Walker, IV Armored Corps, North Africa, June 1943.

    Armidale’s records record her on the afternoon of 1 December being attacked by five aircraft. Lieutenant Palmer said of the action:

    This time, however, they altered their tactics. On the previous day, the bombing had all been from about four thousand feet, and our Captain had easily avoided every stick. But now they started to dive-bomb, which was rather a different story. However, we were still not hit, although the intensity of the attacks increased with every wave.

    But at around 1430 that afternoon the corvette was subjected to a more vigorous attack which was to include torpedo bombers attacking simultaneously at opposing angles, a new factor which was first scrutinised by Bradford. They were Betty twin-engine machines carrying one massive torpedo each.

    At 1450 Richards registered the sighting of the incoming force of 13 aircraft and increased the ship’s speed to her full 15 knots. At 1505 the aircraft took up their attacking positions, and Richard commenced zig-zagging the vessel to throw off the bombardier’s aim.

    This was confirmed by the analysis of the later Board of Inquiry. At 1515 (3:15 pm) Armidale was under full attack, according to the later inquiry: “9 bombers and 3 fighters took part.” The fighters strafed the ship with their guns, while the bombers made approaches to release their main ordnance. Lieutenant Palmer later put the force as being 13 aircraft rather than 12, and he said they approached “from five directions – nine bombers, three Zeros and a float plane, attacking simultaneously with aerial torpedoes, bombs and machine guns.”

    The Japanese tactics had been analysed by the Allies. They were made up as follows:

    Daylight torpedo bombing approaches are usually made in close formation at medium altitude.

    Attacks may be made in a wedge or loose diamond formation, or in small groups which separate to attack individual objectives from different directions.

    Glides are made at an angle of 40 to 45°, and torpedoes are dropped from an altitude of 200 to 300 feet at a range from 500 to 1,200 yards from the target.

    Approaches are planned from the direction where the least concentration of antiaircraft fire may be expected. Full advantage is taken of the position of the sun and cloud formations.

    The corvette’s defence would have seen her not only maneuvering to put off the bombers’ aim, but also to open her guns’ arcs of fire to their best advantage. If the bombers were approaching from the bow or stern in line, for example, this would give them the best chance of hitting the ship: lengthwise, rather than from one side to the other. It would also minimize the anti-aircraft fire coming up in attack, as the ship’s superstructure would have masked most of the guns’ ability to fire and the gunners’ vision of their target.

    While the aircraft crews knew of such practices to assist their strike rate and set their attack runs accordingly, so too did the ship’s company below. Not only was Armidale violently changing her track to throw off the aircraft runs, she was also maneuvering to open the gunners’ arcs of fire to the maximum, giving them the ability to hit the aircraft with all possible fire. The guns each worked independently, filling the skies full of lead, firing by direct visual means, not as bigger ships did by director fire, with targeting information provided from a central location and all guns firing together. This was a small ship with limited firepower fighting for her life.

    At 1430 a chutai of nine Bettys led by Lieutenant Ogino attacked Armidale in a low level torpedo run using Type 91 Kai torpedoes. These massive weapons, painted red and green according to Stoker Ray Raymond who saw one in its final seconds before impact, weighed around 800 kilograms each.

    Aircraft flying in protective cover over Armidale would have lessened the attack or even prevented it. But although airpower had changed World War I; was changing in World War II, and has significant still-changing impact on the face of conflict today, it cannot be everywhere all the time.

    Ship’s company gunner Rex Pullen commented on this succinctly:

    We were totally I s’pose 400 km from Australia we had no air support because by the time the kites could fly across from Darwin across to there, spend ten minutes with us cos it has got no petrol and has to get back and so we were restricted and didn’t get any air support and while the Japanese were all air, we had nothing to defend ourselves with.

    And Commanding Officer Richards recorded in his ROP bitterly: “No Fighter support was present at any of the bombing attacks…”

    In addition to this the aircraft were armed with torpedoes, a significant new weapon that had not been used in the region. Each Betty bomber aircraft carried one on the aircraft’s centreline. They were an 800 kilogram model.

    Further, this was the first time that torpedo bombers had been seen in this area, so their assault would have been completely unexpected. For example, no torpedoes had been dropped during the devastating attacks on Darwin on 19 February, or during subsequent attacks in the vicinity.

    The Japanese accounts show what weapons were used: a combination of bombs, with an all up weight of ten tonnes, and torpedoes. Armidale was doomed if the aircrews knew their job – and by this time the Japanese forces in the south-west Pacific area were all well-blooded and expert in their skills. Further, new aircrews might well be deterred by being fired on by ship artillery, the experienced aircrews and such a massive ordnance load meant the aircraft would keep coming until they scored hits and sunk their target.
    Armidale’s last action would have seen the ship heeling to the extreme as Richards and the bridge team conned the ship at speed through the bomb bursts. The Oerlikon roar of steady 20mm fire would have been counterbalanced by the scream of the machine-guns rattling away, the gunners and loaders all fighting for balance as the ship’s steel deck tilted and pitched underneath them.

    It was a beautiful afternoon of blue sky and calm seas, with Nature serene as the humans scattered across the face of the skies and ocean fought it out between the two sides of Empire versus Empire. It was perfect flying and sailing weather, and neither side would retreat.

    When the aircraft were first sighted, Richards held his course steady watching to find out what the attackers would do. At 1505 the Japanese began to attack from three different directions, in three groups of three. Richards then maneuvered Armidale with a short zigzag and also ordered full port wheel at the time he judged that the attacking aircraft were at their dropping points, but to no avail. Armidale was hit by a torpedo on the port side just forward of the bridge.

    A minute later the corvette was hit again on the port side, between the engine room and the boiler room. A third torpedo from the port side missed ahead. A fourth torpedo missed astern, and a fifth torpedo passed over the bridge. The conventional bombs were still coming as well, with one narrowly missing the ship on the starboard side.

    It probably was the case that the ship was struck by two torpedoes and possibly one bomb. The summary of information furnished by the Chief of the Naval Staff to the War Cabinet Agenda on 12 January 1943 specified that Armidale was “hit by a torpedo.” Notably there was use of the singular here, and no mention of bombing or strafing.

    The immediate actions after the fatal impact

    Signalman of the Watch Arthur Lansbury was on the bridge. He said: “When the first one hit, it threw me to the deck, and when I got on my feet again, I raced to the voicepipe down to the radio room to try to send out a distress message, but couldn’t raise them.”
    Lansbury found out later that a piece of shrapnel had gone straight through the radio set. This unfortunate damage meant that Armidale’s situation would remain unknown: not that any aircraft could have reached her in time to help, but the rescue situation was going to be dangerously compromised.

    Able Seaman Jack Duckworth was on the quarterdeck of the corvette, and recalled being:

    …swept away by the water rushing through. I grabbed a depth charge thrower, and managed to get back on my feet. I got to work cutting everything that would float loose. While we were letting go the motor boat, Jap fighters machine gunned us…several boys were hit with cannon fire. We eventually got the boat away, and jumped into the water. We’d just dropped astern when another torpedo hit her amidships…smoke and oil went everywhere.

    The explosions had been massive. Many of the Dutch soldiers were killed in the area of impact. There has always been confusion over who died, until now. The next chapter details how this has been resolved with this book’s publication.

    Armidale began sinking fast, and it was now that Teddy Sheean determined to stay on and fight.
    Ordinary Seaman RM Caro wrote later:

    Teddy died, but none of us who survived, I am sure, will ever forget his gallant deed which won him a Mention in Despatches. He was a loader number on the after Oerlikon gun. When the order “Abandon Ship” was given, he made for the side, only to be hit twice by the bullets of an attacking Zero. None of us will ever know what made him do it, but he went back to his gun, strapped himself in, and brought down a Jap plane, still firing as he disappeared beneath the waves.

    The Gunnery Officer, Lieutenant Palmer, gave a brief but clear account, and as the senior man on board in charge of the ship’s weapons, his is one of the most significant.

    Ord. Seaman Ted Sheean was responsible for one plane in the last attack. He was a loading number at the after Oerlikon, and when the order was given to abandon ship, he made for the side, but was wounded by a machine gun bullet. He returned to his gun, and started firing again, bringing down one plane, but was again wounded and went down with the ship. Sheean received a ‘Mention in Despatches’.

    Armidale’s CO, Lieutenant Commander Richards, wrote later in his Report of Proceedings: “Ordinary Seaman Edward Sheean, although wounded, remained at his post at the after Oerlikon, and was responsible for bringing down one enemy bomber. He continued firing until he was killed at his gun.”

    Long after the war, the political leader Senator Chris Schacht expressed those last moments well when he said in Parliament: “From the moment he took the decision to strap himself into the gun mount Sheean must have known he was not going to survive. His actions were pure, selfless heroism.” Schacht’s comments were typical of people from all sides of politics who have discovered the Sheean story and determined that here was a naval hero.

    Crew member Ray Raymond said “the after section righted itself from the tilt and the after oerlikon [sic] came into sight being manned by Ted Sheehan [sic] who was still firing the gun which resulted in him shooting down one Japanese plane and damaging possibly two others.”

    Colin Madigan said:

    My action station was on the bridge in the asdic cabinet and when the order ‘Abandon ship’ was given I had difficulty extricating myself because of my Mae West, which was inflated. I could hear Teddy Sheean’s Oerlikon firing all the time, and when I eventually got into the water, I saw his tracer shells coming up from under the surface. He had gone down with the ship, still fighting.

    The writer Frank Walker interviewed Leading Seaman Arthur Lansbury at length:

    Lansbury: When I was going around I saw Teddy Sheean go back and strap himself into the Oerlikon and start…

    Walker: That’s the thing I want to talk about and specifically what you saw of Sheean. He would have been on the Oerlikon deck.

    Lansbury: He was abandoning ship and I thought he was hit but Teddy (Pellet) told me he was on the way back to the gun.

    Walker: Where was he hit do you know?

    Lansbury: There (pointing towards his back). He went back and strapped himself into the Oerlikon.

    Walker: So he must have known then he was going down with the ship.

    Lansbury: Oh yes.

    Walker: Because those Oerlikons fitted right round your shoulders and once you strapped your shoulders into them you couldn’t get out.

    Lansbury: Yes. As the ship went down he was still firing as the ship went under.

    Walker: Someone has told me he could see the tracers coming from under the water.

    Lansbury: He just kept firing as the ship went down. He just kept his fingers on it and that was that.

    Walker: How long would he have been firing?

    Lansbury: It is hard to tell.

    Walker: He didn’t have much time. It took only three minutes for the ship to go down.

    Walker (to [Able Seaman Ted] Pellet): did you see Sheean too?

    Pellet: I did. Sheehan and I were both together. We made for the motorboat. I had a tommy-axe in my hand and I chopped the after fall and Sheean was right alongside me. They were strafing us at the time. He was going to get into the motor-boat with me. He was right alongside me then he made a decision to go back and have a go at them…

    Historian Graham Wilson has argued that Sheean could only have shot for between 16-33 seconds. He bases this assumption on the argument that the Oerlikon was fed by two 60 round magazines, and the rate of fire from the weapon was 450 rounds per minute at its maximum. Therefore at the maximum rate of fire the gun would have been out of its ammunition in 16 seconds, or at its slowest rate of fire in 33 seconds.

    However, there is no reason to assume Sheean would have fired off all his ammunition, as Wilson implies “if he maintained a constant stream of fire.” Rather, he could – and would – have saved it for available targets. Wilson suggests too that: “This begs the question, where did he get the extra ammunition from? There is not a single statement to the effect that Sheean was seen to reload his Oerlikon, nor that anyone stayed aboard to assist him as loader.”

    But then again, the ship section Sheean was firing from was not that readily seen by the survivors, and in any case, Sheean could have reloaded from nearby ammunition drums. Near him were “ready-use lockers”, basically big watertight boxes in which equipment, including ammunition was stored. Crewman Alf Thornton, associated for many years with the museum ship Castlemaine – an identical corvette – says that both Castlemaine and HMAS Goulburn, in which he served from 1943-45, utilised ready-use lockers in those positions.

    The suggestions that Sheean continued firing from beneath the water must be treated as exaggeration where it is encountered. Firstly, of course Sheen could have only held his breath for an extremely brief period; perhaps 10-20 seconds. Second, the mechanical possibility of Sheean firing the Oerlikon from under the water was analysed by the tribunal. It concluded:

    The Tribunal reviewed the operating manuals and drawings of the gun.

    In its research, the Tribunal observed that the gun cycle is operated by gas blowback. As each round fires, gas pressure from the explosion blows the breech block backward from the chamber, ejecting the expended cartridge case during its travel. At full recoil, it is either stopped by the trigger hook or it continues its cycle by collecting a new round from the magazine and returning it to the chamber to fire; and so the cycle continues until the trigger is released. This cycle will not operate automatically if the breech block is submerged, due to the combined effect of water resistance slowing the breech block travel, and the significant reduction in the available pressure delivered by the gas.

    There is no question that Sheean was firing as Armidale was sinking, but, as mentioned above, the mechanical nature of the Oerlikon would not sustain an ability to fire from under water. Observers, viewing the action from the surface of the water, could have been misled into believing that the Oerlikon was firing by the effect of the strafing from enemy aircraft, which continued after Armidale had sunk.

    In summary, it was not possible to Sheean’s gun to fire under water, but there seems every evidence he fired until the last second possible.

    (This extract is taken from Honour Denied: Teddy Sheean, Tasmania Hero , published by Avonmore Books)

  78. HT

    Top Ender
    #3459339, posted on May 21, 2020 at 2:18 am
    Did Sheean’s 20mm gun fire underwater?…

    LOL. So after a forensic analysis, the author agrees there was no firing from underwater. I was a soldier for 20 years – no forensics needed, it’s just shit soldiers know.

    But thx for excerpt Top Ender 🙂

  79. Ed Case

    Senator Chris Schacht started all this.
    Political advantage trumps letting a man rest in peace every time for the ALP.
    The wiki entry is brief, but you get the picture.

  80. Ed Case

    Link no good, try this one, here’s a sample: Schacht is also the chairman of the Australia China Development Company.[9]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Schacht

  81. Ed Case

    One last time:
    *** Christopher Cleland Schacht (born 6 December 1946) is a former Australian politician and member of the South Australian branch of the Australian Labor Party (ALP). He was born in Melbourne and educated at the University of Adelaide and Wattle Park Teachers College.

    Career
    Schacht’s political career started as a state party official in 1969 during the Don Dunstan era. In 1987, he entered Federal Parliament as a Labor Party Senator for South Australia. He was Minister for Science and Small Business and Minister assisting the Prime Minister for Science in the Keating Labor Government from March 1993 to March 1994 and then Minister for Small Business, Customs and Construction until Labor’s defeat at the 1996 election. He left the parliament in June 2002 after 15 years as a Senator and 33 years in Australian politics.[1][2]

    Post parliamentary career
    In 2006, Senator Robert Ray said of Schacht’s “long-winded critiques” of factionalism within the Labor party that “no-one practised factionalism harder than he did. But once he lost influence in his own faction, he condemned all factions.”[3] Schacht has openly criticised the influence that he believes trade unions have within the Labor party.[4]

    Schacht has supported uranium mining and the prospect of nuclear waste storage in South Australia. He told ABC’s Stateline in 2006 that storing the world’s nuclear waste “may be the safest thing we can do for the world. Secondly, the world will pay a large amount of money in the future for some place like Australia or outback South Australia to store nuclear waste safely in a safe, in a geologically sound area, with a stable political system.”[5]

    In 2008 Schacht was appointed as a Director of Marathon Resources.[6] The company’s exploration for uranium in Arkaroola later became a subject of controversy. A series of environmental breaches resulted in the revocation of the company’s exploration license and the establishment of the Arkaroola Protection Zone.[citation needed]

    As of 2015, Schacht is a registered political lobbyist in South Australia. His clients include Pilatus Australia Pty Ltd, Liebherr Australia, PMB Defence Pty Ltd and Basetec Services Pty Ltd.[7] Former clients include VIPAC Engineers and Scientists Ltd.[8] Schacht is also the chairman of the Australia China Development Company.[9]

    Schacht is the President of the Australian Volleyball Federation. In October 2006, he was elected to the Legal Commission of the FIVB (Federation Internationale de Volleyball) for a four-year term.[10]

    References
    “Biography for Schacht, the Hon. Christopher (Chris) Cleland”. Parliament of Australia. Archived from the original on 15 September 2007. Retrieved 21 November 2007. ***

  82. Perhaps just a final thought on this matter. If we now start to change what were the standards of yesteryear to the desired standards of today, what other things do we start altering? How far back do we go to accommodate those who disagree with the past? To the first landing on Australian soil?

  83. Top Ender

    Hey bemused, I don’t see that one follows the other.

    The “floodgates” argument doesn’t work for me.

    The RAN was hard done by, yes. A Sheean VC can act as a symbol to acknowledge that, I reckon.

  84. Hey bemused, I don’t see that one follows the other.

    I’m talking in broad terms. This particular issue is about someone being supposedly unfairly treated/recognised in the past and therefore people feel that the injustice should be correct in the present.

    When you set precedents, they will invariably be used by others at a later date. It’s always the unintended consequences that are overlooked.

  85. HT

    The RAN weren’t hard done by Top Ender. They were too lazy/unconcerned/didn’t give a toss/“to busy” or whatever. RAN always was, still is all about thier ships and Captains, sailors didn’t rate (see what I did there 🙂 )

    Now, if a ship could get a medal, then…

  86. Habib

    I usually abhor these things long after the event, however Sheehan’s courage was largely ignored at the time. That said, at the time it was extraordinary for a pusser or blue orchid to have a whiff of a VC, despite many episodes of valour. Awards then and now are largely army-centric, and top-heavy.

  87. Pyrmonter

    @ CL

    It all seems reminiscent of the campaign to exonerate Harry Morant. The man was a war criminal.

  88. jupes

    I’ve long been an advocate of the pandora’s box theory and certainly don’t trust the government not to award medals based on a person’s position on the victimhood totem pole rather than the act of valour.

    However the Navy definitely has been gypped regarding VCs and there is no doubt at all that Teddy Sheehan deserves a VC.

    Then we have the government establishing a committee which unanimously approves the award only to have the government lie about the reasons for not accepting their recommendation. What was the point of that?

    I have now changed my mind. Give Sheehan his award you pillocks.

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