Exactly 80 years after his death in battle, World War II hero Teddy Sheean’s life will form part of a new online exhibition about the Royal Australian Navy.
Tasmania-born Ordinary Seaman Sheean was two years ago awarded Australia’s highest military honour, the Victoria Cross, after a lengthy campaign.
Sheean died aged 18 on December 1, 1942 when the HMAS Armidale was sunk by Japanese bombers in the Timor Sea, killing 100 men.
He strapped himself to an anti-aircraft gun and fired at enemy planes as the ship went down, and is credited with helping save the lives of 49 crewmates.
Sheean’s short life is one of several remembered in an exhibition accessible via the Australian War Memorial website.
It features excerpts from a letter by Sheean, believed to be the last he penned.
“I must say cheerio and best wishes for the present,” it reads.
The exhibition commemorates navy people through their own stories, said Royal Australian Navy Commander Andy Schroder, who is the Australian War Memorial’s Navy Fellow.
It covers colonial navies and both world wars, recent conflicts in the Middle East and contemporary peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.
It also features a new donation to the Australian War Memorial, a 7.8 metre-long Chinese-built Iraqi silkworm missile captured by divers during the First Gulf War which is being shown for the first time.
“It was captured by the Royal Australian Navy during the First Gulf War in 1991 from Iraq and is an important insight to our recent history,” the memorial’s senior curator David Pearson said.
“Many navy objects are very large and there are limitations when it comes to fitting into galleries.”