An expert panel convened in July to determine whether Teddy Sheean should be awarded a Victoria Cross accessed never-before-seen documentation of his heroic actions.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday announced he had recommended to Queen Elizabeth that Ordinary Seaman Sheean be posthumously awarded the highest miliary honour.
The Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal in May recommended Ordinary Seaman Sheean be awarded a VC after a 2019 inquiry.
The federal government refused the recommendation.
The decision received significant public and political backlash which led Mr Morrison to convene an expert panel to determine whether there was compelling new evidence for a posthumous award.
Panel member Brendan Nelson said he came to the investigation with an open mind but a disposition not to support a retrospective award.
“Awarding a Victoria Cross eight decades after the events is something that should not be entered into lightly and only when the evidence is compelling,” he said.
Dr Nelson said the panel itself found new evidence to support a VC award for Ordinary Seaman Sheean, based on records kept by the National Institute for Defence Studies in Toyko.
He said the records contained meticulous detail on the six minutes between the attack from Japanese bombers and the sinking of HMAS Armidale.
Dr Nelson said the records showed Ordinary Seaman Sheean had initially obeyed orders to abandon ship, but at the last minute, decided to respond to the attack.
He said the attacking aircraft sustained fire from the ship; two of which were damaged.
Braddon Liberal MHA Gavin Pearce said he had long believed Ordinary Seaman Sheean deserved higher recognition than Mentioned in Dispatches.
“This decision rightfully bestows appropriate recognition of his acts of gallantry,” he said.
“Throughout this process, it was vital that the sanctity and the dignity of the awarding of the Victoria Cross were maintained, as well as the good conduct and character of Ordinary Seaman Sheean.
“If believe that this rigorous examination has done that.”
Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie also supported the decision.
No matter how messy, and how stupid, and how pigheaded this whole process to get here has been, I don’t care,” she said.
“I am just so thankful we got here at all.
“It’s taken too long, and it’s cost us too much, and it’s been a fight for his family that family should have to put up with, but we have got there.
“This decision today gets right what the Prime Minister got so badly wrong.”
Teddy Sheean will be awarded with a posthumous Victoria Cross if approved by Queen Elizabeth.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently convened an expert panel to determine whether there was compelling new evidence provided to another review last year by the Defence Honours and Awards Appeal Tribunal.
The tribunal in May had recommended a VC be awarded but this was knocked back by the federal government.
Mr Morrison on Monday said the panel had determined there in fact was compelling new evidence for the commendation of a VC to Ordinary Seaman Sheean and this would be supported by the government.
Born in Latrobe, Teddy Sheean was 18 years old when he died onboard HMAS Armidale in 1942.
History shows he jumped on an Oerlikon gun to fire at Japanese aircraft to defend his shipmates as the ship sunk.