No VC's to Royal Australian Navy officers or ratings ever

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by spidge, Jul 13, 2009.

  1. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    From:Ahoy - Mac's Web Log - The Victoria Cross at Sea

    Over the total existence of the Royal Australian Navy, no Officer or Sailor has ever been awarded a Victoria Cross. There seems little doubt if the George Cross had not been instituted, Officers from our Naval Reserve such as Syme, involved in Mine Clearance and Delousing in UK, during WW2, would have won a VC.
    Many believe, as do I, that the following three RAN personnel, were all worthy of nomination for the award of a Victoria Cross, but, it did not happen, all died in action for their Navy and their country.


    Many believe, as do I, that the following three RAN personnel, were all worthy of nomination for the award of a Victoria Cross, but, it did not happen, all died in action for their Navy and their country.
    1. Captain H.E.C. Waller RAN, in HMAS Perth, with USS Houston in their fight against overwhelming odds with the Japanese Navy, in the Battle of Sunda Straits in March of 1942.
    2. Lieutenant Commander R.W.Rankin RAN, in HMAS Yarra, a small sloop, escorting two Transports, out of Java in March of 1942, ran into 3 Japanese Cruisers and two Destroyers, the end was all too predictable, as Rankin fought his ship until she was sunk, as were the Transports.
    3. Ordinary Seaman Teddy Sheehan in HMAS Armidale, an 800 ton Australian built Minesweeper, fired his AA gun at Japanese aircraft until his ship sank beneath him. (The Sheehan story is told else where on my site, under Death of HMAS Armidale.)
     
  2. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    From: Ahoy - Mac's Web Log - The Death of HMAS Armidale

    The Death of HMAS Armidale

    Ordinary Seaman Teddy Sheehan hailed from Latrobe in Tasmania, he was still 18, his next birthday about a month away.
    On seeing his shipmates being cut to pieces by the Japanese, he scrambled back to the 20 MM oerlikon mounting fitted just aft of the bridge. He strapped himself in, and must have known he was about to sacrifice himself in an attempt to save some of his fellow sailors.
    The Armidale was already on her way to the ocean floor, she, in fact, sank only three minutes after being struck by the first torpedo.
    Sheehan shot down one Japanese aircraft, and was hit by the gunfire from an attacking Zero, but he maintained his fire, even though water was lapping round his feet his gun kept up its attack against the enemy.
    Finally, water closed over Sheehan and his gun as Armidale sank beneath him, his heroism and ordeal at last over.
    No Victoria Cross had ever been awarded to an Australian sailor, if at last the Royal Australian Navy was to be awarded its first VC, then Ordinary Seaman Edward Sheehan would surely be its recipient. But no! it did not happen.
     
  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    The Victoria Cross was awarded for 'most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy'.

    The George Cross was insituted for 'acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger' that were not in the face of the enemy which explains why so many were awarded to people involved in bomb disposal and mine clearance.

    I wrote up Lieutenant Hugh Randall Syme's details a week or so ago and his GC was awarded for a collection of mine disposals/clearance the most noted in 1942. None of his actions were in the face of the enemy so he would never have been considered for a VC.

    Trooper Finney in 2003 is a classic example of this he did virtually the same as Beharry but because he was being attacked by Americans instead of Iraqi's he could not be considered for the VC.
     
  4. arkrite

    arkrite Senior Member

    The US Govt have re appraised some war time recommendations and upgraded awards. Would it be worthwhile petitioning Parliament for a similar review with an Australian link up of some type? No wonder the Aussies think we always dump on them ( thats when we are not wasting time on the cricket pitch:lol:)

    Just an idea.
     
  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    The Australians have recieved nearly a hundred Victoria Cross's (96 I think to date) and since 1991 they have had their own 'Australian' Victoria Cross.

    I only looked at the first chap mentioned (Syme) and there is no way with the best will in the world he would be entitled to a VC. Unfortunately he doesn't fit the criteria.

    Regards
    Andy
     
  6. ozjohn39

    ozjohn39 Senior Member

    In my personal view no Commanding Officer should get the VC for doing what he is paid to do.

    Even a ships Captain, charging a Battleship in a Corvette does not qualify.

    Sheean, - Yes.


    John.
     
  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I'm sure a list could be drawn up of hundreds if not thousands of people that were worthy of the VC. For me Paddy Mayne is one who immediately springs to mind.

    I think the fact that people like Mayne and Australian circles Sheean are still remembered and were not awarded a VC pays a higher tribute to them in away as they are not on any VC list or memorial but are still talked about 60 years on.

    I think what I wrote on my VC thread somes it up rather well:

    Finally whilst reading these citations I think it’s worth remembering that for everyone one of the 182 Victoria Cross holders who risked everything for their mates and for freedom during World War Two there was thousands of men and women from Britain and the Commonwealth who did the same all around the world in those six years but received no recognition.
     
  8. ozjohn39

    ozjohn39 Senior Member

    I think the RAN has had a guilty concience about AB Sheehan, ever since the sinking of the 'Armidale'. If he had been an Officer I am certain he would have got a VC.

    Any other RAN ship/boat named after an AB?


    John.
     
  9. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    I only looked at the first chap mentioned (Syme) and there is no way with the best will in the world he would be entitled to a VC. Unfortunately he doesn't fit the criteria.

    Regards
    Andy

    I meant to take that (Syme) reference out as I agree with you.

    As you can see, the main one there for me was Sheehan!

    Cheers

    Geoff
     
  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Geoff do you know if the 3 you list above received any award?
     
  11. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    I have just noticed that the spelling in the website is incorrect as far as the AWM roll of honour has his spelling as Sheean.

    A piece about Waller and the decision.
    John Bradford's website
    Of the six Collins-class submarines, three of them, Waller , Rankin and Sheean are named after men who were regarded as having demonstrated personal heroism of an extremely high order prior to their being killed-in-action. This has inevitably fuelled speculation on why they were not recommended for the Victoria Cross. A strong case for Waller could have been made, particularly since CAPT Albert H. Rooks, USN, CO of the other cruiser involved in the Sunda Strait action, USS Houston, had received the United States' highest award for gallantry: a posthumous Medal of Honor for 'extraordinary heroism, gallantry in action and distinguished service in the line of his profession' for the Sunda Strait action and earlier actions in February 1942.
    Awards:

    Nothing for Sheean

    Captain Waller.........Companion of the Distinguished Service Order and bar (MID?)
    However nothing for his last action.

    Nothing for Captain R.W. Rankin
     
  12. Martin Elliget

    Martin Elliget Senior Member

    I realise it's no consolation but Sheean was Mentioned In Despatches "For bravery and devotion to duty when H.M.A.S. Armidale was lost" (Gazette Issue 36072, p.2947, 25 June 1943; surname spelling corrected Gazette Issue 36106, p.3371, 23 July 1943).
     
  13. Gibbo

    Gibbo Senior Member

    During WWII, only the VC, GC and a Mention in Despatches could be awarded posthumously. By this, I mean killed in the act that won the medal. It's sometimes said that men were decorated with other medals posthumously, but in these cases they were killed in a separate action between the one that won them their medal and the actual award.

    I don't know when this changed, but other medals were awarded posthumously in the Falklands.
     
  14. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    The first Postumus Military Cross was awarded in 1980 to a chap in the Guards, I think he was in the SAS and killed in N. Ireland.
     
  15. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    It's sometimes said that men were decorated with other medals posthumously, but in these cases they were killed in a separate action between the one that won them their medal and the actual award.


    I remembered this story I stumbled on doing some British Gallantry Awards research:


    During World War II Captain Sam Manekshaw, Indian Army (who eventually rose to the rank of Field Marshal), was leading a counter-offensive operation against the invading Japanese Army in Burma. During the course of the offensive he was hit by a burst of machine-gun fire and severely wounded in the stomach. Major General D.T. Cowan spotted Manekshaw holding on to life and was aware of his valour in face of stiff resistance from the Japanese. Fearing the worst, Major General Cowan quickly pinned his own Military Cross ribbon on to Manekshaw saying, "A dead person cannot be awarded a Military Cross".
     
  16. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

  17. jonheyworth

    jonheyworth Senior Member

  18. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    I still don't like long-retrospective awards.
    Often little achieved other than a personal salve for campaigners & a political one for awarders.
    Never gives me a sense of 'setting the record straight'; more unease at editing it.
     
    TTH and timuk like this.
  19. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    Well given that people can still can still stoke up ire over men who did bad things centuries ago and dememorialise them it seems right that men who did valiant things years ago can still be celebrated.
     
  20. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Neither seem right to me.
     
    TTH, BFBSM, timuk and 1 other person like this.

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