WA's Connection to Teddy Sheean

Earlier this year Federal Member for Canning Andrew Hastie established the Double Reds Resilience Award to recognise students who, by their personal conduct, exemplify the character of the 2nd Independent Company.

The Company, often referred to as the 2/2 or Double Reds for their double red diamond insignia, led a staunch resistance in incredibly difficult circumstances in Timor against Japanese troops in 1942, despite being vastly outnumbered. They were some of Australia’s first commandos. Today’s Australian special forces trace their roots back to these units.

Mr Hastie said that the Award took on a special meaning this week with the posthumous awarding of the Victoria Cross to Ordinary Edward ‘Teddy’ Sheean, for his heroic actions aboard HMAS Armidale on 1 December 1942.

“Teddy exemplifies sacrifice and service to others. He was willing to lay down his life to make that happen,” Mr Hastie said.

“Tasmanians are proud of Teddy Sheean, and they should be—he is a great Australian. But West Australians should also share in that Tasmanian pride. “

“The fact is that Teddy Sheean was there on 1 December 1942 off the coast of Timor to evacuate members of the 2/2 Commando Squadron.”

“The 2/2 had fought an almost year-long guerilla campaign against the Japanese in Timor. Over 80% of the 2/2 commandos were from WA.”

“While not a main theatre of the Pacific War, the 2/2’s campaign throughout 1942 nonetheless made a significant contribution to the eventual Allied victory. Their staunch resistance in incredibly difficult conditions diverted thousands of Japanese troops that would have otherwise been sent to critical places like Kokoda and Guadalcanal.”

“The HMAS Armidale, with Teddy aboard, was there to relieve the 2/2 and bring them home.”

“In my view, it's a beautiful picture of the Australian federation at work on the battlefield.”

Speaking this week in parliament on the conferral of Sheean’s Victoria Cross, Mr Hastie said, “In a year like 2020, where our federation has been under immense strain, it's great to go back to historical examples like this one and recognise that, yes, we are proud of our state identities but that in the end, we are all Australians and on the battlefield, we don't make any distinctions. So Western Australians shared in the joy of seeing Teddy Sheean recognised yesterday at Government House.”

Mr Hastie believes that we should seek ways to pass on the lessons of these examples of service, sacrifice and character by Australian personnel.

The Double Reds award is one such initiative. Established this year by Mr Hastie, the Award has the endorsement of the 2/2 Commando Association.

“This year I have initiated the Double Reds award for schools in Canning. The award honours the memory of the 2/2 and recognises students who have displayed character and resilience in the face of adversity throughout the school year.”

“I’m very pleased to say that many schools across Canning have chosen to participate. This means I’ve had the pleasure of hearing many inspiring stories of young people in our region who have been nominated by their schools to receive the award. The people of the Peel region and Perth Hills should be proud of the toughness and strength of character shown in many of our young people.”

“For instance, on Friday I caught up with Double Reds recipient Ben Lindsay from Austin Cove Baptist College.”

“Ben has a rare neuro-muscular degenerative disorder, but he doesn't let it define him. He persists in everything he can at school with the best attitude. He is an inspiration to fellow students and the school’s staff.”

“It was a pleasure to spend time with Ben and his Mum Kellie, and to talk with him about the story of the 2/2 and Teddy Sheean VC: the Ordinary Seaman who made the ultimate sacrifice.”