Campaigners ecstatic after Victoria Cross for Teddy Sheean confirmed

A TOAST: Veterans' Affairs Minister Guy Barnett, veteran Jack Bird and Garry Ivory, the nephew of Edward 'Teddy' Sheean. Picture: Paul Scambler
A TOAST: Veterans' Affairs Minister Guy Barnett, veteran Jack Bird and Garry Ivory, the nephew of Edward 'Teddy' Sheean. Picture: Paul Scambler

At the end of it all, an ageing bottle of port sat waiting.

Nearly 20 years ago, Garry Ivory, the nephew of Tasmanian war hero Edward "Teddy" Sheean, vowed not to crack open the bottle until his late uncle was recognised with a Victoria Cross. on Tuesday, that time finally came.

Mr Ivory said he'd been presented with it in 2001, when the HMAS Sheean, a Collins-class submarine operated by the Royal Australian Navy, was commissioned.

"This port was given to me by one of the crewmen," he said.

"I said to him, 'I won't knock the top off of that until we get the VC'.

"And, believe me, sometimes she might have looked like turning to vinegar. But today we are going to knock the top off it."

Mr Ivory clinked glasses with state Veterans' Affairs Minister Guy Barnett, a staunch supporter of the campaign for Sheean to receive a Victoria Cross, and Jack Bird, 97, of Launceston, who was a close friend of Sheean's and served in the navy with him.

"I can't explain the feeling I feel," Mr Ivory said. "It'll probably take a few days to absorb it."

The bottle of port presented to Garry Ivory, with a portrait of Teddy Sheean in the background. Picture: Paul Scambler

The bottle of port presented to Garry Ivory, with a portrait of Teddy Sheean in the background. Picture: Paul Scambler

He said that he had never considered putting a halt to his campaign, despite all the obstacles he encountered.

"The motto of the submarine HMAS Sheean is 'Fight On'," Mr Ivory said. "I would look at that and think, 'Well, that's exactly what I will do'.

"Because he never gave up and never, ever was I giving up."

Mr Bird said yesterday was "the greatest day of my life".

"You can't describe it," he said. "It's just fantastic."

"But it should have happened a long time ago."

Mr Bird said he and Sheean - who he described as "an interesting fella" - were very similar and that officers wouldn't be able to tell them apart during the time they served together in Hobart and Melbourne.

"They'd see me coming and they'd say, 'About time, Sheean'," he said. "I'd say, 'Bird's the name, sir'."

An emotional Mr Barnett, who presented Mr Bird with a commemorative medallion marking the 75th anniversary of the Imperial Japanese Army's surrender to the Allies, said Sheean demonstrated "courage, mateship and sacrifice".

"Today ... is a red-letter day," he said. "We are so proud of Teddy."

This story Jubilation for Sheean VC campaigners, after decades-long battle first appeared on The Examiner.