Following in famous footsteps
Billy Winkler-Sheean grew up walking the Sheean Walk and hearing proud family stories of the heroism of his great-great uncle, Teddy.
When he joined Navy last month, Recruit Sheean said his connection to Ordinary Seaman Edward ‘Teddy’ Sheean VC definitely played a part in his decision.
“My family always told stories about Teddy Sheean’s courage and his life in Tasmania, and obviously his name is on the Sheean Walk in Latrobe, and there is a memorial to him in Ulverstone,” Recruit Sheean said.
“He was just such a part of family lore and the history of where I grew up and I always had an idea in the back of my head that I might one day join the Navy like he did.”
Recruit Winkler-Sheean, 23, from Devonport, first trained as an electrician before joining the Navy. He is now training at HMAS Cerberus to be a boatswain’s mate.
He said he carried the family name proudly.
“I know my family is proud of me; my pop was overwhelmed when I joined. He showed me the replica VC and other medals Teddy had; he is so proud of me.”
Teddy Sheean was serving aboard HMAS Armidale in December 1942 when the ship came under aerial attack from Japanese aircraft.
He manned the ship’s Oerlikon gun and fired at the enemy, hitting at least two of their aircraft.
Despite being wounded, he strapped himself to the gun and continued firing until the ship sank, taking him to his death.
Last year, Queen Elizabeth II posthumously awarded Ordinary Seaman Sheean the Victoria Cross, the first to be awarded to a member of the Navy.
Recruit Sheean said the significance of the first Anzac Day since the VC had been awarded to his great-great uncle was not lost on him.
“I’ve always attended the Dawn Service, and I’ve always been proud of my family name and of Teddy Sheean,” he said.
“This year is even more special as it is not only the first since Teddy was recognised with the VC but also it is my first as a member of Defence.
“It is a huge honour to represent the Sheean name in the Navy on Anzac Day and every day.”
Recruit Winkler-Sheean said he had been enjoying his training and looked forward to joining a ship and seeing more of the world.
He said he was encouraged by the teamwork and respect that was evident in Navy.
“It’s been a valuable experience, with the training I’ve received and the friends I’ve made. I look forward to getting hands-on in the job and having a proud and successful career,” he said.