28 Feb 2011

VC's not easy to come by in the British Navy"particularly if you were an AUSTRALIAN

The Gillard government has set up an inquiry to find out whether the Victoria Cross can, or should, be awarded retrospectively to Australians who served heroically in past wars.
That inquiry will examine acts of gallantry by 13 Australians who went unrecognised or who received acknowledgment long considered inadequate.
While the new Hall of Valour at the Australian War Memorial embraces the stories of 98 Australians whose courage under fire won them the Victoria Cross there's a strong view that some Australian heroes who should be there are missing from the line-up.
There are, in fact, some rich examples of very similar acts of heroism that were treated in wildly different ways.

Of the 98 Victoria Crosses awarded to Australians, 94 were won by army personnel and four by members of the Royal Australian Air Force.

None has gone to the navy. While the army and the RAAF were under Australian control during World War II, the navy was under the authority of Britain's Royal Navy.


1....18-year-old Teddy Sheean was a gunner aboard the Australian warship HMAS Armidale, which was attacked by Japanese aircraft.

As the corvette began to sink and its crew abandoned ship, Japanese aircraft began strafing survivors in their life rafts. Sheean, thought to be already wounded, strapped himself into a gun and blasted the aircraft. Survivors said he shot down one aircraft and damaged two more and he was still firing as the gun was going under.
2....In the early hours of March 1, 1942, Perth and an American warship, USS Houston, ran into a powerful Japanese invasion fleet in the Sunda Strait.
In the battle that followed, the two cruisers inflicted heavy damage on the Japanese.
Waller and his men fought until their ammunition was gone and their ship was sinking beneath them. Of the 681 Australian crew, only 218 survived the sinking and the years of captivity that followed. Waller went down with his ship. According to the Australian War Memorial, Waller was probably the outstanding naval officer of his generation.
Neither of these men were awarded a V C, there are series of similar incidents that require serious investigation.


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