New Aussie War Film Armidale Announced

May 28, 2020
Armidale will tell an extraordinary true story of WW2 bravery and desperation.

Despite Australia’s rich military history and plethora of tales of underdog battlefront spirit, our list war movies is surprisingly short, with recent flicks like Danger Close: The Battle Of Long Tan and Escape And Evasion real rarities. They will soon be joined, however, by Armidale, which tells the extraordinary WW2 true story of the sinking of the Aussie ship HMAS Armidale, which was sunk by the Japanese in a three-minute hellfire off the coast of East Timor on December 1, 1942. After the sinking, the ship’s 100 surviving crew members – under the astute and impassioned leadership of Captain David Richards – found themselves stranded at sea, split between a small leaking motorboat, an old whaler and a cobbled together raft. There was a full enquiry, but the results were never made public and remained classified for over 50 years. Consequently, the story of the Armidale and the incredible bravery of its men was never acknowledged or rewarded. In total, only 46 of the 149 men aboard survived.

Director Craig Monahan

Armidale will be brought to the screen by veteran director Craig Monahan (who will co-write with John Cundill), who has impressed with his films The Interview, Peaches and Healing. A major part of the film is sure to be the involvement of the Armidale’s heroic 18-year-old gun loader Edward “Teddy” Sheean who was controversially denied the Victoria Cross. “Teddy Sheehan stayed at his post during the three-minute firefight and went down with the ship, his gun still firing,” says Craig Monahan. “Sheean was extraordinary, but his actions are but one part of the fascinating and multi-layered Armidale story.”

Action, excitement, desperation, heroism and tragedy…the elements are certainly all there for a truly cinematic experience. “This a story that needs to be told” says Craig Monahan.  “It is an extraordinary true story, with great heart and emotional depth with a political sting in the tail. There is great heroism and tragic loss which, sadly, might have been avoided. It is, above all, the story of the individuals involved and the people at home waiting for their loved ones to return. Within the Australian Navy, the story of Armidale is legendary. The Australian Navy Patrol Boats are called Armidale Class and in 1999 a Collins-class submarine was named The Sheean. I will be very proud to bring this story to the screen.”

For more information about the HMAS Armidale, click here.

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Comments

  1. Phil Reedman

    My name is Phil Reedman I’m the youngest son of Denis Reedman leading telegraphists a Survivor from HMAS Armidale. Dad and I were very close. I have some very personal stories from the Sinking that my father told me..
    Would love to talk to Craig Monahan or Don Groves about these stories from my father. If someone could please pass on my contact info to the above men please.
    Teddy Sheean helped save my fathers life.
    Regards
    Phil Reedman

    1. Patrick

      I have a screenplay on this subject which I registered with the AWG 3 years ago. And was copyrighted. There could be a issue with this. Can this be clarified please?

  2. Colin Payne

    This is incredible news I am one of the sons of Keith and Flo Payne.
    Over the last thirty years or so my farther Keith Payne VC has been involved in the petitioning of the Australian Government to the heroism of Teddy Sheean properly recognise which was turned down again by the Government even after a independent comity formed by the Government has recommended that Teddy Sheean should be posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his heroism on that fateful day in which Teddy Sheean made the ultimate sacrifice and in so doing saved many of his shipments lives.
    I would all all Australian to contact their Federal Government members and strongly urge them to support the petition for Teddy sheean Victoria Cross

  3. Garry Ivory

    My name is Garry Ivory ,nephew of Teddy Sheean ,I have been trying to get my uncle the VC for 32 years ,If I can be of any help please contact me

  4. Garry Ivory

    Please feel free to contact me if I can help in anyway ,cheers Garry Ivory

  5. CHRISTOPHER HARTLEY

    My father John Hartley NX78025 was one of the men of the 2/2 Australian Independent Company waiting on Portuguese Timor for HMAS Armidale to arrive on 01 Dec 42 to evacuate them back to Darwin after fighting a guerilla campaign against the Japanese from 20 Feb 42 through to Dec 42. The Independent Company waited in vain and later received a signal from Darwin that they would not be picked up as planned. They waited another two weeks for the Dutch destroyer Tjerk Hiddes to arrive and then bring them home on 16 Dec 42. At that point, the Independent Company learned of the Armidale’s fate, and grieved for those lost. Please add me to any mailing list to remain informed of this project’s progress, and if there is anything I can do to assist. It would be great if the film includes footage of the men waiting on Timor for the Armidale.

  6. Alan

    AWSOME but please don’t go the American move war movie way with over exaggerated combat footage.

    If the film folk see these posts they should find a book written in 1946 by a survivor of the Thia Burma rail road.
    Behind Bamboo. Increable story involving survivors of HMAS Perth.

  7. Rob

    Can’t wait to see how the movie turns out, having spent 13 years myself in the RAN and as a gunnery Sailor always hearing about Teddy and his Valour. With being adopted as a baby, I recently took ancestry.com DNA test search my biological history and I was amazed to find out my connection to the HMAS Armidale through Ordinary Seaman Freddie Fracis Smith who is my Great Uncle unfortunately Freddie succumbed to wounds from that 3 minutes of action and took a couple of days to pass from the wounds inflicted. Looking forward the production.
    Lest We Forget.

  8. John Davison

    My father served on HMAS Pirie which one its own has a distinct story to tell (mutiny?)
    Dad always spoke of Teddy Sheean and could not understand why he never received a VC
    Interesting to note that no RAN person has ever received a VC something which should be done
    I was extremely fortunate to be able to go to sea on the newship HMAS Pirie for the scattering of dads ashes and its is so emotional that the Armidale class patrol boats are being named after those great corvette/ minesweepers from all those years ago

  9. Brok P

    I also would love to help out on this project in any way I can. I’ve been researching Sparrow Force, the 2/2nd Independent Company, and the Timor convoys Armidale was part of for years now in preparation for a war-piece of my own.

  10. Bonita Deverell

    Thank you for making this movie I am sure it will be a great success.

  11. Anne Rees

    I grew up listening to this story as Dad’s mate Col Madigan was a survivor. He was an architect & has a son, Guy Madigan, who used to live in Bungendore. I hope he hears about this. We have a book of paintings on this story.

  12. Stephen Bartley

    Thank you Craig/John this is an incredible story and all true.

    The Australian navy is well overdue for recognition and I hope this is one of many WW2 navy stories that get screen attention. Theses men were so incredibly modest about what they endured. I’m sure you’ll do them proud. All the best.

  13. D Underhill

    John Davison’s comments resonated with me.

    My father was 17 when his ship the HMAS Hobart (D63) was torpedoed and was haunted by that and associated experience until he died. He subsequently saw action off Burma and apparently survived Kamikazee attacks, though he never talked about his own experiences.

    However he made sure I knew about Teddy Sheean and the sense of injustice and insult Dad and many of his fellow naval veterans felt that not even Shean’s actions would get recognition for a RAN member.

    Dad’s ashes were scattered of the back of a RAN ship on ANZAC Day.

    Please add me to the mailing list for updates

  14. Greg Wells

    Great story for a movie. I wrote a song A few years ago That you might be interested in called “Teddy Sheean “ it’s on my album “Keep it Real” You can check it out on Spotify or iTunes . Cheers Greg Wells & The Blackwater Band 0408146748

    1. Peter John (Beech) Caldwell

      My father, Able Seaman William Ralph Beech RAN, died when the HMAS Armidale sank, a few days before I was born on 6 December 1942. My mother remarried when I was 5 and I’ve been known by my stepfather’s surname since, but my birth certificate gives my name as Peter John Beech.

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