Winner of the 2021 ANI Commodore Sam Bateman Book Prize


In its inaugural year, the Commodore Sam Bateman Book Prize has been contested by 11 highly distinguished pieces that promote the study and understanding of Naval and Maritime matters.

Their epoch stretched from the 1400s to modern day with a wide-ranging basis of topic, from deeply historically researched pieces, to analysis of Australian Capability development, World War I warship design and build and notable personages and capabilities.

The judging panel consisted of Rear Admiral Allan Du Toit, Commodore Allison Norris, Captain Guy Blackburn and Sub-Lieutenant Alison Smith.

On review the contest was particularly close with some insightful research topics that shed light on previously unresearched naval and maritime matters.

The judges were unanimous in their judging and assessment of the winning entry.

Winning Entry

The Winner of the 2021 ANI Commodore Sam Bateman Book Prize is :

Teddy Sheean VC- A Selfless Act of Courage

Author: Tom Lewis

Publisher Big Sky Publishing


Judges Comments

Whilst appearing to be narrowly focussed on the retrospective award of Australia’s first Naval Victorian Cross recipient, Teddy Sheean VC, this opus is anything but a narrow view of the Royal Australian Navy’s highest honour to date. The book uses the background of Teddy Sheean’s life in the early 1900s through to his death in World War II in HMAS Armidale as a vehicle to not only tell Teddy’s story from his life in Tasmania, to joining the RAN, to his ultimate sacrifice, but also review those notable personages who received award and accolade for their feats of courage in action in the RAN using the Australian honours and awards system to contrast the decision made by the Admiralty.

The language is rich, easy to read and follow and sets the scene for a deft analysis of notable RAN personages such as Waller, Dechaineaux and Collins to name but a view. With a strongly researched geostrategic background, Teddy Sheean VC also provides the reader a definitional framework into “why the things are the way they are” such as a wonderfully raucous background into why cannons are called cannons, versus why destroyers are called such. It closes with a lesson learned theme for the future in acknowledging the acts of courage that occur at sea by Australians and how as a nation, Australia should be prouder.

The presentation of the book is sublime, with plates, pictures and charts scattered throughout that not only provide added information for the reader, but also break up the in-depth analysis to hold the reader’s attention without effort.

The judges note that 2021 was the year in which Teddy Sheean was awarded the first Naval Victoria Cross of Australia, however were independent and unanimous without influence over the winners judging.

Overall, Teddy Sheean VC not only informed and progressed the naval and maritime conversation by delivering previously undiscovered works, it also helped the reader form an opinion on what may come next through a rich tapestry of storytelling with historical research.

The Judging Panel also awarded Honourable Mentions to three books:

Ikara: Australia’s Cold War Wonder Weapon, written by Angus Britts published by the Naval Historical Society of Australia,

A Scottish Blockade Runner in the American Civil War, written by John F Messner, published by Whittles Publishing

A Ceaseless Watch; Australia’s Third-Party Naval Defense, 1919-1942, written by Angus Britts, published by US Naval Institute Press.

The judges thank the Naval Shipbuilding College for its patronage of this important Prize and the Bateman family for their ongoing support to the Australian Naval Institute.

The judges particularly thank all 11 authors for their excellent submissions and look forward to the next year in anticipation of more outstanding opuses to promote naval and maritime matters through the award of the 2022 Commodore Sam Bateman Book Prize.


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