Lieutenant-Commander Max Shean
Alan Betts suggested that Max Shean, one of the real X-men, deserved a write-up here. He certainly does.
Lieutenant-Commander Max Shean, who has died aged 90, was one of the small band of young men who, in the face of extraordinary peril, carried the sea war into enemy harbours in World War II; in the process they won a total of 68 awards for bravery, including four VCs; for his own exploits, Shean received a DSO and Bar.
Born in 1918, news of the Dunkirk evacuation had inspired Max to join the Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserves. A man of slender build, Shean was no swashbuckler. He was a man of quiet purpose, optimism and integrity. He was a meticulous planner. Shean first trained in anti-submarine warfare in Sydney before serving on a British corvette, HMS Bluebell, on Atlantic convoy escort duty.
Criss-crossing the U-boat infested North Atlantic, Shean took part in the desperate defence of convoy OG77, which had been attacked by a wolf pack. He was nicknamed 'King Ping' for his skill in using sonar.
He then volunteered for training in the top-secret X-craft submarines.
Nearly 66 years ago, a flotilla of mini-submarines set off to sink or cripple the mighty German battleship Tirpitz. Among the men behind this attack was Max Shean from Perth, a volunteer for one of World War II's most daring and hazardous naval missions.
The Tirpitz mission went tragically wrong, but Shean saved the tow ship, diving down into the freezing waters to free the ship's port propellor from the tow rope. In 1944, he successfully threaded his way through Norwegian fjords to lay explosive charges. Transferred to the Pacific, he was the commander of the midget submarine that cut vital Japanese underwater cables in Operation Sabre.
He returned to Australia with the woman he had fallen in love with in Scotland, and they raised two daughters. He worked in the power industry and sailed his yacht Bluebell (once to Britain)
Max Shean was a quiet man who did essential things. Ave atque Vale.
Thanks for the link, Alan.
UPDATE: FSC Dive Captain Peter McMahon has just written to say that he is selling Max Shean's book Corvette and Submarine on behalf of the family. The books are about to be listed on Ebay. All were signed by Max who was a long term member of the Fremantle Sailing Club. For more information, contact Captain McMahon at email@example.com.