19th November 2020
A statue of former WA governor and Second World War air force hero Sir Hughie Edwards will be temporarily removed from Fremantle’s Kings Square tomorrow morning to allow for the construction of the new Kings Square playspace.
Fremantle-born Air Vice Marshal Hughie Idwal Edwards was the most highly decorated Australian of the Second World War and was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1941 for leading a daring daylight bombing raid against the German port of Bremen.
The life-size bronze statue of him in Kings Square was unveiled by then Governor of Western Australia, John Sanderson, in November 2002.
Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said the statue would be returned to Kings Square once the work on the new playspace was completed.
“Hughie Edwards is one of Fremantle’s favourite sons and the statue of him is a fitting tribute to not only his bravery during the war but also his service as Governor of Western Australia,” Mayor Pettitt said.
“Because we don’t want the statue to be damaged during construction of the new playspace it will be moved to a safe storage facility and then returned to Kings Square once the playspace is finished.
“We’ve been in close contact with the Edwards family so they are aware the statue is going to be temporarily removed and have been involved in choosing where it should be put back.
“When the playspace is finished in around April next year the statue will be reinstated close to its current location, but better integrated into the new landscape design for the square.”
Hughie Edwards was born in Fremantle on 1 August 1914 and was educated at White Gum Valley State School and Fremantle Boys’ School before he was forced to leave school at age 14.
After working in a shipping agents office, horse racing stable and a factory he joined the army in 1934 and was accepted as a cadet in the Royal Australian Air Force in 1935.
On 4 July 1941, as commanding officer of the Royal Air Force No. 105 Squadron, Edwards led a daylight attack against the port of Bremen, one of the most heavily defended towns in Germany.
Edwards' force of 12 Bristol Blenheim bombers attacked at a height of about 50 feet through telephone wires and high voltage power lines.
The bombers successfully penetrated fierce anti-aircraft fire and a dense balloon barrage, but further fire over the port itself resulted in the loss of four of the attacking force. Edwards brought his remaining aircraft safely back, although all had been hit and his own Blenheim had been hit over 20 times.
Edwards was appointed Governor of Western Australia on 7 January 1974 but ill health forced him to resign his vice-regal appointment on 2 April 1975.
Image: Hughie Edwards with another Fremantle luminary honoured with a statue in Kings Square - former Prime Minister John Curtin (credit: Australian War Memorial)