Sir Hughie back in the right place | City of Fremantle

News & Media

23 July 2021
Sir Hughie back in the right place

The family and comrades of Second World War hero and former WA Governor Sir Hughie Edwards have given their seal of approval to the new location of the statue created in his honour.

The life-size bronze sculpture, originally unveiled in 2002, was removed from Fremantle’s Walyalup Koort in November to ensure it wasn’t damaged during construction of the new playground.

Last month the statue was returned to Walyalup Koort, but in a more prominent location and better integrated into the landscape.

His 99-year-old brother Jack Edwards, who paid a visit to the site this week, said Sir Hughie would be pleased with his prime position in Fremantle’s new civic heart. 

“He was a proud Fremantle boy, played seven league games with South Fremantle before he went overseas, and he knew a hell of a lot of people in Fremantle,” Mr Edwards said.

“He wouldn’t be embarrassed about it I don’t think, but then again he didn’t like a lot of fuss.

“Personally I’m amazed and happy about it – it’s beautiful. I think he deserved it, and I think a lot of people in Fremantle who he knew would be very proud.”

Doug Arrowsmith, who was pilot under Sir Hughie’s command in 1944 and 1945, said the statue perfectly captured Sir Hughie’s character and leadership.

“They’ve done extremely well, the sculptors. It’s a real top-class job, and I’m very pleased to see that it’s been placed in a really good position in the square,” Mr Arrowsmith said.

“It’s hard to describe, but he had something about him. I don’t know what it was, but we all looked up to him and he was someone who gave us leadership and inspiration.

“Over the whole of Bomber Command he was one of the best, even though he wasn’t very good at landing!”

Artist Andrew Kay said the statue’s new location meant it was now positioned as he intended when it was first created in 2002.

“It was tucked under a tree where it was before and that wasn’t so good,” Mr Kay said.

“When I made the sculpture the idea was that he was looking up into the sky waiting for the other crews to come in from their missions.

“He was responsible for a lot of men and a lot of crews, so I tried to put that responsibility into the sculpture.

“Now he’s looking out into the open sky and, particularly with the stone and the architecture of the church in the background, I think it fits in very well.”

Air Vice Marshal Hughie Idwal Edwards was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1941 for leading a daring daylight bombing raid against the German port of Bremen.

He 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, Sir Hughie led a daylight attack against the port of Bremen, one of the most heavily defended towns in Germany.

His 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. Sir Hughie brought the remaining aircraft safely back, although all suffered damage and his own Blenheim had been hit over 20 times.

Sir Hughie 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.