Sparks fly over statue

Is a kids’ playground about to push Hughie out of Kings Square?

FREMANTLE flying ace Hughie Edwards faces being squeezed out of Kings Square during its redevelopment.

The statue to Australia’s most decorated World War II hero and former WA governor was erected in 2002, but is too close to the council’s plans for a new and extended children’s playground as part of the $270 million square revamp.

Fremantle Society president John Dowson was outraged to hear Hughie might end up near the old Fremantle Boys School at Princess May Park. Sir Hughie had been forced to leave that school because his family couldn’t afford to send him there after his junior certificate.

“The only thing that needs to be said about Hughie is that he was the most highly decorated Australian soldier of WWII,” Mr Dowson said.

“End of story.

“Nothing further needs to be said – the bravest Australian of them all about to be banished from the heart of his town to the side entry of a school.”

Mr Dowson said he was gobsmacked when a council staffer told him they’d been taken by surprise by how big the council’s building and playground were going to be.

Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt told the Herald he’d only just heard about Hughie’s potential move half an our before we called.

Dr Pettitt said he’d told staff the statue could only be moved out with the approval of the aviation hero’s family and relevant groups. He said the statue could be repositioned within the square, otherwise he’d end up standing amongst kids in the playground.

Hughie Edwards was born in Fremantle on August 1, 1914 and joined the Royal Air Force in England after spending time manning Fremantle’s defences.

He was critically injured in a crash in 1938 but by sheer determination he managed to get permission to resume flying in 1940 so he could join his comrades fighting the Nazis.

Quickly promoted to squadron commander he was revered by his crews for his determination to make them the best and therefore lower the death rate.

Cdr Edwards received a Victoria Cross and two Distinguished Flying Crosses, one for attack an enemy ship at mast height.

By STEVE GRANT

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