Council speech on plan to move Leeds war hero Arthur Louis Aaron VC statue

A man who is campaigning for a statue of a Leeds war hero to be moved to a different spot hopes to convince councillors of the idea today.

Statue of Arthur Louis Aaron in Eastgate, Leeds

Retired GP Stewart Manning’s father Cyril attended Roundhay School alongside the boy who later became Leeds’s only Second World War Victoria Cross recipient, Arthur Louis Aaron.

The RAF flight sergeant was just 21 when he died of exhaustion after a perilous bombing mission over Turin, Italy, in 1943. A 17ft art work was created in his honour after YEP readers voted him the subject of the city’s Millennium Statue project in 2000, and was unveiled at Eastgate the year after by Malcolm Mitchem DFM, the last survivor of Arthur’s crew.

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Mr Manning, a former Beeston GP and Leeds United assistant doctor, feels that a spot by the recently refurbished Oakwood Clock near to Roundhay School would be more suitable.

281217 Stewart Manning next to the Arthur Aaron VC statue on the roundabout at the bottom of Eastgate in Leeds .

He will address the full meeting of Leeds City Council after 1pm today at Civic Hall.

Mr Manning, 67, of Alwoodley said: “He was an inspiration. In the school itself it was something that affected every boy who went to Roundhay. My father always talked about him.”

Mr Manning’s uncle, Philip Glynn, was in the assembly during which the school’s headteacher “shed a tear” after announcing the pilot’s death.

He thinks that this year’s centenary of the end of the First World War and the 100th anniversary of the of the Royal Air Force being founded is the right time for a move, but it could take around three years to achieve if permitted.

281217 Stewart Manning next to the Arthur Aaron VC statue on the roundabout at the bottom of Eastgate in Leeds .

At Roundhay Park, the statue could be used as an education resource for the city’s youngsters, Mr Manning said.

He added: “A statue is meant to provoke emotions. You can hardly do that in the middle of a roundabout.”

The pilot ignored horrific injuries after his aircraft was fired at and helped to land it in what is now called Annaba, Algeria, on August 12, 1943.