Fresh bid to move city centre tribute to Leeds war hero

Stewart Manning next to the Arthur Aaron statue on the roundabout at the bottom of Eastgate in Leeds.
Stewart Manning next to the Arthur Aaron statue on the roundabout at the bottom of Eastgate in Leeds.
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A fresh case for a city centre statue dedicated to a war hero from Leeds to be relocated is set to be made to the council.

Retired Beeston GP and former Leeds United assistant doctor, Stewart Manning, 67, who is fronting the campaign said he has been granted the chance to explain why the bronze homage to Arthur Louis Aaron, currently located on Eastgate roundabout, should be moved at a council meeting in March.

The plaque beneath the Arthur Aaron statue.

The plaque beneath the Arthur Aaron statue.

The son of a Russian Jewish immigrant, Aaron was Leeds’ only serviceman to be awarded the Victoria Cross in the Second World War and a 17ft statue in his honour was paid for by the Scurrah Wainright Charity and gifted to Leeds Civic Trust after YEP readers voted him the subject of the city’s Millennium Statue project in 2000.

But Mr Manning, whose father sat next to Aaron when they attended Roundhay School, believes 2018, as the centenary year of the end of the First World War, is a fitting time to reconsider moving the statue after a past bid to do so failed in 2015.

“At Eastgate, it’s in a position where no one sees it. Even people who work in that part of Leeds don’t know it’s there,” he said. “We would like him to be moved to near Roundhay School. Everyone who went there knew him because there is a memorial to him there. He grew up nearby in Thorn Lane.

“Or, ideally, we would like the statue to be just inside the gates of Roundhay Park and facing towards the school.”

Arthur Louis Aaron died after being injured on his final mission over Turin in 1943.

Arthur Louis Aaron died after being injured on his final mission over Turin in 1943.

The last bid to have the statue moved was rejected over hopes that it might spark development in the historically neglected Eastgate area of the city.

FINAL MISSION

RAF flight sergeant Arthur Louis Aaron was just 21 when he died after a bombing mission over Italy in 1943.

Part of his face was shot off, his jaw broken, one arm was immobile and shrapnel was lodged in his lungs when his plane took fire.

Unable to speak, he signalled to the bomb aimer to take the controls and the crew set a course for an Allied airfield. After the crew resisted his attempt to fly the plane again and close to collapse, he wrote instructions and directed the bomb aimer to land. He died of exhaustion hours later.

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