The photo above shows a detail of the statue erected in memory of Arthur Louis Aaron VC, DFM (5 March 1922–13 August 1943) in Leeds city centre. Arthur Aaron was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
This statue on the Eastgate roundabout, commemorates Arthur Aaron (an old boy of Roundhay School)who was chosen by thousands of Leeds residents to be the subject of a sculpture marking the new millennium.
Arthur Aaron was a bomber pilot in World War 2.
On 12 August 1943 during a raid on Turin, Italy, Flight Sergeant Aaron’s bomber was hit by gunfire. The Stirling was very badly damaged; Three engines were hit, the windscreen shattered, the front and rear turrets put out of action and the elevator control damaged, causing the aircraft to become unstable and difficult to control. The navigator was killed, other members of the crew were wounded, Flight Sergeant Aaron’s jaw was broken and part of his face was torn away. He had also been hit in the lung and his right arm was useless. Despite his terrible injuries he managed to level the aircraft out at 3000ft. Unable to speak, Flight Sergeant Aaron urged the bomb aimer with gestures to take over the controls. The crippled bomber made for the nearest Allied bases in North Africa.
Aaron was then assisted to the rear of the aircraft and given morphia. After resting he insisted on returning to the cockpit where he was lifted back into his seat where he made a determined effort to take control and fly the aircraft although his weakness was evident and he was eventuall persuaded to desist. In great pain and suffering from exhaustion he continued to help by writing directions with his left hand.
Five hours after leaving the target fuel was now low, but Bone airfield was sighted. Flight Sergeant Aaron summoned his failing strength to successfully direct the bomb aimer in belly-landing the damaged aircraft in the darkness.
He died nine hours after the aircraft touched down, he was 21 years of age.
The scuplture was unveiled on Saturday 24 March 2001 by Malcolm Mitchem, the last surviving member of Aarons aircrew. The statue of the young bomber pilot was commissioned from Barnsley artist Graham Ibbeson, who aslo made the well known statue of Eric Morecambe the comedian.
The photograph above shows the entire sculpture, viewed towards Eastgate, Leeds.
The sculpture features the bomber pilot as a young man, who had just graduated in architecture at the University of Leeds, standing at the foot of a tree, up which are climbing three children progressively representing the passage of time between 1950 and 2000, with the last a girl releasing a dove of peace, all representing the freedom his sacrifice helped ensure.