b. 01/08/1914 Fremantle, Australia. d. 05/08/1982 Sydney, Australia.
Edwards was born in Fremantle, Western Australia on 1 August 1914, the third of five children to Welsh parents Hugh, a blacksmith and farrier, and his wife Jane (née Watkins), who had emigrated to Australia in 1909. Named after his father, he was always referred to by his middle name of Idwal in his family. Edwards received his initial education at White Gum Valley School, before attending the Fremantle Boy's School where he achieved well academically, although he later claimed this was due to a good memory rather than high intelligence. However, Edwards was reluctantly forced to leave school at the age of fourteen as the family finances could no longer support him. Described as a "shy, under-confident, introspective and imaginative lad" at this stage in his life, he gained employment as a shipping office clerk.
In 1935, he was selected for flying training with the Royal Australian Air Force at RAAF Point Cook, after which he transferred to the RAF, being granted a short service commission as a Pilot Officer. Posted to No. 15 Bomber Squadron, he was appointed adjutant of No. 90 Squadron in March 1937, flying Blenheim bombers. On 4 July 1941, Edwards led a daylight attack ("Operation Wreckage") against the port of Bremen, one of the most heavily-defended towns in Germany.
Wing Commander Edwards, although handicapped by a physical disability resulting from a flying accident, has repeatedly displayed gallantry of the highest order in pressing home bombing attacks from very low heights against strongly defended objectives.
On 4th July, 1941, he led an important attack on the Port of Bremen, one of the most heavily defended towns in Germany. This attack had to be made in daylight and there were no clouds to afford concealment. During the approach to the German coast several enemy ships were sighted and Wing Commander Edwards knew that his aircraft would be reported and that the defences would be in a state of readiness. Undaunted by this misfortune he brought his formation 50 miles overland to the target, flying at a height of little more than 50 feet, passing under high-tension cables, carrying away telegraph wires and finally passing through a formidable balloon barrage. On reaching Bremen he was met with a hail of fire, all his aircraft being hit and four of them being destroyed. Nevertheless he made a most successful attack, and then with the greatest skill and coolness withdrew the surviving aircraft without further loss.Throughout the execution of this operation which he had planned personally with full knowledge of the risks entailed, Wing Commander Edwards displayed the highest possible standard of gallantry and determination.
He was knighted in 1974, and became Governor of Western Australia later that year. He died suddenly on his way to watch a Test Match at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL, CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA.
BURIAL PLACE: KARRAKATTA CEMETERY, PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA.
Sir Hughie Edwards' medal group - Memorials to Valour
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
ASHES INTERRED WELSH FREE CHURCH PORTION
NMA (Andy Wright)
Kings Park, Perth (Gary Richardson)
Yorkshire Air Museum (Stewart May)