After years of hosting contemporary art the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square has finally got something more traditional – a statue of a war hero.
by Stephen Adams, Arts Correspondent
Appeared in The Daily Telegraph 5 November 2009
The statue of Sir Keith Park, who spearheaded the RAF's campaign during the Battle of Britain, was unveiled by Boris Johnson to warm applause.
The event ends a two-year campaign to secure a permanent memorial to Sir Keith, whose tactical brilliance against the advice of his superiors helped RAF fighters to gain the upper hand against superior German forces.
It will only stay six months, as the plinth has been dedicated to host temporary arts commissions into the future.
However, a permanent statue is to be unveiled next September in Waterloo Place to mark the 70th anniversary of the battle.
Previously, the only recognition that New Zealander Sir Keith received was having a street named after him in Biggin Hill, Kent.
Mr Johnson, who gave his backing for a memorial while contesting the mayoralty against Ken Livingstone, said he could not believe how much Sir Keith had done for Britain "and how little this country knew about what he had done".
A Royal Air Force Spitfire and a Typhoon aircraft flew through the sky to mark the occasion, which was also attended by veterans and Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, Chief of the Air Staff.
He described Sir Keith as "a true hero of the RAF".
Copyright The Telegraph Group 2009