Captain Eric C Sims (1907-1992)

Born in Kalgoorlie, WA, in 1907, Eric C Sims joined the RAAF as an Airman W/T Operator in 1926. In 1932 he completed an RAAF pilot's course at Point Cook, Vic, and graduated as an airman pilot.

In January 1935 Eric Sims resigned from the Air Force to join Qantas Empire Airways (QEA) as one of four First Officers operating De Havilland DH86s on the Brisbane to Singapore leg of the Australia to Britain service. He was appointed to Command on these services in 1936. In 1935 Eric Sims took part in the search for Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and Tommy Pethybridge who went missing over the Bay of Bengal in the Lockheed Altair G-ADUS (formerly VH-USB).

Eric also flew various aircraft in the QEA light aircraft fleet on services and charters in the Australian outback.

The introduction of the Empire Flying Boats saw Eric Sims appointed to a Command on these aircraft by 1938 and he remained on this duty until the outbreak of war. In October 1939 E C Sims, together with a nucleus of QEA pilots comprising Captain Bob Gurney and First Officers Gough Hemsworth and Bill Purton, was seconded to the RAAF to form 11 Squadron (flying boats). Eric Sims remained on active service for two years, operating out of Port Moresby and attaining the rank of Squadron Leader, and was the only one of these four to survive the war.

In October 1941 he was released back to QEA where he resumed Empire Flying Boat operations on the Australia-Karachi route until the Japanese invasion of South East Asia. Thereafter he was involved in operations mainly to Singapore and the Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia). Loads were mainly military northbound and refugee women and children southbound. Thanks to the foresight of QEA Operations Manager Lester Brain in delaying their flight, Eric and crew in the Empire Boat Camilla missed the Japanese attack on Broome on the morning of 3 March 1942 in which numerous flying boats at anchor in Roebuck Bay were sunk.

Eric Sims also took part in the evacuation of Mount Hagen, New Guinea, and later operated on the QEA Perth-Colombo service using Liberators.

The re-equipment of QEA after the war with modern landplanes saw Eric Sims, in 1947, ferrying out from the USA to Australia the first of QEA's new Lockheed L749 Constellations. He subsequently became responsible for the supervision and training of crews on these aircraft.

Following long service leave, Eric Sims retired from QEA in 1954 to join the DCA as an Airways Surveyor. In 1959 he was a member of a DCA party ferrying two new Aero Commander 560Es from the USA to Australia via the North Atlantic route.

On 29 November 1966 Eric Sims retired from DCA. He passed away in Melbourne on 31 December 1992.

(Photo above: CAHS collection)


Captain E C Sims photographed in 1942 while with Qantas Empire Airways.

(Photo: Qantas)