This Day in History: 1939-09-28

On 28 September 1939 RAAF No 11 Squadron arrived in Port Moresby with WGCDR L. J. Alexander as Commanding Officer and with 15 ex-Qantas personnel (pilots and maintenance staff) and 16 RAAF personnel. The first four pilots of No 11 Squadron’s two Short Empire ‘C’ Class flying boats were SQNLDR Bob Gurney, SQNLDR Goff Hemsworth, FLGOFF Bill Purton and SQNLDR Eric Sims, all former Qantas pilots. The Short Empire ‘C’ Class flying boats had been used by Qantas on the Sydney to Singapore run. They were luxurious but slow and had limited range. They flew only by day, passengers being accommodated overnight in Townsville, Darwin and Singapore. When the first two ‘C’ Class flying boats arrived in Port Moresby in 1939, they had been stripped of their luxurious appointments and were engaged in the search for enemy vessels, including submarines. Source: Gibbs, W. J. 1995 ‘A Glimpse of the RAAF Meteorological Service’, Metarch Papers, No. 7 March 1995, Bureau of Meteorology