C-Class Empire 'boat operational help needed....!

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C-Class Empire 'boat operational help needed....!

Postby seawings » Wed Jul 31, 2019 7:50 pm

Hi All,

I have received an email from a good contact of mine on SEAWINGS, seeking help to identify certain details of a flight of an Empire in 1940. I cannot assist too much, but maybe someone on here can. The contact is Graham Haines from Melbourne, Australia and here is his email text:

Dear Bryan

We live in Melbourne and we have a good friend of ours who last year celebrated her 90th birthday.

Vilma Jackson, together with her elder sister Josie and mother Rita made, what Vilma thinks, was the last paying passenger carrying flight in an Empire flying boat from Rose Bay to Poole. I have always had an interest in aviation so I offered to write up the story of their journey based on my own research and Vilma’s recollections as an 11 year old.

Vilma told me that Josie had also written an account of the flight in the months following their arrival in the UK to join their father who was the manager of the Commercial Bank of Australia and New Zealand, today known as Westpac Bank. Vilma said she remembered reading Josie’s account many years ago but she did not possess a copy herself. After I had started my research, Vilma rang to say that Josie (95 and living near Brighton) had sent her a copy of her account which was highly detailed and beautifully written so my account was a combination of my own work plus Josie’ account and Vilma’s memories.

I attach the itinerary of their journey which you will see started in New Zealand where the family then lived. The flight itself was 16.5 days as the flying boat Castor had an engine problem in Bahrain so the passengers were flown by an HP 42 “Hannibal” (then registered to the RAF but I suspect flown by an Imperial crew) from there to Alexandria where they waited before continuing their journey by flying boat to Poole. My account is quite detailed and runs to over 12,000 words. I know they flew in Corinna from Rose bay to Singapore and Castor from Singapore to Alexandria but have been unable to establish the name of the flying boat that took them from Alexandria to Poole. I know they made 72 landings and take-offs during the flight – 10 on land and 62 on water!

Nevertheless, there are a number of gaps in my research that I am hoping your members may be able to fill.

1. I don’t know what the flight number was or whether it flew under the auspices of Imperial Airways or Qantas Imperial Airways. Certainly both the flying boats were registered to Imperial.
2. Would love to know the names of the crew members. Did the crew change in Singapore as was the drill before the outbreak of WW2?
3. Vilma believes that this was the last flight to carry fare paying passengers. The circumstantial evidence would certainly support this claim but not having any flight details makes it difficult to confirm
4. What was the name of the flying boat on the Alexandria to Poole leg? Was it Castor which caught up with its passengers after the engine problems had been sorted or was it another craft sent out from the UK to “rescue” the stranded passengers in Egypt?

I have been in contact with Qantas Heritage at Mascot but have not heard back from David Crotty, who runs it part-time. Also sent an email to BA heritage but no response. If I can find answers to the above questions, I will incorporate the information in a revised edition and send you a copy. Really hope you can help me fill the gaps! Many thanks, Graham.

Here is the itinary for her flight:

Vilma Jackson - Wellington - Poole January/February 1940

Day No. Day Date Journey Overnight stop Flight days

1 Thursday 18th January Depart Wellington on MS Wanganella Wanganella
2 Friday 19th January Tasman Sea Wanganella
3 Saturday 20th January Tasman Sea Wanganella
4 Sunday 21st January Tasman Sea Wanganella
5 Monday 22nd January Arrive Sydney @ 10.15am Carlton Hotel, Sydney
6 Tuesday 23rd January Visit Koala Park Carlton Hotel, Sydney
7 Weds 24th January Visit zoo Carlton Hotel, Sydney
8 Thursday 25th January Depart Rose Bay Sydney/Brisbane/Gladstone/Townsville Queens Hotel, Townsville 1
9 Friday 26th January Townsville/Karumba/Groote Eylandt/Darwin Qantas Rest House, Darwin 2
10 Saturday 27th January Darwin/Kopang/Bima/Surabaya Oranje Hotel, Surabaya 3
11 Sunday 28th January Surabaya/Batavia/Singapore Raffles, Singapore 4
12 Monday 29th January Singapore/Penang/Bangkok Oriental Hotel, Bangkok 5
13 Tuesday 30th January Bangkok/Rangoon/Akyab/Calcutta Great Eastern Hotel, Calcutta 6
14 Weds 31st January Calcutta/Allahabad/Gwalior/Lake Rajsamand/Karachi Carlton Hotel, Karachi 7
15 Thursday 1st February Karachi/Jiwani/Dubai/Bahrain Imperial Airways Rest House 8
16 Friday 2nd February Bahrain Imperial Airways Rest House 9
17 Saturday 3rd February Bahrain/Kuwait/Basra/Baghdad Maude Hotel, Baghdad 10
18 Sunday 4th February Baghdad/Lydda/Alexandria Cecil Hotel, Alexandria 11
19 Monday 5th February Alexandria Cecil Hotel, Alexandria 12
20 Tuesday 6th February Alexandria Cecil Hotel, Alexandria 13
21 Wednesday 7th February Alexandria/Crete/Athens/Corfu Not known, Corfu 14
22 Thursday 8th February Corfu/Lake Bracciano, Rome/Lake Marignane, Marseilles Hotel Splendide, Marseille 15
23 Friday 9th February Marseilles/Bordeau/St Nazaire Grande Hotel, St Nazaire 16
24 Saturday 10th February St Nazaire/Poole Castle Hotel, Windsor 17


Short S23 Sydney - Singapore - Corinna
Short S23 Singapore - Bahrain - Castor
H-P HP42 Bahrain - Alexandria
Flying boat Alexandria - Poole - name of plane not known

...and there you have it.

Any answers out there at all....?
Best Regards,

Bryan Ribbans
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