Sims, Lieutenant Percy James

No 4 Sqn AFC

Percy Sims was born in Springhurst, Victoria, on 1 January 1896. He was studying Electrical Engineering at Melbourne University, where he was a member of the University Rifles, when he joined the 4th Artillery Brigade as a Driver in Melbourne on 28 July 1915. On 18 November he embarked on HMAT A18 Wiltshire for Egypt, and then France, where he served in the artillery until April 1917, when he transferred to the AFC and was posted to England for pilot training. He graduated as a pilot in October, when he was commissioned, and posted to No 57 Training Sqn in Egypt for further training. Next month he was posted to No 67 (Australian) Sqn on the Palestine Front. In May 1918 he was posted back to England, before joining No 4 Sqn on the Western Front in September.

On 19 September he was unhurt when Camel F1415 crashed when landing. Three days later he was on a bombing mission to Armentières Station with Lts T H Barkell and T C Cox, when the trio was attacked by thirteen Fokker D.VIIs. Lt Sims was able to avoid the German machines, while the other pilots had to fight hard before returning home (a victory over Lt Barkell’s Camel, E7191, was credited to the German ace Ltn Hans-Georg von der Marwitz of Jasta 30 – though Lt Barkell was not shot down). On 1 October Lt Sims was flying Camel E1416 when he was credited with a two-seater east of Herlies. Two days later, again in E1416, he was credited with a DFW C-type near Haubordin at 07.35. On 8 October, flying Camel E7202, he drove down a DFW east of Lille.

He was killed in action north east of Tournai on 29 October 1918 while flying Sopwith Snipe E8070. In a large action where fifteen Snipes from No 4 Sqn, plus other British aeroplanes, battled some sixty Fokker D.VIIs, Lt Sims was seen by Lt A J Palliser to shoot down one Fokker in flames before being shot down himself. He was initially posted as Missing in Action, but a Court of Enquiry in Cologne in early 1919 decided that he had been killed.

Lt P J Sims has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial and the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, France.

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