Eric was born on the 5th April 1918 in Granville, New South Wales. At 22, he joined the RAAF in Sydney on the 3rd May 1940 and was quickly promoted to Sergeant then Warrant Officer.
His duties were mostly with HQ Fighter Wing. He worked in the advance parties, which set up air bases at Uranquinty, Temora, Wagga and Darwin. He was required to source all the equipment that a fighter base would need to operate. In wartime, this would have been an extremely difficult task given the shortage of all commodities of the kind needed for such an enterprise.
During his posting to Darwin, he endured first hand the bombing raids of the Japanese on the Darwin airfields. Eric tells the story of when he was guarding a Japanese prisoner who tried to escape out of a window. Eric grabbed his boot but the heel came away in his hand, Japanese writing and all. What a memento of that memento!
Eric was discharged from the RAAF on the 14th November 1945.
After the war, Eric had an interesting business life. He became Australian manager of the Roy Farrell Import Export Company and continued his connection with the air in civil aviation freight transport. He joining Cathay Pacific Airlines and was responsible for freighting any commodity on the DC3s that he thought could be retailed in Asia. He freighted everything from green cotton twill to day-old chickens.
In 1948, Eric bought out the company and began his own business importing soft-goods, mostly from Britain. In 1996, he was invited by Cathay Pacific to celebrate its 50th anniversary. Eric was a tireless and enterprising worker who built up a business which was long-lasting and successful. He was honest, reliable and his word was his bond, and a handshake was an utterly unshakeable agreement. His met and married his wife Moreen in 1942 and they had six children and almost 60 years of a loving and devoted married life. With Moreen’s help, Eric achieved a life that stood out well above others. He will be dearly missed by his friends and loving family.
John Raymond Kirkby (his son) and Steve McGregor
The Spitfire Association