Ross Smith, image courtesy State Library of South Australia B6101
Smith, Ross – December 1917
Nov. 30th. to Dec 4th
I was unable to do any flying in on account of my leg. We were preparing to move to a new aerodrome at Julis. We had been at Nuran since the middle of Sept. It was a good aerodrome but very dusty & we had some awful days.
We move to Julis aerodrome. My leg was still in splints but I managed to fly the 2E up and it was better than having to go by tender.
Dec. 6th. to 10th
Our new ‘drome was on black soil and during these few days it poured with rain. We could not get our machines off and everything was very muddy. 111 Sqdn were on the same ‘drome.
We occupied Jerusalem.
The Turks had a position \wooden/ bridge across the Jordan and I was sent out on a Martinsyde with 2–112 lb. bombs to try and smash it. I bombed from below the level of the Mediterranean & was I think the first person to drop bombs from below sea level. One bomb fell on the road amongst some transport about 50 yds from the bridge & the other failed to explode.
We were still having trouble with the mud and so decided to move to some hard sandy ground about half way between Julis & Mejdel. We accomplished our move during the day & from then onwards had no more trouble with mud. The aerodrome was not level like our previous ones but had a small hill in the centre of it & we landed all round this. It made an excellent landing ground once we got used to it.
Voting day for the Referendum on Conscription in Australia. Some of our men were still back at Nuran taking down hangars and clearing up so I flew down with Wigg in the 2 E & collected their votes.
Mustard & I escorted a bomb raid on an RE 8 out to el Bahr at the north end of the Dead Sea. Our machines bombed the grain stores there & flew below sea level.
Our Squadron got its first 2 Bristol Fighters from 111 Sqdn. It was a great day for us as we had at last, after many months of waiting, got a decent machine to do our jobs on. The Major & I went over to 111 for them. I got Peter Drummond’s machine A 7202 in which he shot down 3 Huns in one day & got a D.S.O. for.
(Xmas Day) It was very wet and very windy and all flying was quite impossible. About 10 P.M. a terrific rain storm broke & the sky was as black as ink. Matteson was seeing some fellows home to 111 Sqdn. and must have got lost in the storm. As he had not appeared next morning we sent our search parties & late in the afternoon found him dead from exposure about 2 miles from the camp. He must have got lost & then lay down & died. Even in daylight we found it very difficult walking through the mud which was up to our ankles & all the wadis were full of water. Several men came back from the search absolutely done up. At this time we had no hangars for our machines. They were pegged down on the aerodrome. During the night a mild cyclone hit us & knocked over a number of tents and carried away 6 machines and completely crashed them. Things were in an awful mess next morning. Fortunately none of my machines broke loose but one \RE 8 / broke a lower wing. We had a very fine Xmas dinner in spite of the rain & there was lots of fizz etc. flowing.
Did my first job in a Bristol Fighter. Mustard & I escorted Haig & Austin on RE 8’s out to Amman. It was a very different sensation flying a machine that I knew was as good as any Hun to tootling round in Martinsydes & 12 A’s. To celebrate the coming in of the New Year some of us raided 111 Sqdn’s mess with Very’s lights & smoke balls, it was a great success.