Ross Smith, image courtesy State Library of South Australia B6101
Smith, Ross – February 1917
Went out with Jones at 8.30 P.M on a night raid to NURAN. It was moonlight & we took 4 bombs, parachute flares & a lot of ammunition. We found the place easily enough & gave them a proper fireworks display. They turned a small searchlight onto us. …
Reco to NURAN, BEERSHEBA and SHARIA with Capt. Williams. We found the Turks laying a new decanville line from SHARIA to SHELLAL & came down low and machine gunned the men working on it….
Reco to AUJA & ASLUJ with Macnamara. Going along the line we came down low & machine gunned a train. The train stopped & everyone jumped out & ran for cover. Some jumped out while the train was still going…
Capt. Williams, Drummond, Cole, Morgan & I went to ISHMALIA to work in connection with the attack on NEKHL. … The attack was to be carried out by 2 columns…Both were to attack NEKHL at the same time. Our job was to watch the front & flanks of each column daily & to tell each column where the other one had got to. It was very easy work as there was nothing much to see except a few goats & Bedouin. The country is very barren & in places very hilly & rocky…
We were to go out to a place called BIR EL THEMADA & land & stay there the night so as to be ready for the attack on NEKHL early next morning. I went out with Capt. Williams & we had trouble in starting & did not get away until late. It was dark long before we got near THEMADA & I did’nt feel too happy flying round in the dark over strange country. Fortunately, Drummond, who had gone out to THEMADA earlier, lit a fire & we saw it & steered towards it. As we got closer Drummond put out flares for us & we landed safely. We had quite a picnic that night & slept under the stars with a few L.H. men who were looking after the water supply of the Northern Column.
We occupied NEKHL & captured 5 prisoners with practically no opposition… We had sent out about 1,000 men & horses over 100 miles of desert to try & capture 20 Turks! It took about 10 days for the two Colums to get there & back & all that time they had to be suppled by camel transport… It was a very cold morning & the Col. gave us each a cup of hot chicken broth which was most acceptable. The chicken had been running around NEKHL about an hour before!…
Left ISHMALIA in the afternoon & flew back to KILO 143 with Cole. “KILO 143” was the name we gave our aerodrome because there was no name for it on the map…
Ellis & I left KILO 143 for Cairo to go on leave. Murray went by train & we were to meet him in Cairo. We could not get our old 2c (4520) to go for some time & just after we started she konked out with a leaky induction pipe & we had to return. We got going again & arrived at KANTARA just before dark & filled up & got off for Cairo again. It got too dark so we went to Ishmalia for the night…
In Cairo & had a very good leave. Coates was in hospital but was allowed out. Alston & Gilmore of the K.O.S.B.’s were on leave too so we had lots of company. Murray flew a new Martinsyde back on the 26th & Ellis & I returned by train. We decorated Murrays machine with streamers before he left Heliopolis.