Ross Smith, image courtesy State Library of South Australia B6101
Smith, Ross – January 1918
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.
About 10 of our machines bombed Afule aerodrome & Austin crashed a scout which came up at them. I was on a reco & did not go with the raid.
Bomb raid on Jenin aerodrome. I had done a reco in the morning so did not go. We lost 2 machines. It was cloudy & a Hun Scout got into the formation & shot up Hewitt of 112 Sqdn on an R.E. 8. As Hewitt fell he crashed into Jack Pott’s machine & took that down too. Hewitt & Bailey & Potts were all killed but Parkinson was only injured & was captured. He wrote & told us about this afterwards. We were all sorry to lose Jack Potts. He was a fine little chap & a good pilot.
Escorted a reco in the morning. In the afternoon a Hun 2 seater came over our aerodrome. We were all very surprised as he was the first one to venture so far behind our lines. Several of us took off after him. Davidson in a B.F. of 111 Sqdn. caught up to the Hun at Jaffa but was wounded in the foot and had to land. I was just getting near enough to dive but the Hun went into clouds & I lost him. I caught the evening train for Cairo to bring up a new Bristol…
I went out to the aerodrome at Heliopolis and found that Major Stent of 111 Sqdn. had just left for Mejdel on the Bristol that I had been sent up for. There was a Martinsyde nearly ready so I wired to the Squadron asking if I might wait & bring it. The Major replied that I might…
Escorted 5 photo machines with Sutherland. We were doing a very big photo job about this time & had to take about 300 sq. miles of country. Generally 5 photo machines went out & flew parallel to each other about 1000 yds apart & their strips of photos overlapped. In this way we got a lot of country at once. Two or 3 Bristols would escort the photo machines & it was rather a hard job because they were all spread out so much…
Poole & Hancock were shot down behind the lines by archie in my machine, A 7202. Their machine was hit over Tul Keram & they almost made our lines but had to land just inside the Turkish trenches. They burnt the machine & were taken prisoner. Brown & Finlay were out with them & went down low but had no hope of picking them up as they had landed in broken ground & right amongst the Turks. …
Some reinforcements were at Suez so Coates & I flew down in the 2E to pick some of them out for this Sqdn…
Coates selected the men we wanted in the morning. There were about 2000 Australians in camp, mostly Infantry reinforcements…
Coates & I returned to Mejdel via Kantara…
Flew a new Bristol B1150 up to Mejdel. I had a good wind behind me and averaged 135 miles an hour (ground speed) for the trip…
Mustard & I went up to test a new wide angle camera. We were going up to 20,000 ft. but at about 19,000 we were both so nearly frozen that we had to take the photos from there & then come down. I’ve never been so painfully cold in my life before, & breathing at that height was quite difficult.
Butler & I went up to Jenin aerodrome & dropped some kit for Poole, Hancock & Parkinson. We tied parachutes onto the kit bags & they all opened & appeared to work very well. In the evening Drummond, Addison, Mustard, Fysh & myself left by train for 10 days leave in Cairo.