Ross Smith, image courtesy State Library of South Australia B6101
Smith, Ross – January 1917
Reco of Rafa position
Landed at Kilo 143 with Macnamara so as to get an early start in the morning for the attack on RAFA.
ANZAC MT.D. DIV. attacked RAFA. Mac & I left … at daylight & we went over RAFA soon after sunrise. I did artillery co-operation & contact patrol all day & did 9 hrs & 5 mins in the air which is I think a record for any observer for one day on this front. … Jones & Muir bombed BEERSHEBA.
Out to RAFA again … We found the Bedouins we clearing up the battle field & looting everything they could find.
… After the RAFA fight the Turks started to dig in about 5 miles W of SHELLAL … We flew over the position at 2,700 ft. & got a great surprise when they started to archie us.They were pretty good too & it was my first experience of archies. They are not so bad as being shelled on the ground but it’s a nasty sensation waiting for the next one to burst. One good thing is that you can’t hear the screech of the shell as its coming like you can on the ground, unless its very close, but they make a nasty noise if they go off at all near you…
Started for BEERSHEBA in the morning with Mcnamara but had to turn back owing to clouds. We went again in the afternoon & 7 other bombing machines came with us.
Reco of BEERSHEBA with Roberts. 12 bombing machines came too & did good work on the aerodrome & camps.
Started at 8.40 A.M. on Reco to Jerusalem & Jericho. (We were going the day before but our machine 7133 would not start & we had to change the magnetoes.)… We flew over GAZA & then to BETHLEHEM and JERUSALEM, then out to JERICHO, back to JERUSALEM and then down over HEBRON and BEERSHEBA and home via SHELLAL. It was a perfect day & we could see nearly all Palestine from 10,000 ft. We had no Huns or archies to worry us so had a fine trip & I think we were the first British airmen to fly over Jerusalem & Jericho. I took 2 photos…
Jan 21st. & 22nd.
Two horrible days, very windy & the sand blew about a lot. Some showers of rain but not enough to keep the sand down.
Reco of Gaza and BEERSHEBA with Capt. Williams. It was cloudy & they fired one archie at us at B/SABA. It was a beautiful shot & hit us in several places, one piece hit me on the foot. They only fired the one shot.
The Huns had evacuated their aerodrome at BEERSHEBA early in January & we did not know where their new ?drome was… I went out with Roberts … We went over TINE & JUNCTION STATION & then to RAMLE & found the Hun aerodrome just S of the town. This was the first reco of these parts & we got a lot of information.