Ross Smith, image courtesy State Library of South Australia B6101
Smith, Ross – November 1918
Nov. 12th 1918.
My dearest Mother,
It is quite hard to realise that peace has come at last & that there is no more war. We got the news here yesterday afternoon and of course there were great rejoicings & goings on. This hotel presented a wild & woolly appearance at about 12 last night, there were tug-of-wars with carpets going on, pillow fights & football scrums & the big lounge was the principal stadium.
To-night will probably be worse as everyone is in great spirits & there are bands of school children etc. parading the streets with flags of all sorts. I came down 10 days ago on leave & should have gone back to the Sqdn. on Sunday but I have been detained here on Special Duty. There is a new Hanley Page just arrived & I have taken it over & am standing by to fly it to Salonika and bring Gen. Salmond back here or wherever he wants to go…
After that have another fine job. Gen. Borton [Amyas Eden Borton] & I are going to fly my own Hanley Page to India & when we get there we do a tour of India and are then going to try and fly on to Australia!! Does’nt it sound thrilling! I think we will be able to manage the job but it will take time. After we have seen India the General proposes to charter a small steamer and sail down the Malay Peninsular & the Islands & pick out suitable landing grounds & arrange for petrol & oil to be there when we require them. Our route roughly is as follows – Cairo to Damascus, Damascus to Baghdad, then to Basra & down the Persian Gulf to Bombay, then Calcutta & across the North end of the Bay of Bengall & down to Singapore. From there I’m not sure of the route yet but we will hit the North part of Australia somehow. I am very keen on the scheme & hope it all comes off….
In view of this I am not coming home just yet but I’m sure you won’t mind as all the war is over & there is no danger attached to the scheme…
I am having a good time in Cairo & enjoying the relaxation. My collection of decorations cause a lot of comment & people will stare at them so. It certainly is very unusual to have 3 Bars on 2 ribbons.
I sent you a cable as soon as I arrived here telling you about being awarded a second Bar to my D.F.C. & it looks very nice but the 2 Bars almost hide the ribbon…
Some of our prisoners are back from Turkey, Heathcoate & Rutherford among them. I have not seen them but I think they are off to Australia in a few days.
I’m so glad we have licked those damned Huns & the only pity is that we can’t go on killing them.
Nov. 13th …
Quite a lot of Cairo was broken up last night & numerous shops cleared out. I’m jolly glad they were too because the shops have done nothing but rob us for the last 4 years. Had I been a private I would have been well in the looting myself.
If you see Dora Horwood will you tell her that I fixed Bill Bowd’s grave up and had flowers put on it on Oct 25th. That was the day Bill was killed & Dora wrote & asked me to put some flowers on his grave on the day…
… I must take this round to Jack now so goodbye Maw. I will see you again soon & we will have an awful lot to talk about. It is quite wonderful to have come through all these years & still be alive.
My best love to Paw & I will write to him later.
With very much love from your loving son Ross.
Shepheards Hotel, Cairo.
28 Nov 1918
My dearest Mother,
I have just got your birthday cable Maw & many thanks for it.
I’m leaving for Baghdad in the morning & taking Gens Salmond & Borton with me in my Hanley Page. We go as far as Damascus to-morrow & then on to Baghdad on the next day. After that I bring Gen. Salmond back here again in a few days & then fly over to Baghdad again, pick up Gen Borton & we then go on to India, all by Hanley Page. After about 2 months in India we are going to try & fly on to Australia but we will have to find landing grounds somewhere first round Singapore way. This will be the first aerial trip to Baghdad & there is great excitement about it.
I’ve been having a fine time here & lots of dances & things. I’ve been to one tonight given by a Russian Grand Duke, the chap who killed Rasputin, & it was a nice little show but as I’m flying tomorrow I had to leave early.
The Commander in Chief entered the city a few days ago & rode thro’ the streets. There was a big crowd & I flew over him all the time in my Hanley & acted as aerial escort.
I sent you a cable to-day saying I was going to Baghdad.
I must pack now & then to bed as its very late. My best love to Paw.
Goodnight Maw & very much love from your loving Ruff.