Ross Smith, image courtesy State Library of South Australia B6101
Smith, Ross – September 1918
Sept. 20th 1918.
My dearest Mother
We are in the midst of another advance so we are all very busy. Things are going very well and our mounted troops have gone miles and are nearly up to Nazareth and Haifa. It started yesterday morning and I had the honour of opening our attack just before dawn by bombing a big railway junction in my big machine. It was good bombing too & we did a lot of damage.
Last night I went out twice and bombed the Hun aerodrome at Jenin both times. Jenin is the place that I have “sat over” so often so I know it very well. Mustard is flying with me again & drops the bombs & between us we made an awful mess of the place. Out of the 32 big bombs we dropped, we got 27 direct hits among the hangars & on the railway station! The fellows who went out there this morning say that the place is like a scrap heap & there are lots of wings & other bits of machines about & hangars blown up etc. It was a great nights work & I am very pleased with the result. I have got a very good bomb sight and can do very accurate work with it.
I love this night flying stunt on the big H.P. machine, it is glorious up there at night… The moon was very bright too and everything below looked so helpless and absolutely at our mercy.
I’m not going out to-night, there is nothing much left to break up. All available machines have been going out all day long with bombs & machine guns & dropping their bombs & shooting up the retreating enemy & then coming back & going straight out again with another load. This show has been (& is still) a great triumph for the Flying Corps, not a single Hun machine has been in the air… This Sqdn. alone dropped 5 tons of bombs & fired 20,000 rounds at the enemy yesterday.
Our last recon out to-day reported Jenin in flames. Our troops are nearly there and the Huns are burning everything to prevent us getting it… It is a wonderful show & we have taken thousands of prisoners, & tons of material… I’m very fit & enjoying myself but they still wont let me fly my Bristol in the day time which is rather annoying as I’m missing a lot of fun. However I’ve done great execution so I should not complain…
Goodnight Maw & very much love from your loving son. Ruff.
Sept. 24th 1918.
My dear Paw,
I have had 2 letters from you to-day and very many thanks for your congratulations on my D.F.C. I knew you would be pleased about it and it’s quite a nice thing to have.
You will have read of our great victory and our work is just beginning to ease off and we are not at all sorry because we are all tired of the killing. It has been one of the most sensational victories in warfare & we have captured almost all the Turkish army & what is left we should have in a day or two. In 3 days we captured over 2,000 sq. miles of country and over 30,000 prisoners, besides great quantities of transport and material. The success of the whole show has been largely due to the Air Service and not a Hun machine appeared over our troops during the whole of the fighting. The attack started on the 19th & I had the honour of beginning it by bombing a railway junction at about 3 A.M. with my big machine. The Infantry then attacked at dawn & captured the whole of the Turks front line on the coast & the Cavalry went through the gap & away up round the back of them. It was childs play after that & we broke up all their telegraph & telephone offices with bombs so none of the enemy knew what had p happened & as they retired they walked right into our cavalry who collared them. At dawn on the 19th also, our Scout machines went out & sat over the Hun’s main aerodrome at Jenin all day & not a Hun machine could get off. Then as soon as it was dark I started off & unloaded my 16 112 lb. bombs on Jenin & repeated the dose a few hours later. It was exceptionally good bombing too & next morning the place resembled a scrap heap. Some of the Huns got away from there but they burnt 11 machines & all their hangars & stores etc. before they went. I flew up there next day & saw the damage my big bombs had done and it was an awful mess.
All our Bristols in the Sqdn. were out most of the day bombing & machine gunning & the slaughter was appalling. In places we caught large bodies of the enemy in narrow passes where they could not get away.
The day before yesterday (22nd) I had to go out in my Bristol to the Hedjaz army away east of the Jordan. Some Huns had been bombing the Sherrif of Mecca’s army & by good luck 3 came along while I was there. I took off & shot one down & my observer (Mustard) set fire to him on the ground with machine gun fire. The other 2 got away. All the Arabs saw the scrap & when I landed I got a great reception. One old Sheikh pulled out his revolver & fired its 6 round off as fast as he could. Soon after landing 3 more machines came along & I took off again but the swine, altho’ 3 to 1, would not fight & 2 went down & landed with me well on their tails. The other chap made for his aerodrome but had a good start & managed to land just as I was 4 getting into range. However I fired while he was landing & he bumped badly & I followed him down to 10 ft. & then did a climbing turn over their hangars & came back to the Arabs. They were greatly bucked at the show and it did a lot of good because those Huns had been bombing them for several days & they were too far away for us to reach them from here.
That same afternoon I took the big machine over there with a load of petrol & landed. You never saw such excitement as there was & the machine made the greatest impression. The son of the King of the Hejaz was there to see us & I was presented to him with great honours.
Last night I was out that way again & bombed a big station & the Hun aerodrome with good results. Today the Huns have all cleared out from there too & burnt some machines that they could not get away. It is great sport flying at night & there has been a fine moon & my big machine has been going very well.
I am glad shearing is going off well Paw & Mutooroo should pay a good dividend this year. I have increased my pay allotment to 10/- per day from 4th Oct. 1918 & have made it payable to Maw so it will be easier to collect in future…
Goodbye for now Paw & very much love from your loving son Ross.