Ross Smith, image courtesy State Library of South Australia B6101
Smith, Ross – April 1917
Apl. 1st. to 5th
In between operations at Port Said and Kantara awaiting further missions. Resumed duties at Kilo 143 near Kantara.
From Kilo 143 to RAFA with Capt. Williams. Murray Jones fought 5 Huns out of a Martinsyde but got shot down in our lines, unhurt.
Reco to JUNCTION STATION and LATROUX with Capt. Williams.
Turner, Rhodes & I moved up to Dier-el-Belah to do Artillery Co-op. We lived with 14 Sqdn. so as to be nearer GAZA & to get the latest news from the Wing about any new targets. I was out with Capt. Williams over GAZA and we were attacked by a Hun. I put several burs bursts into him & he cleared off.
While on Artillery patrol with Capt. Williams we were attacked by 3 Huns. They dived in turn but we eventually drove them off just as I had used up all my ammunition.
Second attack on GAZA commenced. It was a foggy morning but Maturlich & I managed to be out there before 6 A.M. & got in some good work before the clouds came right over. The Tanks went into action about 7 A.M. by themselves & I saw one get knocked out by a direct firing at it, but we had some absurd rule that we could not call up a Heavy Battery ourselves & put them onto a target. Instead we had to fly back to Artillery H.Q. & wireless down the target & then wait for them to put out strips to indicate to us which of our Batteries was to take on the target. Once we got that it meant going to the Battery that was going to do the shoot & sending the target down to them & then wait until they were ready to fire. I had to do all this & it took 22 minutes. Meanwhile the poor old Tank was being shot at & was hit & set on fire about 5 minutes before I got my Battery going. We silenced the enemy Battery in 5 shots but it had done the damage & but for that absurd rule I could have saved the Tank & a good many lives. I went out again at 11.15 AM with Ellis. The clouds were very bad & there was a bank of them from 800 ft upwards. Consequently we had to do all our work under 800 ft. It was not much fun as over the enemies (sic) lines we got heavily machine gunned while over our lines we were in danger of being hit by our own shells all the time. Once the M.G fire got too hot for us so we went up into the clouds & flew round for a bit but unfortunately we came out again right over a big redoubt at QATAWINEH & got shot up a lot more. The whole attack was a failure & after loosing (sic) a lot of men we found ourselves back where we had started.
Steel went out on a Martinsyde and did not return We heard later that he had been shot down by archie and died in hospital. Gen. Dobell relieved of his command of EAST FORCE on Apl 22nd
Apl. 20th. & 22nd.
Out doing Artillery Co-op. with Macnaughton & Dawson. We heard that the Turks were using the Great Mosque in Gaza as an ammunition dump so Morgan ranged the 8” Hows [Howitzers] onto it & got a direct hit & there was a fine explosion. (Since proved to be correct.)
Flew back to RAFA from BELAH with Winter-Irving and left RAFA for Cairo that night to go to the school. Capt. Williams, Cullen& Gardiner & Thorne were on the train too.
Arrived in Cairo and had leave until the 30th.. I stopped at Shepheards and generally had a good time.