Ross Smith, image courtesy State Library of South Australia B6101
Smith, Ross – March 1917
Was sent out with Steele to do an “all clear” reco. We thought the NURAN position looked different so went on to it & found it had been completely evacuated except for a few cavalry. It was Steeles first trip over the lines. We were quite low & when I pointed the Cavalry out to him he thought I meant he was to “zoom” them so he went down & zoomed them from about 200 ft. They scattered everywhere & several horses bolted. Capt. Hoyen & Lt. Palmer & Lt. Barlow of 14 Sqdn. were lost about this time & all taken prisoners.
Reco with Capt. Williams to GAZA, AKRA & HARIERA. We were flying low over AKRA and they shot away 2 of our main flying wires with an archie so we turned for home. The Turks were just starting to dig in around GAZA, AKRA & HARIERA & it looked as if that was to be their new line after the evacuation fo NURAN & SHELLAL…
Reco with Capt. Williams to A AUJA & BEERSHEBA. Our machine was badly shot up by archies over BEERSHEBA. We ran into 3 Huns coming home but they did not attack & we could not attack them because they were miles too fast for us.
The 1st Anniversary of this Squadron’s leaving Australia. We had a very fine dinner.
March 20th. or 21st.
During another bomb raid on the railway near the WADI HESY Ruther ford had a forced landing. Macnamara pulled off his bombs & went down to his rescue. One bomb burst prematurely & wounded Mac in the leg. He landed & picked up Rutherford but crashed his Martinsyde taking off. They burnt it & went back to Rutherfords 2c & got it going & Mac then flew Rutherford home. It was a jolly fine stunt on Mac’s part.
Reco of GAZA with Winter-Irving. I had to look for gun positions & report on the nature of the ground round GAZA & whether it was suitable to attack over.
… We moved up to RAFA aerodrome. It is not a bad spot & nice & green with the aerodrome on the side of a hill.
The first attack on GAZA commenced at daylight. …The Turks had no archies so we were able to fly low and spot their guns but their machine guns made it pretty hot for us at times…
The attack continued and we were very busy… These Turks had marched up from HARIERA to try & get on our flank & were very thirsty. There was a well out in the open near the Wadi & in spite of the shells the Turks kept going out to the well for water. It seemed very inhuman to be shelling men who must have been half mad with thirst but I soon got over those sentiments when I looked round & saw our own men lying dead up towards GAZA… a terribly hot day & we were half cooked even when flying & the engines got very hot.
… Hyam & Rutherford were doing Artillery Co-op. over GAZA & were shot down by a Hun & both were wounded. Hyam died later on the Hospital train at EL ARISH. On the morning of the 26th Gibbs & Williamson of 14 Sqdn took off from RAFA & the machine stalled & caught fire when it crashed. Both were killed…