Ross Smith, image courtesy State Library of South Australia B6101
Smith, Ross – October 1918
Oct 7th 1918.
Mother my dearest.
I have firstly some more good news for you, namely that I have been given a Bar to my D.F.C. I never expected this one because it’s only 2 months since I got my first D.F.C. My total is gradually increasing & this makes 4 decorations I’ve got now & they have all been immediate awards for some special job or jobs. What a smart son you have Maw!! I think this one must be for the bombing in the Hanley & also for breaking up those Huns that day…
I think I told you in my last letter that I was getting ready to move. We have since moved & the whole Sqdn. is here now. The aerodrome is quite good & our camp is pitched on the lower slopes of Mount Carmel. It is an awfully pretty place and the tents are among olive trees and from my door I look out across the Bay to Acre & can see the Mountains of Lebanon & Mt. Hermon away in the distance. We are quite close to the sea too & the swimming is very good… Our troops have long since taken Damascus & I am going to fly over there to-morrow & land & wait in case any stray Hun comes along. None of us have seen a Hun machine for about 2 weeks & things are very slow in our line.
… I’m flying my dear old Bristol again. She is still as good as ever and I have done well over 200 hours flying in her. I have still got the same 2 mechanics on her too. I think it would be very nice if you sent them each a parcel occasionally if you have the time… My engineman is Corp. A.H. Luxton & my rigger is 1st A/M J.C. Bull & their address is the same as mine. If you put a little note inside them & told them who you were I’m sure they would be very bucked.
…I am applying for leave on the 18th of this month and hope to go to Cairo if it is granted.
We have taken over 80,000 prisoners since Sept 19th & have completely captured 2 Army Corps. Our casualties have been remarkably light too & the Light Horse have had very few. There is a lot of talk about 1914 men getting leave home & we understand that some from France are already on the way. So far we have heard nothing official about us out here but I think something is being arranged so I may have a chance with that lot. I hope so anyway…
… I am making up 3 parcels for you & will send them off when I can. One is a tin tube containing a black cross off a Hun Scout. Another contains 4 photo frames made out of propeller tips & the other the ink stand I told you about & a few other small things. I hope they get through safely but I may not be able to send them until the postal people get more established up this way.
It is getting quite wintery & we have had some rain here already.
Goodnight Maw & very much love from your loving son Ruff.
Oct 24th 1918.
My dearest Mother,
Wonders will never cease! Do you know I’ve just been told I got a second Bar to my D.F.C.!! It is so much of a surprise that I thought I’d write and tell you about it straight away. The getting of it was all so simple too and for once I know what this Bar is for, without having to wait a few months until they publish something in the London Gazette.
It happened thus. – A few days ago, the 19th to be exact, I went out accompanied by Headlam in another machine to do a reco of Aleppo. We had to land for petrol at Homs and just after we had filled up & were ready to take off again a Hun 2 seater came over us very high up. We both took off after him but I did not sight him for about half an hour & he was then still well above us. He continued to climb & we finally got within range when we got up to 18,000 ft. It was’nt much of a scrap because the Hun made straight for earth & went down in a steep spiral & it is almost impossible to hit a machine when it is spiralling. The Hun landed safely in open country about 25 miles S.W. of Aleppo, which was then about 30 miles behind his own lines. Both pilot & observer got out & ran about 300 yds. away. I then went down low & my observer, McCann, shot up the machine several times but altho’ it was obviously well holed it would’nt catch fire & burn up. I eventually got fed up & was seized with the brilliant idea of landing & burning the machine & capturing the pilot and observer & bringing them home with me, so down I went & landed. We signalled to the Huns & McCann covered them with his guns while they stood about 30 yds from us doing the “Kamerad” stunt. However, we had landed on rather soft ground & I decided that it would be very unwise to attempt to get my machine off again with 2 extra on board so I was very reluctantly forced to leave them there but before we took off McCann fired a Very’s Light into the machine & it burned up in fine style. If you could only have seen the look on the 2 Huns! I nearly died with laughter at their expressions as they saw their machine go up in smoke & it’s quite the funniest thing I’ve ever seen! I am only sorry I could’nt bring them home & complete the capture …
The day after our little show Gen. Boston brought an artist chap up to see me & I had to give him details about it and he is going to draw it for a collection of “Incidents of the Campaign”. It will be “some” picture too from what I saw of the rough sketch. I’ll try & get a copy if I can and send you one.
Our jobs are very long now & to do a recon \from here/ means flying nearly all day. Yesterday I was in the air over 7 hours & over 8 the day before so I’m having a spell to-day. Yesterday I went up about 20 miles north of Aleppo so if you look at your map you will see that is a good way from where I started from.
I have got a new scheme now for getting leave out to see you but I don’t know if it will work. It is very unlikely at present but I want to fly all the way if I can! I can’t say anymore about it & I don’t want you to speak about it but I’m pretty sure to fly about half way in any case, that is if the present arrangement holds good & I think it will. I’ll tell you more in my next letter and you can put two & two together. With luck I should start in about a month but that also is uncertain. I’m quite excited about it already.
… Kenny has just come in & we are eating some of your cake now & we have both been groping round for the shilling which you said was in it but so far it has not – (yes it has. Kenny has just found it only it is a 2/- piece so I’m 2 bob richer now. The cake is excellent Maw & Kenny says I’m to tell you so…
It is 2 years to-day since I joined the Sqdn. at Kantara & I have now done 800 hours flying, 200 observing & 600 as a pilot. Contrary to the general rule I still feel as fit as ever & could easily do another 800 hrs. if necessary but I want to get home more than anything now. Anyway its very safe flying these a days & there is not much to worry about in the shape of Huns or archies & as for getting captured, well the war will be over soon so what’s the odds. I was very sorry to hear about poor Douglas & I’ve written a note to Auntie. He was such a fine boy too & looked so well when I saw him at Suez.
I must stop now & pack my bag ready for the morning. I’m going down by rail & its quite a journey now.
Goodnight Maw & very much love from your loving son Ruff.