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Local Heroes WW1

SMITH, Ross Macpherson

Captain Sir Ross Macpherson Smith, KBE, DFC (2 Bars), MC (Bar), AFC (1892–1922)

Captain Ross Macpherson Smith was born in Semaphore, SA 1892. A Warehouseman prior to enlistment on 19th August 1914 and embarked from Outer Harbour, SA with the 3rd Light Horse Regiment, B Squadron on board HMAT A17 Port Lincoln on 22 October 1914. He was Returned to Australia 23 March 1920.

Regimental number                            217
Place of birth 4 December 1892 at Semaphore, Adelaide, South Australia
Religion Church of England
Occupation Warehouseman
Address Stephen Terrace, Gilberton, South Australia
Marital status Single
Age at embarkation 21
Height 5' 9"
Weight 157 lbs
Next of kin Mother, Mrs. J. Smith, Stephen Terrace, Gilberton, South Australia
Previous military service Yes. AM Cadets (Worlds Tour) 6 mos. 10th A.I.R. (12 mos.)
Enlistment date 19/8/1914
Place of enlistment Morphettville, South Australia
Rank on enlistment Sergeant
Unit name 3rd Light Horse Regiment, B Squadron
AWM Embarkation Roll number                            10/8/2001
Embarkation details Unit embarked from Adelaide, South Australia, on board HMAT A17 Port Lincoln on 22 October 1914
Rank from Nominal Roll Captain
Unit from Nominal Roll Australian Flying Corps
Medals  
   
 Military Cross "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when his pilot descended to the rescue of an officer who had been forced to land. On landing he held the enemy at bay with his revolver, thus enabling his pilot to rescue the officer and to safely fly away his machine."
   Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 140
   Date: 27 August 1917
   
Bar to Military Cross "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He was one of two pilots who carried ouot a remarkable series of photographs in one flight, completely covering an important area of 45 square miles. On a later occasion he successfully bombed an important bridge head from a low altitude, and his work throughout, as well as his photography, has been invaluable, and characterized by the most consistent gallantry."
   Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 191
   Date: 12 December 1918
   
Discharge date 23/5/1920
Other details Commenced return to Australia by aeroplane, 12 November 1919; disembarked Adelaide, 23 March 1920; discharged (appointment terminated), Adelaide, 23 May 1920.
Medals: Distinguished Flying Cross and 2 Bars, Military Cross and Bar, Air Force Cross, MSBV
Date of death

15/6/1922

Age at death 29
Place of burial North Road Church of England Cemetery, Adelaide, South Australia

Millitary-Cross-with-bar-REL38950.001Ross Smith Australian Imperial Force

Ross joined the Australian Mounted Cadets and was selected in 1910 to tour Britain and the United States of America as a South Australian representative. He then joined the 10th Australian Regiment, the Adelaide Rifles. Before the outbreak of war in 1914 Ross was employed as a warehouseman in Adelaide for G. P. Harris Scarfe & Co.

In August 1914 he enlisted with in a week of the out break of war as a private in the 3rd Light Horse Regiment, Australian Imperial Force, and on 1 October was promoted sergeant. He embarked for Egypt on 22 October and landed on Gallipoli on 13 May 1915.

On 11 August he attained the rank of regimental sergeant major and was commissioned second lieutenant on 5 September. Invalided to England in October, he was promoted lieutenant on 1 March 1916 and three weeks later embarked for Egypt to rejoin his old regiment.

With the 1st Light Horse Brigade, 1st Machine-Gun Squadron, his principal action occurred during the battle of Romani on 4 August 1916. In July 1917 he responded to a call for volunteers to join the Australian Flying Corps, the transfer taking effect on 4 August.

Ross Smith Australian Flying Corps


Qualifying as an observer in December 1916, and later as a pilot, he served mainly with No.1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps (No. 67 Squadron R.F.C.), a general purpose squadron flying a variety of aircraft in defence of the Suez Canal zone. In January 1918 it was re-equipped with the Bristol Fighter and designated a fighter squadron. As such the squadron was an important element of General (Lord) Allenby's 1918 offensive and took part in the overwhelming air attacks on the Turkish armies in the Wady Fara.

By the end of the war Ross had twice been decorated with the Military Cross and three times with the Distinguished Flying Cross. Later he was to add the Air Force Cross for non-operational flying. The first Military Cross was awarded while Ross, still an observer, landed in the face of the enemy to rescue a fellow officer who had been brought down. Bombing and photography and air to air combats brought the other operational awards.


Smith-Ross-P03631.013

Frank Hurley
Captain Ross Smith (left), his observer, and their Bristol Fighter, Palestine, February 1918
print from Paget plate
P03631.013

Captain Ross Smith, MC and bar, DFC and two bars, an ace who served with No. 1 Squadron AFC in the Middle East, made the first flight from England to Australia with his brother Keith in 1919. He was killed in a flying accident in 1922.

Ross Smith Aviator

On 12 November 1919, assisted by his brother Keith and two mechanics, Wally Shiers and Jim Bennett, he set out to fly from England to Australia in a large Vickers Vimy bomber. It was an epic 28-day flight, completed at an average speed of 137 kilometres per hour, but not without mishap. On their arrival, the pioneering flyers were welcomed home as national heroes; their £10,000 prize money was shared equally. The two brothers were knighted.

In April 1922, while preparing for a record-breaking around the world flight, Smith and Bennett were killed in a crash. Keith Smith witnessed the death of his brother, who was not yet 30. Their famous Vimy aircraft was displayed at the Australian War Memorial, but is now in the Smiths’ home town, Adelaide. AWM

Smith-Ross-RC02337

ID number     RC02337
Title     Envelope: First Aerial Post Great Britain to Australia 1919
Classification     Published Collection
Object type     Philately
Place made     Australia: Victoria, Melbourne
Date made     1919
Measurement     Overall: 10.3 x 13.3 cm
Copying provision     Copying permitted subject to physical condition

Description

Envelope addressed the the Director Commonwealth War Museum ( Australian War Memorial). A commemorative label is attached, celebrating the first air mail between Great Britain and Australia. The label has been cancelled with a cachet 'First Aerial Mail - Great Briatin to Australia - Received 26 February 1920'.It also has a cachet reading 'Per Vickers "Vimy" Aeroplane to Australia' which Keith Smith applied to some items of mail.

 

On 12 November 1919 Ross Macpherson Smith, Keith Smith, JM Bennett and WH Shiers left London in a Vickers Vimy aircraft in the England-Australia Air Race. They arrived in Darwin on 10 December 1919. In their aircraft was the first air mail to Australia from London. The aircraft later went on to Melbourne, arriving on 25 February 1920.

 

The commemorative label was designed by AIF war artist Lieutenant GC Benson and printed in Melbourne. The label was attached to the mail after arrival in Melbourne. 576 labels were made, 150 were destroyed. 364 were attached to the air mail. Some of the unused 87 labels were presented to officials and the crew members of the aircraft.


Smith-Ross-PRG280 1 40 192

Arrival of Sir Ross Smith's body at Outer Harbour

DESCRIPTION    A small party of grave-faced men carrying their hats walking in front of a horse drawn vehicle bringing the body of the famous aviator, Sir Ross Smith ashore at Outer Harbour, South Australia after his death in an air crash at Weybridge, England
    DATE    1922 - SLSA: PRG 208/1/40/192

 

   Smith-Ross-B876

Funeral of Sir Ross Smith

    DESCRIPTION    [General description] Two men in uniform march alongside the flower laden bier on its way past the Children's Hospital. Sir Ross' flying goggles and gloves are displayed on his flag draped coffin. [On front of photograph] 'The body passing the Children's Hospital / Reproduced in the "Observer", June 24, 1922 / Funeral of Sir Ross Smith / June 15, 1922'
    DATE    1922


 

PARTICULARS OF SERVICE OF THE A.I.F. OF Captain Sir Ross Macpherson SMITH, KBE, MC. DFC, AFC, 67th Squadron A FC
Issues to Inspector General:
  
28/08/1914 Enlisted in the A.I.F., and allotted to 3rd Light Horse Regiment as PTE.
22/10/1914 Embarked for Active Service Abroad
9/05/1915 Proceeded to join M.E.F. Gallipoli
11/08/1915 Prom. H.S.M.
5/09/1915 Promoted 2nd Lieutenant
12/09/1915 Admitted to No. 1 Aus. Stat. Hpl., Lemnos, - Enteritis, slight
15/10/1915 Transferred to H.S. “Caledonia” for Gibraltar
30/10/1915 Transferred to England
4/11/1915 Admitted to 3rd London General Hospital, Wandsworth
4/02/1916 T.O.S. Aus. & N.Z. Base, Weymouth
1/03/1916 Appointed Lieutenant, Tamailia
1/03/1916 Placed on Supernumerary List Tamailia
25/03/1916 Returned with No. 26 Draft, to join M.E.F.
5/04/1916 Disembarked Alexandria.
3/05/1916 Rejoined Regt, Girga, from England
3/05/1916 Posted from Super. List, to 3rd L.H. Regiment
18/07/1916 Trans. M.O. Squadron, 1st L.H. Brigade
23/07/1916 T.O.S. 1st M. G. Squadron
23/07/1916 Seconded to 1st A.M.G. Squadron
24/10/1916 Transferred to R.F.C.
24/10/1916 Attached for instruction in Aerial Observ.
15/10/1916 Seconded to A.F.C. and posted to duty.
26/12/1916 Graded qualified Observer
26/12/1916 Appointed Flying Officer (Observer) with seniority from 6-10-16
14/02/1917 Attached to 57th Res. Squadron
19/02/1917 Ceased to be attached
AWARDED THE MILITARY CROSS for Gallantry and devotion
30/04/1917 Ceased to be attached on reporting to No. 3 School of Military Aeronautics
30/04/1917 Reported and attached to No. 3 School of Mil. Aeronatuics
24/05/1917 Transferred to 57th Res. Squadron and attached.
30/05/1917 Returned from Special duty to 57th Squadron (Res)
7/06/1917 Ceased to be attached to 57th Squadron (Res)
7/06/1917 Attached to 22nd Res. Squadron, ex 57th Squadron
26/06/1917 Transferred to 23rd Res. Sqdrn ex 22nd Res Sqdrn
3/07/1917 Transferred to Aerial Gunnery School and attached 23rd Res Sqdrn R.F.C
3/07/1917 Graded as Flying Officer, subject to War Officer Approval. Transferred to 67th Sqdrn, previous notification cancelled from seconded to now 3/7/17
3/07/1917 To take seniority
3/07/1917 Graded as Pilot, Posted to 2nd Res Wing on graduation
11/07/1917 Graded as Flying Officer subject to W.O. Approval and qualified to wear wings
16/07/1917 T.O.S. 67th Sqdrn, R.F.C., from 20th Res Wing.
1/09/1917 WOUNDED IN ACTION and admitted to Hospital
3/09/1917 Transferred to 14th Aus. Gen. Hospital Abassia, G.S.W Head
18/09/1917 Transferred to No. 10 Red Cross Hospital, Ibrahimiah, G.S.W. Scalp and cheek.
29/09/1917 Discharged to Duty
29/09/1917 Rejoined 67th Sqdrn R.F.C. from Hospital
29/09/1917 WOUNDED (Aeroplane accident) remained at Duty
29/11/1917 To be CAPTAIN, temp. Flight Comdr
29/11/1917 Graded as a Flight Comdr and to be CAPTAIN
22/12/1917 AWARDED BAR TO MILITARY CROSS
25/07/1918 AWARDED DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS
29/11/1918 Proceeded to Handley Page Aeroplane, to Mesopotamia, and India Reported at Wing H.C. Peshawar for temp duty 23/7/19 att. To No. 31 Squadron, R.A.F for temp duty 25/7/19.
   

Honours

Captain Ross Smith was certainly entitled to wear two ‘Wounded Stripes’ on the left forearm sleeve of his tunic. When he was first wounded on 1st of September, 1917 with G.S.W. to the face and Scalp. On the second occasion29/11/1917 it was the result of "Wounded (Aeroplane Accident) Remained on Duty". From 336,931 Australians who embarked for overseas service (excluding the RAN), there were 155,133 ‘woundings’ (including gassing and shell-shock). There were 5,583 Australian soldiers wounded three times, 807 four times, 105 five times and 10 six times. One soldier is recorded as having been wounded seven times.

WOUND-STRIPES2

This was a strip of narrow gold Russia braid, two inches in length, worn perpendicularly on the left sleeve of the jacket to mark each occasion a soldier was wounded badly enough to be evacuated from the front line.

Honours

AWARDED THE MILITARY CROSS

His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to confer the Military Cross on the undermentioned Officers And Warrant Officers in recognition of their gallantry and devotion to duty in theField:—


Lt. Ross Macpherson Smith, Aust'. Light Horse R attd. Aust. R.F.C.

"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when his pilot descended to the rescue of an officer who had been forced to land. On landing he held the enemy at bay with his revolver, thus enabling his pilot to rescue the officer and to safely fly away his machine."

London Gazette:  Dated 11th May 1917, Promulgated in Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, 27th  August 1917

AWARDED THE DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS

“HIS MAJESTY THE KING has been graciously pleased to confer the above award on the undermentioned officer of the Royal Air Force, in recognition of gallantry in flying operations against the enemy:-

 

Captain ROSS MACPHERSON SMITH, M.C.

 

During the Months of June July these officers (Captain Smith and Lieutenant Kirk) accounted for two enemy machines, and they have been conspicuous for Gallantry and initiative in attacking ground targets, frequently at low altitudes. The Keenness and fine example set by these Officers cannot be over-estimated”

London Gazette, dated 8th February, 1919 , Promulgated in Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, No. 61, dated 23rd May, 1919.

AWARDED A BAR TO THE DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS

“HIS MAJESTY THE KING has been graciously pleased to confer the above award on the undermentioned officer of the Royal Air Force, in recognition of gallantry in flying operations against the enemy:-

 

Captain ROSS MACPHERSON SMITH, M.C., D.F.C.

 

During the operations prior to October,1918, he took part in numerous engagements involving flights of 150 to 200 miles, and succeeded in doing extensive damage to the enemy's ahngers, railways, &c. Captain Smith displayed most consistent gallantry with marked ability in all his work, whether bombing by night or day or in personal encounters in the air. Whilst operating with Sheriffian forces he destroyed one enemy machine and brought down two others out of control in the desert ”

London Gazette, dated 8th February, 1919, Promulgated in Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, No. 61, dated 23rd May, 1919.

AWARDED A SECOND BAR TO THE DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS

“HIS MAJESTY THE KING has been graciously pleased to confer the above award on the undermentioned officer of the Royal Air Force, in recognition of gallantry in flying operations against the enemy:- Captain ROSS MACPHERSON SMITH, M.C., D.F.C.”

London Gazette, dated 8th February, 1919, Promulgated in Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, No. 61, dated 23rd May, 1919.

AWARDED THE AIR FORCE CROSS

“HIS MAJESTY THE KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the above award to the undermentioned officer of the Royal Air Force, in recognition of distinguished services rendered during the war:-

Captain ROSS MACPHERSON SMITH, M.C., D.F.C.”

London Gazette, dated 3rd June, 1919, Promulgated in Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, No. 113, dated 6th October, 1919.

CENTRAL CHANCERY OF THE ORDER OF KNIGHTHOOD

“THE KING has been graciously pleased to give orders for the following appointment to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, in recognition of the valuable services rendered to aviation by the recent successful flight from England to Australia:- Captain ROSS MACPHERSON SMITH, M.C., D.F.C., A.F.C.”

London Gazette, dated 26th December, 1919, Promulgated in Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, No. 35, dated 15th April, 1920

AWARDED  HEJAZ ORDER OF THE NAHDA, FOURTH CLASS


The Order of the Al Nahda (Renaissance) which was bestowed by King Hussain Bin Ali of the Hijaz upon British subjects for their services during the Great War when British troops freed the Kingdom from Turkish rule. The highest class awarded was with Brilliants. There followed 4 other classes of diminishing importance.


London Gazette, dated 1st  April 1920, Promulgated in Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, 8th  July 1920.


Captain Ross Smith was later awarded the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal Trio  on the 31 of July 1920.

The 1914-15 Star rewarded operational service within a theatre of war between the commencement of hostilities on 5 August 1914 and 31 December 1915. Almost 2.3 million Stars were awarded throughout the Commonwealth, of which 82,000 were awarded to Australians serving in an Australian unit.

The British War Medal 1914-1920 was awarded to members of British and Imperial forces for service between the outbreak of hostilities on 5 August 1914 and the Armistice on 11 November 1918, although eligibility was extended to include service in various theatres up to 1920. There were 338,000 medals in silver awarded to Australians.

The Victory Medal 1914-1919 was awarded to members of British and Imperial forces for operational service only, between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918, although eligibility was extended to include service in various theatres during 1919. There were 336,000 medals in silver awarded to Australians.

1914-1915-star-australian-military-medalsbritish-war-medal-1914-1920victory-medal

1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal Trio



Whaite-HG image-4The Semaphore War Memorial was dedicated in 1925 to honour all of those from the district who fought in the war, such as Captain Ross Smith.

Local commemoration


The Semaphore War Memorial on the Esplanade was dedicated in 1925 to honour all of those from the district who fought in the war. A temporary ‘Memorial Arch’ of wood and iron was first erected at the entrance to the Semaphore Jetty bearing the banner title, ‘For King & Empire’. On 27 April 1924, four foundation stones for the new memorial were laid at the approach to the jetty – one on behalf of the citizens of Port Adelaide district, one for the RSSILA, one on behalf of the parents of the fallen men, and one on behalf of the widows and orphans.


The following year, a granite obelisk was erected on the foundation stones, with an electric ‘turret type’ clock and topped by a marble Angel of Peace with wings outspread. The local newspaper noted, “all the names of those who enlisted from the district or who made the supreme sacrifice cannot be placed on the monument” so it instead bears a simple commemorative plaque.


Whaite-HG-5
On 27 April 1924, four foundation stones for the Semaphore War Memorial were laid at the approach to the jetty – including this stone laid by Colonel Charles Philip Butler DSO (ex-43rd Battalion AIF) on behalf of the returned sailors and soldiers such as Captain Ross Smith.

Semaphore & Port Adelaide RSL


For the 2015 commemoration of the Anzac Centenary, the Semaphore & Port Adelaide RSL has created a virtual Honour Board listing the names of over 2,000 local men who volunteered to serve in World War 1. Among them are counted Ross Smith, a Warehouseman and a Twice wounded veteran of service in Gallipoli, France and Egypt.

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Help find Stories Photos to our Honour Boards

Saluting Service: Keeping Our History Alive

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Discovering Our Locals

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Discover Our WW1 Local Heroes

SMITH, Ross Macpherson

SMITH, Ross Macpherson


Regimental number                            217 Place of birth 4 December 1892 at Semaphore, Adelaide, South Australia Religion Church of England Occupation Warehouseman Address Stephen Terrace, Gilberton, South Australia Marital status Single Age at…

CHAPLIN, Lancelot George

CHAPLIN, Lancelot George


Regimental number 3780 Religion Church of England Occupation Farmer Address Princes Street, Alberton, South Australia Marital status Single Age at embarkation 18 Next of kin Sister, Mrs H T Davis, 53 Alexander Street…

 ASHMEADE, Alec Roy

ASHMEADE, Alec Roy


Regimental number 1879 Religion Church of England Occupation Driver Address Melbourne Place, Alberton, South Australia Marital status Single Age at embarkation 18 Next of kin Mother, Mrs Emma May Ashmeade, Melbourne Place, Alberton…

ANTONSON, Albert Bernard

ANTONSON, Albert Bernard


Regimental number 1451 Religion Roman Catholic Occupation Horse driver Address Langham Place, Portland, South Australia Marital status Single Age at embarkation 23 Next of kin Mrs M Antonson, Langham Place, Portland, South Australia Enlistment…