Wallet : Lieutenant J S L Ross, No. 2 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps

Unit No. 2 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
Accession Number REL/00788
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Personal Equipment
Physical description Leather, Silver
Location Anzac Hall: Over the Front: Air Race
Maker Unknown
Place made Australia
Date made c 1916
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Rectangular brown leather wallet with three compartments for notes, coins and stamps. Handwritten in ink on the centre lining of the wallet is ' To J. S. L Ross with best wishes from Mr. and Mrs Pierce & family Oct 2nd 1916.' The wallet is fastened with a silver clasp.

History / Summary

Associated with the service of 589 Lieutenant James Stuart Leslie Ross. Ross was born in Moruya, NSW, in 1895 and was a telegraphist on enlistment in the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) on 17 August 1916. Ross embarked from Melbourne aboard HMAT Ulysses on 25 October as a member of 2 Squadron, AFC Reinforcements. He disembarked at Plymouth, England, on 28 December and was taken on strength by 68 (Australian) Squadron, Royal Flying Corps (RFC) with the rank of air mechanic 2nd class. Ross qualified as a wireless operator in February 1917, before undertaking training as a pilot. He was appointed flying officer (pilot) on 20 October and promoted to the rank of second lieutenant. Three months later on 20 January 1918 Ross was promoted to lieutenant and marched out to 28 Training Squadron, RFC, Castle Bromwich. He proceeded overseas to France on 3 April and was taken on strength by 2 Squadron, AFC. Ross was admitted to 39 General Hospital, Rouen on 18 April. On 19 May he was charged with neglecting to obey Standing Orders for Officer Patients, by entering a shop in Albert while a patient in hospital. Ross was found guilty of the charge and reprimanded. On 22 June he was discharged from hospital to 1 Aeroplane Supply Depot and rejoined 2 Squadron, AFC in the field on 18 July.

On the evening of 6 September, Ross was wounded in the right thigh while attacking a formation of Fokker D.VII fighters. He had been out on patrol over the German lines with a flight of 2 Squadron pilots when eight Fokker's appeared below them. Ross picked out one aircraft and dived vertically at it, at great speed, firing both his machine guns. However, when he was only a hundred metres away, Ross noticed another Fokker to his left rapidly climbing upwards. Ross pulled out into a zooming turn and went over the top of the latter. The German pilot fired a burst of machine gun fire from long range and one bullet went across the back of Ross's thigh leaving a cut about three inches long. Not knowing how serious his injury was Ross immediately flew back to 2 Squadron's aerodrome. His wound was dressed at nearby 51 Casualty Clearing Station before he was admitted to 8 Red Cross Hospital, Boulogne. On 27 September Ross was transferred to the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel for convalescence. He did not return to active service and was discharged to Central Training Depot, Parkhouse on 12 January 1919.

In March the Australian government announced it would award a 10,000 pound prize to the first Australian aviators to fly from England to Australia. Ross decided to enter the contest with 816 Lieutenant Roger Douglas MC, DCM. The pair was able to secure an aircraft for their attempt; a 450 h.p. Alliance aircraft nicknamed 'The Endeavour'. On 30 October, the day Ross and Douglas planned to set off, the aircraft suffered a minor crash which necessitated repairs to the chassis and body. They finally took off from Hounslow Aerodrome at 11.30 am on 13 November after bad weather further delayed their departure. The aircraft flew only six miles (9.6 km) when it appeared to fall out of a cloud over Surbiton, enter a spin, and crash into an orchard and explode. Both men were killed instantly. An Air Ministry Investigation returned a verdict of accidental death for both men. Ross and Douglas were buried with full military honours on 18 November in Brookwood Military Cemetery, Surry.