Located on the Ground Level
- Forging the Nation: home
- National identity
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- The First World War
- Towards the future
Sir Ross Smith
Ross Smith was born in Adelaide in 1892. After service in the pre-war cadets and militia, he joined the AIF Light Horse in August 1914. He fought at Gallipoli and the battle of Romani, and in 1917 transferred to the Australian Flying Corps.
Smith became a skilful and bold pilot. He was awarded the Military Cross twice and the Distinguished Flying Cross three times for the rescue of a downed comrade, air to air combat and daring bombing and photo reconnaissance work in the Middle East. He was also awarded the Air Force Cross.
Smith gained valuable experience flying a large Handley Page 0/400 bomber. After the war he made a pioneering flight from Cairo to Calcutta, then one from Calcutta to Timor. On 12 November 1919, with his brother Keith and two mechanics, he took off from Hounslow, England, in a twin-engined Vickers Vimy to participate in the England to Australia air race. They won, landing in Darwin on 10 December. Ross and Keith were both knighted and received a share of the £10,000 prize money.
Ross Smith was killed in an air crash in 1922. He was Australia's first great pioneering airman and the most decorated member of the AIF.
W.B. McInnes First World War official war artist
Captain Ross Smith
oil on canvas
painted in Melbourne 1920
Records of a pioneering flight.
Competitor's log book completed by Ross Smith for participation in the air race from England to Australia in 1919. After their arrival in Australia, Smith, his brother Keith, and their two mechanics, J. Bennett and W. Shiers, were entertained at a state luncheon on 27 February 1920. A copy of the menu records the occasion.