At 11.48am on 10 December 1919 – the final day of the epic flight – Ross and Keith Smith spotted a plume of smoke from HMAS Sydney, which had been ordered to patrol the sea between Timor and Port Darwin in case the Vimy crew needed assistance. Ross flew low and Keith dropped a hastily-written message of thanks in an Escoffier pickle jar with a little parachute. Keith’s message read:
“The Air, 10/12/19, Vickers Vimy, The Commander, H.M.A.S., Very glad to see you. Many thanks for looking after us. Going strong. Keith Smith, Ross Smith, Sgt. J. Bennett, Sgt. W. H. Shiers”
In 1922, Captain H. Cayley, Commander of HMAS Sydney, donated the message and pickle jar to the State Library of New South Wales, which also holds some of Keith Smith’s flight maps and souvenirs of the epic flight in its Vickers Vimy collection. Images courtesy of the State Library of NSW.