11 Squadron R.F.C.
Aug. 3rd 1917.
Dear Mrs. Robertson,
It was only on return from leave yesterday that Major Maclean got your letter and as he had to rush away again on temporary duty he asked me to answer it for him. Your husband had an observer with him, Sgt. Carr, and was flying in a formation of eight machines.
Now I think it is best to be quite frank with you and tell you the facts as I know them. Nearly all, if not all of the others on the formation reported that your husband's machine had been hit by a direct hit from Archie and went down completely out of control and our anti-aircraft later reported they had seen the machine crash and that it then seemed to be on fire. As to your husband’s fate, it is impossible to say.
One hears of the most miraculous escapes and we heard the other day of one of the occupants of another machine of ours, which had gone down in flames, being a prisoner in Germany.
Please forgive me if this letter has hurt you but I feel sure you would rather know the true facts.
There is always a chance but I can not hold out too much hope.
I should like to add that your husband not returning was quite the biggest blow we have had since I've been with the Squadron (about a week less than he had) and we all hope that we may one day hear he is a prisoner. We are all so very fond of him and are always talking about "dear old Robbie"
Your husband’s kit was sent to Cox Co. and any papers and other articles of intrinsic value sent to the O.A.G. Base and I hope both have reached you intact by now.
If there is anything else I can do for you, please let me know.
I should like to say how very much I sympathize with you and how much we all hope news may be heard soon that he is safe.
(sd) William Ripley,