Jerrard as an officer of the South Staffordshire Regiment
|Born||3 December 1897
|Died||14 May 1968 (aged 70)
Lyme Regis, Devon
|Buried||Exeter & Devon Crematorium
Headstone at Hillingdon Churchyard
|Service/branch|| Royal Flying Corps
Royal Air Force
|Years of service||1916-1933|
|Unit||5th South Staffordshire Regiment;
No. 19 Squadron RFC;
No. 66 Squadron RFC
|Battles/wars||World War I
Russian Civil War
Bronze Medal of Military Valor (Italy)
Flight Lieutenant Alan Jerrard VC (3 December 1897 – 14 May 1968) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Jerrard was born in Lewisham in 1897 and moved in 1902 with his family to Sutton Coldfield where his father was headmaster of Bishop Vesey's Grammar School for 24 years . Later Jerrard attended Oundle School in Northamptonshire and Birmingham University.
World War 1
From mid-1917, he served in No. 19 Squadron RFC in France, but he was injured in an air crash on 5 August 1917, flying a SPAD VII. From 22 February 1918, he served in No. 66 Squadron RFC in Italy, as a Lieutenant, flying Sopwith Camels. Between 27 February and 21 March he scored four aerial victories, including one balloon.
He was awarded the VC for the following deed:
On 30 March 1918 near Mansuè, Italy, Lieutenant Jerrard, with two other officers, Peter Carpenter and Harold Ross Eycott-Martin, on offensive patrol, shot down one of five enemy aircraft. Then flying at 50 ft. he attacked an aerodrome with some 19 machines either landing or attempting to take off. After destroying one of these he was attacked by more enemy aircraft but, seeing a brother-officer in difficulties, went to assist him, destroying a third enemy machine, then continued his attacks, only retreating, with five machines in pursuit, on the orders of the patrol leader. Even then, he repeatedly turned to beat off the enemy until finally forced down.
After the war records revealed that the Camel's opponents were four Austrian Albatros D.III (Oef) fighters, one of which was damaged and had to land, while another pilot was injured by a bullet. Jerrard was shot down by the ace Benno Fiala von Fernbrugg from Flik 51/J, and became a prisoner of war. Although the RFC credited Jerrard with 3 claims on this date, Jerrard himself did not claim to destroy any planes in that skirmish, only that he claimed to shoot one up. He was the only Camel pilot to be awarded a VC.
He remained a prisoner until the end of 1918, when he managed to escape and reach Allied lines. He later served in Russia in 1919 and achieved the rank of Flight Lieutenant.
Jerrard's VC and other medals are displayed on rotation at The Lord Ashcroft Gallery: Extraordinary Heroes exhibition in the Imperial War Museum.
- Monuments to Courage (David Harvey, 1999)
- The Register of the Victoria Cross (This England, 1997)
- VCs of the First World War - Air VCs (P G Cooksley, 1999)
- The Aerodrome