Out in Italy, a patrol from 66 Squadron RFC, with Lieutenant Alan Jerrard, Captain Peter Carpenter, MC and Lieutenant Harold Ross Eycott-Martin, was flying over Borgo del Moli when they engaged a group of Austrian Albatros DIIIs. The official medal citation takes up the story:
“When on an offensive patrol with two other officers he attacked five enemy aeroplanes and shot down one in flames, following it down within one hundred feet of the ground.
He then attacked an enemy aerodrome from a height of only fifty feet from the ground, and, engaging single-handed some nineteen machines, which were either landing or attempting to take off, succeeded in destroying one of them, which crashed on the aerodrome. A large number of machines attacked him, and whilst thus fully occupied he observed that one of the pilots of his patrol was in difficulties. He went immediately to his assistance, regardless of his own personal safety, and destroyed a third enemy machine.
Fresh enemy aeroplanes continued to rise from the aerodrome, which he attacked one after another, and only retreated, still engaged with five enemy machines, when ordered to do so by his patrol leader. Although apparently wounded, this very gallant officer turned repeatedly, and attacked single-handed the pursuing machines, until he was eventually overwhelmed by numbers and driven to the ground.”
Gerrard was credited with three official victories for this action, though he claimed at least six. He was eventually brought down and taken prisoner. The fact that he survived almost completely unscathed is something of a miracle as his Sopwith Camel (B5648) had 163 bullet holes in it.
For the action, Gerrard was awarded the Victoria Cross, and Carpenter and Eycott-Ross were awarded the Military Cross. Due to his capture Jerrard was eventually presented with his Victoria Cross by George V at Buckingham Palace on 5 April 1919.