Air fighting in the Sopwith Camel - what was it like?

The early days of air combat were filled with peril for brave men entering the unknown. Andrew Thomas profiles two of the pilots who came to prominence flying the Sopwith Camel

No fewer than 231 pilots claimed five or more aerial victories, thus gaining unofficial ‘ace’ status, while flying Sopwith Camels during World War One. In addition, 29 more aces claimed at least part of their total on Sopwith’s classic. Most of these men received gallantry awards, and were highly decorated; two received the Empire’s highest award, the Victoria Cross – one of which was won for actions undertaken at the controls of a Camel…

Alan Jerrard was awarded the Victoria Cross for his heroic actions in the cockpit of a Camel
Alan Jerrard was awarded the Victoria Cross for his heroic actions in the cockpit of a Camel


Flying legend

Alan Jerrard, the recipient of that VC, was born in Lewisham, South London, on December 3, 1897. Following the outbreak of war he volunteered and joined the South Staffordshire Regiment, serving with its 5th Battalion.

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