|Stills from the gun camera of F/Sgt Erasmus (IWM)|
Combat occurred over the Brest peninsula in the afternoon, as Allied fighters swept the area. Circus 51 was flown by bomb-carrying Whirlwinds of 263 Sqdn, escorted by various fighter units. The Whirlwinds were tasked with bombing Guipavas airfield. 193 and 266 Sqdns were to fly together as one squadron, with six aircraft from each unit taking part, and they were to operate in a free-lance role.
S/Ldr. A.S. McIntyre was shot down and killed early in the combat in Typhoon Mk.Ib JP492, by an FW 190 from about 50 m distance. F/Sgt. Derek Erasmus, a Rhodesian in Typhoon Ib EJ917, and S/Ldr. McIntyre’s Number Two, attacked the FW 190 and shot it down. F/O. J. Small was killed at this time, despite being seen to bale out of Typhoon Mk.Ib DN296.
We turned hard through 180º; I positioned myself about 500 ft above, up sun of Red 1, when he called out ‘190’s’. He went for the first of the two which rolled on its back. The second one opened fire at Red 1. I fired at this one from long range and it dived away. I turned hard port to look for Red 1 and was immediately attacked from above and behind, I turned into it and the 190 overshot.
Judging from his gun camera stills, it is clear that F/Sgt. Erasmus had downed an FW 190 with long-range tanks. There are six shots in total. In the first two, a hit can be seen in the tail. In the third a major hit is seen at the base of the port wing. In shots four, five and six, this hit develops into a major explosion covering the port side of the aircraft.
F/Sgt. Erasmus returned to base alone, and belly-landed at Portreath. The three other 266 Sqdn pilots met up, closed formation, and headed for home at low-altitude. F/Lt. Wright reported:
“I was flying as Yellow 1 and as we were coming down out of France I reported aircraft at eleven o’clock coming around to seven behind, there were about six or seven. Pinnan Leader told us to turn to port and we engaged the aircraft. Two enemy aircraft came up behind us (Yellow 1 and 2), I turned sharply warning No.2, I got a deflecting shot in at the enemy aircraft, saw strikes, enemy aircraft rolled on his back and went down.