Ratcliff, Leonard Fitch

Service number:
87022
Nationality:
British (1801-present, Kingdom)

Biography

Len Ratcliff joined the RAFVR in early 1939 to train as a pilot. In 1941 he completed a full tour of 30 operations in Bomber Command with No. 49 Squadron. After a rest period he was posted to 161 (Special Duties ) Sqn as Flight Commander flying agents and supplies in and out of France, Belgium, Holland, Norway and Denmark. He then spent a period in charge of A.I.2.C at the very centre of clandestine activities in the whole of occupied Europe. He returned to 161 Squadron in 1943 as Flight Commander and later Squadron commander. In 1943, he famously dropped Yvonne Cormeau, the Special Operations Executive agent codenamed Annette, into Bordeaux. Her exploits were immortalised in the 2001 film Charlotte Grey.
After the war Ratcliff became a successful grain merchant.

Promotions:
October 19th, 1940: Pilot Officer (probation)
October 19th, 1941: Flying Officer (war sub)
October 19th, 1942: Flight Lieutenant (war sub)
January 8th, 1945: Squadron Leader (war sub)

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Acting Flight Lieutenant
Unit:
49 Squadron, Royal Air Force (49 Squadron, Royal Air Force)
Awarded on:
June 26th, 1942
Action:
Citation:
"This officer has completed numerous sorties, including attacks on Frankfurt, Essen, Kiel and Hanover. All his work has been characterised by the greatest determination to reach and bomb his objective. On the night of 28th December, 1941, on the outward journey to Huls, his aircraft was intercepted by two enemy fighters. Despite bright moonlight, he skilfully evaded his attackers, and flew on to Huls where he bombed the synthetic rubber plant. On another occasion in January, 1942, when flying to attack the German warships at Brest he showed great skill which enabled his gunners to frustrate the attacks of two enemy fighters.
Flt. Lt. Ratcliff has set a very valuable example."
Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Acting Squadron Leader
Unit:
Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Awarded on:
June 2nd, 1943
Air Force Cross
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Acting Squadron Leader
Unit:
161 Squadron, Royal Air Force (161 Squadron, Royal Air Force)
Awarded on:
December 14th, 1943
Action:
Citation:
"Since being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, this officer has completed many sorties and has achieved much success. He is a most efficient flight commander, whose keenness and devotion to duty have been unfailing. On one occasion, Squadron Leader Ratcliff was detailed for an important sortie. When passing over the enemy coast he experienced engine trouble. Nevertheless, Squadron Leader Ratcliff went on to the target and sucessfully completed the operation, afterwards flying on to North Africa to make a safe landing. His effort was worthy of high praise."
Details:
Second DFC awarded as a bar for on the ribbon of the first DFC.
Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Acting Squadron Leader
Unit:
161 Squadron, Royal Air Force (161 Squadron, Royal Air Force)
Awarded on:
July 14th, 1944
Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
Action:
Citation:
"This officer has completed a very large number of sorties and has achieved much success. He is a fine leader whose ability, confidence and resolution have been reflected in the high morale of his crews. Squadron Leader Ratcliff has rendered much, loyal and devoted service."
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Acting Squadron Leader
Unit:
161 Squadron, Royal Air Force (161 Squadron, Royal Air Force)
Awarded on:
July 14th, 1944
Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
Action:
Citation:
"This officer has completed a very large number of sorties and has achieved much success. He is a fine leader whose ability, confidence and resolution have been reflected in the high morale of his crews. Squadron Leader Ratcliff has rendered much, loyal and devoted service."
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Details:
With Palm.
Croix de Guerre (1939-1945)

Sources