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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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453 Squadron Crest
27.02.1945 No. 453 Squadron Spitfire Vb BL516 FU-F W/Cdr. Ratten DFC

Operation: Hospitalised

Date: 27th February 1945

Unit: No. 453 Squadron RAAF (motto: 'Ready to strike')

C/O. No. 11 Personnel Dispatch and Reception Centre, Bournemouth

Type: Spitfire Vb

Serial: BL516

Code: FU-F

Base: RAF Matlaske, satellite of RAF Coltishall, Norfolk

Pilot: W/Cdr. John Richard Ratten DFC. AUS/405111 RAAF Age 35. Died

REASON FOR LOSS:

Whilst with 72 Squadron claimed his first Fw190 on the 17th May 1942 and another win the 31st May 1942. During 1943 serving then with 453 Squadron claimed 1 damaged, shared 3 others destroyed, 2 confirmed and another probable although he had claimed it as destroyed.

London Gazette 15th June 1943:

"Acting Sq/Ldr. John Richard Ratten No. 453 (RAAF) Squadron.This officer has completed a large number of sorties and has led the squadron and often, the wing with great skill. He has rendered excellent service, setting a most praiseworthy example. Sq/Ldr. Ratten has destroyed 1 and shared in the destruction of another enemy aircraft".

Above: Pilots of No. 453 Squadron RAAF, based at an RAF Station at Drem. L-R: Sq/Ldr. Francis Victor Morello 39256, Fl/Lt. Ronald Clyde Ford 403046, Sgt David Hayward Steele 416291 (lost on training exercise, Scotland on 28th August 1942), W/Cdr. John Richard Ratten 405111 (died of illness in the United Kingdom on 27 February 1945), Fl/Lt. Daniel Joseph Reid DFC 401666, P/O. Bennett Thomas Nossiter 403278 (lost on operations off the United Kingdom on 11 October 1942), F/O. Soliecki, Fl/Lt. Richard Joseph Darcey 408172 (accidentally killed over Manus Island on 6 October 1944). (Ranks shown were as at end of war - not at the time of this photograph)

Burial details:

Brighton Crematorium. (Downs). Panel 3. Born on the 13th November 1912 at Sheffield, Tasmania, Australia, husband of Barbara Hughill Ratten (later Alexander) of Ewing Avenue, Kingston Beach, Tasmania, the son of Victor R. Ratten and Blanche C. Ratten of 167 Macquarlie Street, Hobart, Tasmania and father to Gillian and Hugill Trevor. Enlisted on the 31st January 1941.

Following an injury to his ear during flight operations, surgeons carried out a Mastoid operation. His health deteriorated after this and he contracted a tubercular infection in both lungs. He continued to work which made the condition acute. Died of Tubercular Meningitis on the 27th February 1945.

Above: Letter written to his wife by W/Cdr. Donald Hamilton Smith

(click image to enlarge - depending upon your browser)

Advice was received today of tho death at Midhurst. Sussex, England, on February 27th 1945:

"Wing Commander John Richard Ratten, DFC, of tho RAAF, husband of Barbara Ratten, of Kingston Beach, and elder son of Dr. and Mrs. V.R. Ration, of Hobart. W/Cdr. Ratten, who was 35. Educated at the Launceston Church Grammar School and Tasmanian University. Studied mining engineering. During the period of his study ho was engaged in engineering at Queenstown, and on the completion of his course he became an Inspector of Mines for the Queensland Government.
Ho enlisted in Queensland early in the war. Trained in Canada and became an outstanding airman. After training in Canada he went to England and received rapid promotion, being made Wing Commander. The first Australian to be given command of a Spitfire fighter wing. Later he was appointed commander of an RAAF personnel despatch and reception centre in England. He is survived by his widow and two children".

Above: King George V Hospital built by the Metropolitan Asylums Board as a Tuberculosis Isolation Hospital in 1922 (originally known as Highdown Sanatorium), KGV was at the cutting edge of TB research and treatment for forty years. It was instrumental in pioneering development of drug therapy (streptomycin) to combat TB and the manufacture of Iron Lung equipment. KGV had a smaller sister hospital just 2 miles to the west, Milford Hospital (formerly Milford Sanatorium)

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks Australian Archives and to sources shown.

KTY 07.09.2019

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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