Pilot Officer Wills (RAF)
Sergeant Lowther (RAAF)
Squadron 456 RAAF
Number of Enemy Aircraft
Type of Enemy Aircraft
One JU.88 probably destroyed.
(Handwritten addition: Admitted Destroyed Prisoners picked up)
Download Original Combat Report
Beaufighter II T3022. Pilot, P/O Wills, Radio Observer, Sgt. Lowther (RAAF). I was ordered at 1600 hours on the 18th of May to patrol convoy "Topaz"at 2000 ft above sea level. Airborne at 1605 hours I remained under Sector Control, who vectored me South Westerly. On second orbit of "Topaz" I sighted an aircraft, which I believed at first to be a Blenheim, below and to port, I turned hard port and dived, I had recognised aircraft by now as a JU.88 which I reported to base. E/A then disappeared into sea mist at approximately 100 ft. Hoping he had not seen me I remained at 1000ft, above the mist, and increasing speed to full throttle (310 1.A.S) turned on to what I thought was his course (200°). After 8 minutes I sighted him again through the mist, below and dead ahead. I then commenced a shallow dive, overtaking him, and opening fire with cannons at 350 yds range. My observer saw what he thought was return fire from dorsal turret, closing to 250 yds I gave E/A another 1-2 second burst and then finally another 1-2 second burst at 180-200 yds range, as he was disappearing into very heavy mist. After discussion (illegible) what my observer thought was return fire, was actually H.E. shells striking E/A. Not seeing him again, I reported to base, who ordered me to return to "Topaz", and then to base and pancake.
E/A. = Enemy Aircraft
H. E. Shells - High Explosive Shells
Cannons - Beaufighter armaments - heavy armament of four 20 mm cannon mounted in the lower nose, below the cockpit and six 0.303 machine guns, four in the starboard wing and two in the port wing.
This is the airfield that Wills and Lowther were attached with 456 Squadron.
The RAF Valley airfield is situated on the island of Anglesey, Wales. It was constructed in the latter part of 1940 and opened for operations on 1 February 1941 as a Fighter Sector Station under No. 9 Group RAF with the task of providing defence cover for England's industrial north-west and shipping in the Irish Sea. Initial detachments were made by Hawker Hurricanes of 312 and 615 Squadrons. A detachment of Bristol Beaufighters of 219 Squadron provided night fighter cover.
No. 456 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) formed at Valley on 30 June 1941 and became operational on 5 September flying Boulton Paul Defiants. By November the squadron had completely re-equipped with Beaufighter IIs, and these provided defensive night patrols over the Irish Sea until March 1943, when the unit moved away. (Wikipedia)
Warrant Officer Vincent Peter Ratcliffe (A.403373)
(8/10/1919 - 2/6/43) - 23 years of age
Flight Sergeant (Pilot) Ronald Charles Lowther (A.404179)
(1/1/1916 - 2/6/1943 - 27 years of age)
Eleven months following the above incident - on 2nd of June 1943 - de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito NF Mk II, Reg: DZ308 went missing on a day intruder mission to Coutances, in France.
The Pilot was Warrant Officer Vincent Peter Ratcliffe (A.403373) and Flight Sergeant (Pilot) Ronald Charles Lowther (A.404179) was the observer when it failed to return to Middle Wallop airbase where they departed from and were stationed with the all-Australian 456 Squadron.
The aircraft was lost on its outbound journey and most likely crashed into the English Channel. Both men remain missing in action, presumed dead, and therefore have no known grave.
They are commemorated at the Runnymede Memorial - A structure erected in honor of someone whose remains lie elsewhere.
My second cousin, Vincent Ratcliffe, is the subject of his own page which is under construction.