Personal info

  • Name: William RATCLIFFE
  • D.O.B: 18th Feb, 1884
  • D.O.A: 14th Jun, 1917
  • D.O.D: 26th Mar, 1963
  • Award: Victoria Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Private, 2nd Battalion The Prince of Wales’s Volunteers (South Lancashire Regiment), 75th Brigade, 25th Division
  • Book: The Complete History - Volume 2
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Sources & Acknowledgements

Messines, Belgium 14 June 1917

14 June 1917

More details about:
The First World War 1917 

On 14 June 1917, the last day of the Battle of Messines, 2nd Battalion South Lancashire Regiment was ordered to secure the northern bank of the River Douve by capturing Ferme de la Croix, west of Warneton. The advance got beyond German machine-gun posts which were then able to fire on the British from the rear. Private W Ratcliffe, a stretcher-bearer, located one of these guns and, seizing the rifle of a dead soldier, killed its crew and captured it, before resuming stretcher-bearing.


 For most conspicuous bravery. After an enemy’s trench had been captured, Pte. Ratcliffe located an enemy machine gun which was firing on his comrades from the rear, whereupon, single-handed and on his own initiative, he immediately rushed the machine gun position and bayonetted the crew. He then brought the gun back into action in the front line. This very gallant soldier has displayed great resource on previous occasions, and has set an exceptionally fine example of devotion to duty. 

Fourth Supplement to The London Gazette of 31 July 1917. 2 August 1917, Numb. 30215, p. 7907

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