Admiral Sir Bertram Home Ramsay KCB
- January 2
) was a British admiral
during World War II
. He was an important contributor in the field of amphibious warfare
He was born in London
in an old Scottish
family, and attended the Colchester Royal Grammar School
. In 1898, he joined the Royal Navy
. Serving on HMS Britannia
, he became an midshipman
within a year. Following his promotion, he was transferred to HMS Crescent
World War I
During World War I
he was assigned his first command, the "M 25", a small monitor
, in August 1915. For two years his ship was part of the Dover Patrol
off the Belgian
coast. On October 1917 he took command of another Dover Patrol vessel, the destroyer HMS Broke
On May 9, 1918, his ship took part in the Second Ostend Raid, a follow up to the Zeebrugge Raid, and he was mentioned in despatches.
Resigning from the Navy in 1938, he was recalled a year later to help deal with the Axis threat.
World War II
Promoted to Vice-Admiral
, he was placed in charge of the Dover
area of operations on August 24, 1939. His duties included overseeing the defense against possible destroyer raids, protection of cross-Channel
military traffic and the denial of the passage through the Straits of Dover
As Vice-Admiral Dover he was responsible for the Dunkirk evacuation
, codenamed Operation Dynamo
. Working from the underground tunnels beneath Dover Castle
, he and his staff worked for nine days straight to rescue troops trapped in France
by the German
For his success in bringing home 338,226 British and allied soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk, he was asked to personally report on the operation to the King and was awarded a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath.
After Operation Dynamo
was completed, he was faced with the enormous problems of defending the waters off Dover from the expected German invasion
. For nearly two years, he commanded forces striving to maintain control against the Germans, gaining a second Mention in Despatches
Ramsay was to be appointed as Naval Force Commander for the invasion of Europe
on April 29, 1942, but the invasion was postponed and he was transferred to become deputy Naval commander of the Allied
invasion of North Africa
Under the Allied Naval Commander of the Expeditionary Force, Sir Andrew Cunningham, Ramsay planned the landing efforts.
During the Allied invasion of Sicily
in July 1943, he was Naval Commanding Officer, Eastern Task Force and prepared the amphibious landings.
Although the men fighting on the beaches of Normandy
richly deserve the attention given to their efforts, the job of the naval forces was also of vital importance. In 1944, Ramsay was appointed Naval Commander in Chief of the Allied Naval Expeditionary Force for the invasion.
On January 2
, he was killed when his plane crashed
on takeoff at Toussus-le-Noble
. He was on route to a conference with General Bernard Montgomery
. He defused a potential conflict between Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and the British Sovereign, King George VI, when Churchill informed the king that he intended to observe the D-Day landings from onboard HMS Belfast, a British cruiser assigned to bombardment duty for the operation. The King, himself a seasoned sailor and a veteran of the battle of Jutland in the First World War likewise announced that he would accompany his Prime Minister. The two were at civil loggerheads until meeting with Admiral Ramsay who flatly refused to take the responsibility for the safety of either of these two luminaries. Ramsay cited the danger to both the king and the prime minister, the risks of the planned operational duties of HMS Belfast, and the fact that both the King and Churchill would be needed ashore in case the landings went badly and immediate decisions were required. This settled the matter and both Winston Churchill and King George VI remained ashore on D-Day.
A statue of Ramsay was erected in November 2000 at Dover Castle, close to where he planned the Dunkirk evacuation.
- Woodward, David: Ramsay at War. The Fighting Life of Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay. – London: W. Kimber, 1957