|Sir Bertram Home Ramsay|
Ramsay in 1943
20 January 1883|
|Died||2 January 1945
|Years of service||1898 - 1945|
|Awards||Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Member of the Royal Victorian Order
Mention in Despatches (two)
Légion d'honneur (France)
Legion of Merit (United States)
Order of Ushakov (USSR)
He was born in London, into an old family (see Ramsay Baronets), and attended Colchester Royal Grammar School. In 1898, he joined the Royal Navy. Serving on HMS Britannia, he became a 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. In October 1917 he took command of another Dover Patrol vessel, the destroyer HMS Broke.
World War II
Promoted to Vice-Admiral, he was placed in charge of the Dover area of operations on 24 August 1939. His duties included overseeing the defence against possible destroyer raids, the protection of cross-Channel military traffic and the denial of the passage through the Straits of Dover by submarines.
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 forces.
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 King George VI and was made 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 the Naval Force Commander for the invasion of Europe on 29 April 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.
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 aboard HMS Belfast, a cruiser assigned to bombardment duties 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 at home 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.
He was re-instated to the Active List on 26 April 1944 and promoted to the rank of Admiral on 27 April 1944.
Although the men fighting on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day 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 2 January 1945, he was killed when his plane crashed on takeoff at Toussus-le-Noble, southwest of Paris. He was en-route to a conference with General Bernard Montgomery in Brussels. His body was buried in Saint-Germain-en-Laye New Communal Cemetery. A memorial to all who died in the crash was erected at Toussus-le-Noble in May 1993; photographs of the memorial can be seen here.
- Mentioned in Despatches - 1918, 1940
- Knight Commander of the Bath (KCB) - 1940
- Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE)
- Member of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO)
- Grand Officier of the Légion d'honneur
- Chief Commander of the Legion of Merit (United States) For gallant and distinguished service whilst in command of the invasion operations on Normandy
- Order of Ushakov, First Class (USSR) - 1944
A statue of Ramsay was erected in November 2000 at Dover Castle, close to where he had planned the Dunkirk evacuation. His involvement in it and the D-Day landings has led to several appearances as a character in film and television drama - in The Longest Day (1962, played by John Robinson), Churchill and the Generals (1979, played by Noel Johnson), Dunkirk (2004, played by Richard Bremmer) and Ike: Countdown to D-Day (2004, played by Kevin J. Wilson). His name was also recently added onto the Colchester Royal Grammar School war memorial, along with other Old Colcestrians who had been omitted. A portrait is also to be put up in the school.
- Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay at www.dover-kent.co.uk
- Sumner, Ian. British Commanders of World War II, By, page 32 (Google books)
- The Secret Wartime Tunnels at www.dover-kent.co.uk
- The London Gazette: . 5 May 1944. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
-  CWGC Casualty Report.
- The London Gazette: . 7 June 1940. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
- The London Gazette: . 3 November 1944. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
- Barnett, Correlli. 1991. Engage the Enemy More Closely: The Royal Navy in the Second World War. Norton & Company. London.
- Woodward, David. 1957.Ramsay at War. The Fighting Life of Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay. – London: W. Kimber.
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