Mastermind of Dunkirk and D-Day

Mastermind of Dunkirk and D-Day

Brian Izzard
ARRSE Rating
5 Mushroom Heads
This is a long overdue book, Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsey is little known outside military and historic circles, although his letters, and diaries and personal papers still exist and are kept in the Churchill Archives Centre at Cambridge.

His work in organising Operation Dynamo and bringing back so many men, (338,000 ) when Churchill estimated 10,000 to 50,000 at most ,shows his skill knowledge and dedication and ability to plan and organise every last detail. Of course Winston knew him as a young man, as Winston served under Bertram's Father in the 4th Queens Own Hussars .

Bertram Ramsay joined the Navy in 1898 as a 15 year old cadet, and slowly worked his way up through hard work and dedication, serving with distinction in the Great War. His manner however, in the same mould as Monty, direct and to the point, caused him to end up on the retired list in 1938 for speaking his mind, upon a subject he was later proved to be correct.

However he was the man chosen for the job of protecting the port of Dover and over-seeing the defences of this major seaport, at first living in a local Hotel and then promoted to Vice Admiral Dover. His initiatives such as new minefields to deter German U boats, Patrol boats and improving the AA defence of Dover did not go unnoticed both by our troops and the Germans.

The planning of Operation Dynamo, his ability to grasp so many complex subjects, and to overcome problems earned him the respect of those around him, he really was a genius with a fast attentive mind. The book carefully details each day of Operation Dynamo, lives lost, Ships lost and the many problems that occurred, later operations that had to be shelved due to the fast German advance and the reason so many French troops remained. I did not know about the mutinies of some ships crews, necessitating the ships being taken over by Naval ratings, but it is all listed here in fantastic detail

I only knew a little about him, and that he died at an Early age and is buried in France, I had presumed through enemy action (relatives of mine spoke in awe of him, having themselves been extracted from the beaches) but no, he was killed by the actions of a pilot who was over confident and arrogant, and had been previously warned about his attitude. On New Year's Eve 1944, along with Commander George Rowell , Lt Derek Henderson and P.O. David Morgan, plus the Pilot George Lewis were killed; the report on the accident is included in this fine book. They are all buried together in the Cemetery at St Germain-en-Lay near to his HQ.

But Ramsay was so much more than D Day, Operations such as Neptune, Torch, Husky, Overlord, all came under his wing; his attention to detail and planning saved many lives, and when his advice was ignored, once again he was proved correct. All bore his mark, and he was always active and visiting his staff to make sure everything ran smoothly.

This excellent, informative and concise book covers some 280 pages and is broken down in a clear time line, along with maps, period photographs, many not seen before , and at the end of the book a record of all the vessels taking part and those lost in Operation Dynamo and Neptune. For any one interested in operation Dynamo, or planning to visit Dover Castle this book is a must read, I would suspect more than a few member of the Senior Service will read it and learn much, and any one interested in WW2 or whose relatives had cause to Thank Admiral Ramsay

I have given the book 5 mushroom heads, but its needs at least ten, their really is so much information here, much of it not widely known about, and I will not spoil the Author's hard work by quoting parts of it.

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Joshua Slocum
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