Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
Teaser Image

Ramsay, Sir Bertram Home (1883–1945)

British navy admiral who was naval commander in chief for the Normandy Invasion. Born at Hampton Court Palace in England on 20 January 1883, Bertram Ramsay joined HMS Britannia in 1898 and served on the North American and Red Sea stations (including a 1903–1904 landing in British Somaliland) and on Home Fleet destroyers before World War I. During the war, he held commands with the Grand Fleet and Dover Patrol. Following World War I, Ramsay commanded cruisers and a battleship, and as a rear admiral, he was naval aide to King George V and Home Fleet chief of staff. He retired in December 1938 at the age of 55, his career apparently over.

When World War II began, Ramsay returned to active duty and received command of the port of Dover. Following the German invasion of France in May 1940, he organized and executed Operation dynamo, the successful evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkerque between 29 May and 5 June 1940, for which he was knighted. Ramsay, now with the rank of acting admiral, was assigned to planning for Operation torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa, and he directed the landings at Algiers and Oran on 8 November 1942. After the Axis collapse in North Africa, he planned the invasion of Sicily and commanded the eastern task force for the landings that began on 10 July 1943. Reinstated on the active list, he was appointed commander of British naval forces in the Mediterranean.

On 29 December 1943, Ramsay was appointed Allied naval commander in chief for the upcoming Allied invasion of Normandy. He planned and executed this huge operation, which involved more than 2,700 warships and well over 4,000 minor vessels supporting the initial landing of troops on five beaches, plus subsequent landings of troops and armor. He was criticized on occasion for his insistence on detailed planning, but he contended it was necessary given the complexity of the task, and the outcome certainly justified this assessment. For his efforts, he was promoted to full admiral on the active list in June 1944.

Ramsay turned over control of the French ports from Le Havre southward, as they were captured, to the U.S. Navy, while retaining responsibility for those to the north and east. He later directed amphibious operations to clear the South Beveland Peninsula and Walcheren Island in October and November 1944, which opened the port of Antwerp. Ramsay died on 2 January 1945 when his plane crashed on takeoff from the airfield at Toussus-le-Noble near his headquarters at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France.

Paul E. Fontenoy


Further Reading
Chalmers, W. S. Full Cycle: The Biography of Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1959.; Love, Robert W., Jr., and John Major, eds. The Year of D-Day: The 1944 Diary of Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay. Hull, UK: University of Hull Press, 1994.; Stephen, Martin. The Fighting Admirals: British Admirals of the Second World War. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1991.
 

©2011 ABC-CLIO. All rights reserved.

  About the Author/Editor
  Introduction
  Essays
  A
  B
  C
  D
  E
  F
  G
  H
  I
  J
  K
  L
  M
  N
  O
  P
  Q
  R
  S
  T
  U
  V
  W
  X
  Y
  Z
  Documents Prior to 1938
  1939 Documents
  1940 Documents
  1941 Documents
  1942 Documents
  1943 Documents
  1944 Documents
  1945 Documents
  Images
ABC-cLIO Footer