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Remembering Admiral Sir Bertram Home Ramsay

Admiral Sir Bertram Home Ramsay

Bertram Ramsay joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1898 and within six years he had risen through the ranks to a Sub-Lieutenant.

During the First World War, the newly promoted Commander Ramsay was put in charge of HMS M25, a small monitor, and for two years his ship was part of the Dover Patrol off the Belgian coast.

On 9 May 1918, he commanded the destroyer HMS Broke (pictured below) at the Second Ostend Raid, a follow up to the Zeebrugge Raid, for which he was mentioned in despatches.

HMS Broke

In the interwar years, Captain Ramsay (promoted in 1925) spent a great deal of time seeing different countries as he travelled the world on HMS Danae, HMS Kent and HMS Royal Sovereign. Discovered within one of the museum’s photograph albums is a rare image of him from this period.

It shows Captain Ramsay receiving a prize at a Navy sporting event at Wei Hai Wei (now Weihai), northern China. This he attended whilst serving on HMS Kent in 1930.

Ramsay at Wei Hai Wei

Rear-Admiral Ramsay retired from the Navy in 1938 but was coaxed back by Winston Churchill one year later to help deal with the Axis threat.

He was responsible for the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940 (for which he was knighted) as well as planning and commanding the naval forces in the invasion of France in 1944. He was promoted to the rank of Admiral in April 1944.

His skill for planning was to be fondly remembered by Wren Joan Halverson Smith (née Prior) in one of the museum’s oral history interviews. Joan worked with him in Southwick House during the build-up to D-Day.

“He was a meticulous man, Admiral Ramsay, and he wanted to know where every ship was going to be, and where it was going to and what time it was going to get there, you know.  Everything had to be cut and dried…”

Ramsay's D-Day Order

On 2 January 1945, Admiral Ramsay was killed when his plane crashed on take-off at Toussus-le-Noble Airport southwest of Paris.

He was en-route to a conference with General Bernard Montgomery in Brussels. Bertram was interred in Saint-Germain-en-Laye New Communal Cemetery.

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