Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay – the forgotten architect of the Dunkirk evacuation and D-Day landings – is to be remembered at Cambridge University’s Churchill Archives Centre tomorrow (March 6).

Ramsay's undoubted contribution to the Second World War has been somewhat overshadowed

Allen Packwood

Highlights from Ramsay’s personal archive – which includes his D-Day diary, maps and photographs, eyewitness accounts from Dunkirk, and correspondence with Field Marshal Montgomery – will be on display as a distinguished army of speakers pay tribute to the man who masterminded the British landings at Normandy.

Admiral Ramsay’s role required detailed planning as well as inter-service and international diplomacy of the highest order. When Churchill suggested that he and King George VI should be allowed to witness the June 6 landings, Ramsay, according to his diary, managed to persuade both that the risk was unacceptable.

Thursday’s keynote speaker is Dr Andrew Gordon, a British naval historian currently putting the finishing touches to an eagerly-anticipated biography of Ramsay. The biography, a preview of which will be given at Churchill, is a timely reminder and fitting memorial to Ramsay who was killed in 1945 when his plane crashed in France, en-route to meet Montgomery in Brussels.

Joining Dr Gordon will be Commodore Michael Clapp, commander to the Falklands Amphibious Task Group during the 1982 conflict, and Mrs Fanny Hugill, a ‘Ramsay Wren’ during the Second World War, who will give a first-hand account of working with Ramsay – including her recollection of  being on duty as Operation Neptune (the landing operations of Operation Overlord) unfolded.

Also speaking during the afternoon are Sir Bertram’s two sons Charles and David Ramsay. Charles had his own eminent military career rising to the rank of Major-General, while David is a distinguished author and historian.

Allen Packwood, Director of the Churchill Archives Centre, said: “Sadly, because of Admiral Ramsay’s untimely death, his undoubted contribution to the Second World War has been somewhat overshadowed by those who lived and were able to write their memoirs and receive their honours. It’s fitting that almost 70 years after he oversaw Operation Neptune, we have such a distinguished array of speakers coming together to celebrate and consider his legacy.

“The Churchill Archives Centre is home to Ramsay’s personal papers, all of which have been hugely important to Dr Gordon’s research and will continue to be of great value to historians looking at this crucial period of British history.”

The event is free and press and public are welcome to attend.


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