This is the first major biography of Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay in fifty years. Ramsay masterminded the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk in 1940. Initially, it was thought that 40,000 troops at most could be rescued. But Ramsay's planning and determination led to some 330,000 being brought back to fight another day, although the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy paid a high price in ships and men. Ramsay continued to play a crucial role in the conduct of the Second World War – the invasion of Sicily in 1943 was successful in large part due to his vision, and he had a key role in the planning and execution of the D-Day invasion – coordinating and commanding the 7,000 ships that delivered the invasion force onto the beaches of Normandy.
All this from a man who had actually retired in 1938, after forty years in the Navy. He was persuaded out of retirement by Winston Churchill in 1939, however he was not reinstated on the Active List until April 1944, at which point he was promoted to Admiral and appointed Naval Commander-in-Chief for the D-Day naval expeditionary force. Dying in a mysterious air crash in 1945, Ramsay’s legacy has been remembered by the Royal Navy but his key role in the Allied victory has been widely forgotten. After the war ended his achievements ranked alongside those of Sir Winston Churchill, Field Marshal Viscount Alanbrooke, Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery and General Dwight Eisenhower, yet he never received the public recognition he deserved.
Brian Izzard’s new biography of Ramsay puts him and his work back center-stage, arguing that Ramsay was the mastermind without whom the outcome of both Dunkirk and D-Day – and perhaps the entire war – could have been very different.