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Who masterminded Dunkirk?

Who masterminded Dunkirk?

World War 2

After Germany invaded France in May 1940, they advanced rapidly through the country and pushed the Allied forces, composed mainly of British, French, and Belgian troops, towards the English Channel.

As the German army approached the Channel, the Allied soldiers were pushed back to the coast and became trapped in a small pocket around the port city of Dunkirk.

The German army then began to attack the pocket, causing widespread panic and chaos among the Allied soldiers.


Despite their numerical superiority, the German army was unable to deliver a decisive blow to the trapped Allied soldiers due to the difficult terrain and the fierce resistance put up by the defenders.

The situation was further complicated by the lack of a clear evacuation plan for the trapped soldiers. The British government ordered the evacuation of as many soldiers as possible using any available vessels, including civilian boats. Over the course of several days, hundreds of thousands of Allied soldiers were evacuated from the beach at Dunkirk, with the last soldiers departing on June 4th, 1940.

Who masterminded the escape?

In addition to Dunkirk Royal Navy Admiral Bertram Ramsay is also an unsung hero of the Allied invasion of Normandy!

Ramsay in 1944
Royal Navy official photographer, Ware C J (Lt) – 

Why Was The Royal Navy’s 12″/50 Battleship Gun Inferior to Germany’s?

Ramsay served as the Allied Naval Commander-in-Chief, Expeditionary Force (ANCXF) for Operation Neptune. The entire D-Day Invasion became known as Operation Overlord; the naval portion was known as Operation Neptune.

Ramsay, Ike, and Montgomery

Admiral Bert Ramsey

Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay was a leader very much like General Eisenhower vein: a supreme organizer rather than a seagoing commander, directing operations from a headquarters rather than an admiral’s bridge. He was also the person behind not one but two of the greatest naval operations ever mounted. A quiet, stoic, modest person, he demanded much of his staff and himself. His attention to detail was legendary, howere he also was willing to delegate to and supervise the work of junior officers around him.

Born in London in 1883, Ramsay joined the Royal Navy in 1898 at the age of 15. He quickly rose through the ranks, earning a reputation as a skilled and innovative officer. During World War I, he commanded a monitor which help keep the German Navy out of the English channel and allow the free flow of supplies from England to the Continent.

Promoted in 1917 to the command of a destroyer which took part on a raid on a German port where he became recognized for his heroism.

Admiral Bertram Ramsay’s leadership and strategic planning skills became demonstrated during the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940.

Known as Operation Dynamo, Ramsay received appointment as the Naval Commander-in-Chief responsible for the safe evacuation of over 338,000 Allied soldiers trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk. Despite the difficult circumstances, Ramsay’s coordination of the naval operations allowed for the successful evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force and enabled them to fight another day. Ramsay’s leadership during the Dunkirk evacuation showed his ability to remain calm under pressure. In addition, to think strategically in times of crisis. He became a favorite of Prime Minister Winston Churchill for his efforts.

In 1942, Ramsay was appointed as the Allied Naval Commander for the invasion of North Africa, known as Operation Torch.

A shipment of 116 Supermarine Spitfires sent by sea was assembled in just 11 days at RAF North FrontGibraltar. Many of these Spitfires served with the United States Army Air Forces, including the aircraft in the foreground, EP 365 (308th FS31st Fighter Group).

He was responsible for coordinating the complex naval operations that supported the landings and ensuring that the troops received the supplies and reinforcements they needed to succeed. Ramsay’s experience in North Africa proved invaluable when he became appointed as the Allied Naval Commander-in-Chief Expeditionary Force (ANCXF) for the Invasion of Normandy in 1944.

Furthermore, no British officer got along better with the Americans and Eisenhower in particular than Ramsay.

He oversaw the planning and execution of the naval operations (Operation Neptune) that supported the D-Day landings, including the transport of troops and equipment across the English Channel. The plan for the naval aspect of D-Day became several inches thick. Moreover, the movement of 2,468 landing craft; 1,656 minor craft; 1,213 warships. Including 6 battleships, 23 cruisers, 81 destroyers, additionally 247 minesweepers. All had to become carefully coordinated and synchronized!

D-Day : The Full Account

Ramsay decided that the pre-invasion bombardment would only last 20 minutes in order to maintain the element of surprise. In retrospect, the defenses on Omaha Beach required a more extensive pre-invasion bombardment than 20 minutes.

Admiral Ramsay
Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay

Sadly, Ramsay did not live to see the end of the war. He died in a plane crash in January 1945, just months before Germany’s surrender.

Admiral Bertram Ramsay played a critical role at Dunkirk, in the D-Day landings and the Allied victory in World War II. His leadership and strategic vision helped to ensure that the landings were successful and that the Allied forces gained a foothold in Europe.

Written by David Fivecoat

Managing Partner of The Five Coat Consulting Group & Former US Army Paratrooper

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