Mastermind of Dunkirk and D-Day

The Vision of Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay

Brian Izzard

The first modern biography of Bertram Ramsay, the man who masterminded the Dunkirk evacuation and the D-Day landings.
Publication date:
March 2020
Publisher :
Casemate Publishers
Illustration :
30 images
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ISBN : 9781612008387

Dimensions : 229 X 152 mm
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• Interest in the evacuation of Dunkirk, planned by Ramsay, has been high since the global success of the film Dunkirk
• The book also assesses Ramsay's integral part in the planning of D-Day, which remains the best-known military action of modern times
• 2020 is the 80th anniversary of the evacuation, which saw 330,000 soldiers plucked from the beaches and brought back to Britain to fight another day
• This new biography is based in part on new material, including Ramsay's own personal papers and letters

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 338,000 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.

After forty years in the Royal Navy he was forced to retire in 1938 after falling out with a future First Sea Lord but months later, with war looming, he was given a new post. 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 centre-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.


Brian Izzard has written a fascinating and complete biography that is a delight to read of the man described as the "mastermind of amphibious operations”. Very highly recommended.

Warships World

Brian Izzard has written a splendid, much needed and long overdue full biography of Admiral Ramsay, with access to far more material, significant amounts of it formerly classified, than that available to WS Chalmers with his much earlier biography, written sixty years ago. But the book also includes an excellent history of Operation Dynamo, the amazing story of the Dunkirk evacuation, it is the best account that I have read of that incredible strategic rescue of the BEF (British Expeditionary Force).

This reviewer is firmly of the opinion that many of the best histories are written by journalists or former journalists. This book is no exception. The author is a journalist of vast experience who also happens to write great military history. He certainly has a talent for weaving a fascinating and readable tale … [a] quite personal but very inspiring biography.
Baird Maritime

This is a thoroughly enjoyable book, easy to read, and informative.
Naval Review

Well and attractively written and a good read.

Navy News

This excellent modern biography is long overdue, superbly written and will hopefully help restore the worthy prominence owed to one of Britain's greatest naval officers.
Britain at War Magazine

‘'This is a fascinating… account of a great admiral's life and times.''
Warships International