Mastermind of Dunkirk and D-Day

The Vision of Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay

Brian Izzard

The first modern biography of Bertam Ramsey, the man who masterminded the Dunkirk evacuation and the D-Day landings.
Date Published :
April 2020
Publisher :
Illustration :
30 images
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781612008387
Pages : 288
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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The first modern biography of Bertam Ramsey, the man who masterminded the Dunkirk evacuation and the D-Day landings.

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.


Chapter 1 The Banished Warrior
Chapter 2 A Ramsay Who Riled Wellington
Chapter 3 War Breaks Out
Chapter 4 New Horizons
Chapter 5 Battle of the Admirals
Chapter 6 King of the Castle
Chapter 7 The Troops Head to France
Chapter 8 Operation Dynamo
Chapters 9 to 16: Dunkirk evacuation
Chapter 17 Salute to Ramsay
Chapter 18 Mutiny
Chapter 19 Threat of Invasion
Chapter 20 1941
Chapter 21 The Great Escape
Chapter 22 Go To It!
Chapter 23 Operation Torch
Chapter 24 The Burning Torch
Chapter 25 The Tide Turns
Chapter 26 Onward to Sicily
Chapter 27 D-Day
Chapter 28 Death


"A good read for anyone interested in naval history in the era of the world wars, this is particularly useful for those interested in amphibious operations, the Allied disaster in 1940, or naval leadership."

- The NYMAS Review

‘’This is a fascinating account of a great admiral's life and times."

- Warships International Fleet Review

‘’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

'Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay came to prominence during the Second World War and his two greatest achievements were the withdrawal of British and other troops from Dunkirk in 1940 and as Naval Commander of the force that invaded Normandy in 1944. He deserves to be much better known that he is because his life and achievements have a great impact that is relevant to current and future warfare. Brian Izzard has produced a thoroughly researched biography of Bertram Ramsay, clearly analysing the admiral's approach to huge problems and the command of highly disparate forces. As well as being a master of amphibious warfare, one of the most difficult disciplines, he was also adept in the often-awkward business of coalition diplomacy, an important facet of the Second World War. This was not always evident with all the Allied commanders, but Izzard competently brings out the outstanding nature of Ramsay's ability to forge consensus among often enormous egos. The author has a keen appreciation of Ramsay's qualities and the way in which these were forged in difficult situations in war and peace. In sum, Brian Izzard has written a biography of rare accuracy, balance and clarity.'

- W. J. R. Gardner FRHistS, Author of Decoding History: the Battle of the Atlantic and Ultra

'Four great and seminal operations of World War II are vividly described in this very readable book… These operations were a huge strategic importance and massive operational significance, and the insights into their planning, especially the involvement and interactions of the key players, are as remarkable as the descriptions of the actions that took place. Laced with personal cameos and evocative descriptions of activity at the front line and accounts of the blending of that activity with the high-level staff work that went into preparation and execution, this book is an absorbingly good read. However, the golden thread running throughout is that of the narrative of the "Mastermind", Admiral Ramsay, who was at the heart of the planning of these operations. It covers his human side very well starting from the time he joined the Royal Navy, thence to love of his family, his obsession for detail and impatience with those not performing, his lack of fear of disagreeing with his superiors when he knew he was right including, on one occasion, King George VI, up to his leadership that generated a sense of hero-worship in his subordinates. Altogether they paint the picture of a truly extraordinary man.'

- Admiral of the Fleet the Lord Boyce KG GCB OBE DL, Chief of the Defence Staff 2001-3

‘’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

‘’Bryan 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.’’

- Warship World

‘’...a great read and a fine book on one of the great naval commanders of the Second World War.  It is firmly recommended to all classes of readers.’’

- Miniature Wargames

‘’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

“Well and attractively written and a good read.”

- Navy News

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

- Naval Review

"Izzard concludes by justly claiming that Ramsey’s achievements rank alongside those of Churchill, Montgomery and Dwight D. Eisenhower. This excellent biography goes a long way toward ensuring the admiral and his achievements are more widely known."

- HistoryNet

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