Ramsay: retreat and return
Operation Dynamo 1940
The German attack into western Europe in May 1940 led to the allied armies rapidly retreating. By late May, the British Expeditionary Force and parts of the French and Belgian armies were trapped and facing death and destruction on the French coast.
Vice-Admiral Ramsay had less than a week to plan Operation Dynamo to rescue the stranded army from Dunkirk. Officials thought that only 45,000 soldiers could be saved. Yet, under his inspired command, over 900 ships and boats of the Royal Navy Merchant Navy, allied navies and civilian volunteers (the Little Ships) evacuated over 338,000 men in just ten days, often under intense German attacks.
Operation Neptune 1944
Admiral Ramsay was allied Naval Commander-in-Chief for Operation Neptune, the naval side of Operation Overlord, the allied invasion of Europe on D-Day, 6 June 1944. His planning ensured that an enormous invasion fleet (6, 33 vessels) took troops and equipment to the landing beaches and supported them by shelling the German defences.
On the first day alone 130,000 men landed in Normandy.
What to see
The maps engraved in the pavement below show the evacuation routes for Operation Dynamo and the main routes of Operation Neptune.
( photo captions )
The drama of the last day of evacuation, with troops still being taken off the shore while German attacks continue: 'The withdrawal from Dunkirk, June 1940' by C E Cundall RA.
- A view from a D-Day landing craft with British soldiers approaching the shore: 'From the Landing Craft Assault: we watched the 'planes dive-bombing near Le Hamel, D-Day, 6th June l 944' by J C Heath.