Skip to main content

The Papers of Admiral Sir Bertram Home Ramsay

Reference Code: GBR/0014/RMSY

Scope and Contents

The collection spans Admiral Ramsay's career from life as a midshipman to the D-Day landings. Included is his draft manuscript giving a full account of the reasons for his resignation as Chief of Staff of the Home Fleet in 1935, and his subsequent temporary retirement. Operation Dynamo is also well covered with three bound volumes of naval despatches but there is relatively little on the Normandy landings of 1944. This is due to many papers being destroyed in France by Admiral Ramsay's secretary after his death.


  • Creation: 1885 - 2006

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holders and should seek advice from Archives Centre staff.

Biographical / Historical

Ramsay was born in 1883 the son of Brigadier General W. A. Ramsay. In 1898 he entered the Royal Navy. Ramsay commanded M.25 and HMS Broke in the Dover Patrol, 1915-1919. He then accompanied Lord Jellicoe on his mission to India and the Dominions, 1919-20 He commanded HMS Weymouth, 1924-25, and HMS Danae, 1925-27. He served on the Staff of the Royal Naval War College, 1927-29 and in 1929 he married Helen Menzies and they later had two sons. Ramsay commanded HMS Kent, 1929-1931 and as Chief of Staff to Admiral Sir Arthur Waistell Commander in Chief of the China Squadron. He served on the Staff of the Imperial Defence College, 1931-33 and then commanded HMS Royal Sovereign, 1933-1935. In 1935 Ramsay was promoted to Rear Admiral and Chief of Staff to the Commander of the Home Fleet, Sir Roger Backhouse, the appointment lasted four months. He remained on the Active List until 1938 when he was placed on the Retired List where he remained until 1944. Later that year he was promoted to Vice Admiral after the Munich Crisis. Ramsay spent the years 1939-1942 as Flag Officer commanding Dover. In 1940 he was responsible for the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk in Operation Dynamo. In 1942 Ramsay was appointed Deputy Naval Commander-in-Chief to work with Eisenhower in the invasion of North Africa (Operation Torch) and in 1943 he was Naval Commander for Montgomery in the invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky). In 1944 Ramsay was the Allied Naval Commander-in-Chief Expeditionary Force for the D-Day landings in Normandy (Operation Neptune- the naval side of Operation Overlord) and he was promoted to Admiral. Ramsay died on 2nd January 1945 when the plane he was travelling in crashed in France.


20 archive box(es)

Language of Materials



The material was in reasonable order, having been listed by the family chronologically within main sections of Admiral Ramsay's career. This order was largely maintained, when the papers were catalogued in 1987, with an additional biographical section that includes more personal items.

Other Finding Aids

A copy of this finding aid is available for consultation at Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge, at the National Register of Archives, and on the Janus website

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers of Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay were deposited at Churchill College by his son, Major-General Charles Ramsay in 1986. Professor John Major and David Ramsay deposited additional biographical material in 1993, while further Ramsay material was deposited by Charles Ramsay in 1990, 1994 and 2007.

Related Materials

Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge, also holds the papers of Admiral Sir William Fisher (GBR/014/WWFI), Admiral Sir James Somerville (GBR/014/SMVL) and Admiral Sir Reginald Ernle-Erle-Drax (GBR/014/DRAX). More papers relating to Admiral Ramsay are held in the Hugill Papers, GBR 0014/HUGL.


"Full Cycle: The Biography of Admiral Sir Bertram Home Ramsay" written by Rear-Admiral W. S. Chalmers was published in 1959 by Hodder & Stoughton.


This file level description to the papers was prepared by Louise King of Churchill Archives Centre in June 2004 using the original catalogue which was compiled in 1987 and "Full Cycle" a biography by Rear-Admiral Chalmers.


Ramsay, Sir Bertram Home, 1883-1945, Knight, Admiral

2004-05-26 16:58:06+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Churchill Archives Centre Repository

Churchill Archives Centre
Churchill College
Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB3 0DS United Kingdom
+44 (0)1223 336087