02 January, 2012

02 January 1944

No letter today. Just this:

Route of the Question Mark

(A) Failon to (B) Aisne, Belgium (16 miles)
23 December 1944 to 2 January 1945

January 2... Aisne. The cold uncomfortable houses, the mess-hall by the stream, and the CP a mile away from everything. The miserable inhabitants of this town, and the half-man, half-woman stalking around with a brick under his or her arm. The epidemic of colds, and Capt [Stanley A.] SARGENT using all his maps to keep us informed of the progress of the battle.

Aisne, Belgium with Stream
(From Google Maps)


about Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay

Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay

Born in London into an old Scottish family on 20 January 1883, Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay entered the Royal Navy in 1898 and saw extensive service during World War I. Reaching Flag rank in 1935, he retired three years later. Coaxed back by Winston Churchill in 1939, he was promoted to Vice Admiral and given command at Dover. In this position, he masterminded the British evacuation from Dunkirk in May-June of 1940. Within the underground tunnels beneath Dover Castle, he and his staff worked for nine days straight to rescue troops trapped in France by the German forces. “Operation Dynamo” lasted from 26 May to 4 June 1940 and evacuated 338,226 British and allied soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk.

Churchill and Ramsay planning for Dunkirk

Knighted for his efforts, Ramsay soon became an expert at amphibious warfare and was instrumental in developing the plans for Operation Torch in North Africa (1942) and the invasion of Sicily (1943). With the end of the latter campaign, he was given command of naval forces for the invasion of Normandy. Overseeing Operation Neptune, Ramsay effectively led the naval element of the D-Day landings in Normandy on 6 June 1944. As Allied troops stormed ashore, Ramsay's ships provided fire support and also began aiding in the rapid build-up of men and supplies.

As the invasion date had neared, Ramsay had defused a potential conflict between Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and the British Sovereign, King George VI, when Churchill informed the King that he intended to observe the D-Day landings from aboard HMS Belfast, a cruiser assigned to bombardment duty for the operation. The King, himself a seasoned sailor and a veteran of the battle of Jutland in the First World War likewise announced that he would accompany his Prime Minister. The two were at civil loggerheads until meeting with Admiral Ramsay who flatly refused to take the responsibility for the safety of either of these two luminaries. Ramsay cited the danger to both the King and the Prime Minister, the risks of the planned operational duties of HMS Belfast, and the fact that both the King and Churchill would be needed ashore in case the landings went badly and immediate decisions were required. This settled the matter and both Winston Churchill and King George VI remained ashore on D-Day.

In September of 1944 Ramsay began advocating for the rapid capture of Antwerp and its sea approaches as he anticipated that Allied ground forces might outrun their supply lines from Normandy. Unconvinced, Eisenhower failed to quickly secure the Scheldt River which led to the city and instead pushed forward with Operation Market-Garden in the Netherlands. As a result, a supply crisis did develop which necessitated a protracted fight for the Scheldt. Ramsay's last operation was the Allied attack on Walcheren, which allowed the port of Antwerp to be used by the Allies.

On 2 January 1945, Ramsay, who was in Paris, departed for a meeting with Montgomery in Brussels. Leaving from an airfield in Toussus-le-Noble, his Lockheed Hudson crashed during takeoff and Ramsay and four others were killed. He was 62 years old.

No comments:

Post a Comment