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80th Anniversary of Dunkirk #640495
26/05/20 09:03 PM
26/05/20 09:03 PM
Joined: Apr 2011
Posts: 8,445
West Paris, France
pandy Offline OP
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pandy  Offline OP
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Joined: Apr 2011
Posts: 8,445
West Paris, France
Those of you who are familiar with my scribblings over the years will know that I have a particular interest in the evacuation of Dunkirk. I've just been watching Dan Snow's documentary on BBC2, and felt the moment was ripe to re-visit Operation Dynamo. The main man behind the evacuation, Admiral Bertram Ramsay remains one of the most unsung heroes of WWII.

I am a huge admirer of Ramsay. Having retired in 1938, he returned to active duty in 1939 as Flag Officer Dover and it was he who led Operation Dynamo, evacuating 340 000 British and French troops. He was extremely forceful in making a reluctant Admiralty provide ships and was instrumental in the success of the operation. Without Ramsay, it's likely that the number taken off the beaches would have been only a tenth of the number finally saved.

He went on to organize the Torch landings on North Africa, then the Operation Husky landings in Sicily and was C in C allied naval forces for the Normandy Landings (Operation Neptune), having over 6000 ships under his command on 6th June 1944.

Following the invasion he set up his headquarters at the Chateau d'Hennemont, just outside Saint Germain en Laye. (The Chateau went on to become the school my kids attended). He was tragically killed on 2nd Jan 1945 when the aircraft which was taking him to a meeting with Monty in Brussels skidded on ice taking off and all aboard were killed. He is buried in the cemetery in Saint Germain en Laye. Few men can have made such a massive individual contribution to the Allied success in the war, yet nobody has heard of him.

A few years ago, we organized a ceremony in the cemetery to honour him. The Paris RNR, the French Navy, the Anciens Combatants, the Royal Navy, The Prefect and the Mayor were all present or represented. In September 2017 we finally succeeded in installing a plaque on the Chateau d'Hennemont in his memory. We managed to get nearly 20 of the Ramsay family to attend, including his son, General Ramsay. Our next objective is to get a Street named in his honour.

[Linked Image]
General Ramsay and HM Naval attaché Paris

On a personal note, when the film Dunkirk was released, the big thrill for me was a scene where Kenneth Branagh, at the end of the mole, reassured waiting troops as a ship pulled out "Don't worry, Vanquisher will be along in a minute". It was the only one of HM ships mentioned by name in the film. In 1940 my late Godfather, Capt CB Alers Hankey RN or "Hurricane Hank" was Captain of the destroyer Vanquisher. Vanquisher made 7 trips to Dunkirk in 5 days, much of it under fire, rescuing in excess of 3500 troops. Hank was awarded his first DSC and a mention in dispatches for his actions. He had to be taken off the ship suffering from exhaustion at the end of Operation Dynamo.

Just recently I have taken stewardship of my family's historical archive. One of the interesting pieces I have found was a letter to my Dad's Godfather, Brian Guinness, to my Grandfather, the Rev Harry Goulding (Naval Chaplain) relating his experiences at Dunkirk. Here is a transcript....

[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]


Giles. Mogless in Paris.
Re: 80th Anniversary of Dunkirk [Re: pandy] #640551
27/05/20 07:57 AM
27/05/20 07:57 AM
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 1,069
B
brownbaker Offline
Has a lot to Say!
brownbaker  Offline
Has a lot to Say!
B

Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 1,069
What a fantastic letter.There is no mention of being scared!
The communications must have been a nightmare.
Just the fact when they arrived at the beach had to go back and obtain a embarkation number !
Thanks for sharing

Re: 80th Anniversary of Dunkirk [Re: pandy] #640567
27/05/20 09:50 AM
27/05/20 09:50 AM
Joined: May 2018
Posts: 153
Angus, UK
B
Bervie1 Offline
L - Learner Plates On
Bervie1  Offline
L - Learner Plates On
B

Joined: May 2018
Posts: 153
Angus, UK
Also watched and enjoyed the program, I guess there were a lot of unsung heroes in these days. The posted letter is fascinating and true insight, very interesting, thanks for posting

Re: 80th Anniversary of Dunkirk [Re: pandy] #640584
27/05/20 11:22 AM
27/05/20 11:22 AM
Joined: Jun 2014
Posts: 11,324
Lancashire, England
Stewart S Offline
Wave & smile... It's a Morgan
Stewart S  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2014
Posts: 11,324
Lancashire, England
Great post
Thanks for sharing Giles


2008 XXVII Platform, Bugatti Blue Roadster 4 Seater
Re: 80th Anniversary of Dunkirk [Re: pandy] #640600
27/05/20 11:47 AM
27/05/20 11:47 AM
Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 18,300
Suffolk
John V6 Offline
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John V6  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 18,300
Suffolk
Thanks for the post. I too enjoyed the TV program but your private letter added depth.


JohnV6
2006 Indigo Blue Roadster S1
2014 Brooklands Edition Roadster "Brookland's Belle" #5 of 50
Re: 80th Anniversary of Dunkirk [Re: Stewart S] #640610
27/05/20 11:58 AM
27/05/20 11:58 AM
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 7,303
Eton, Berks
Aeroman Offline
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Aeroman  Offline
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Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 7,303
Eton, Berks
Like you Giles, we have watched the documentary and it was very very interesting. Also to read a personal account that brings to life the bravery and the chaos that reined amongst many of the troops. I had never heard of Ramsay so it seems as you say he is one of the unsung heroes of the evacuation. Thank you.


Brian

1970 Morgan Plus 8 - Moss Box (Black, soon to be the original Indigo Blue)
2014 Morgan SP1 (Rocket Red)
2015 Morgan Plus 8 (Rocket Blue)
Re: 80th Anniversary of Dunkirk [Re: pandy] #640634
27/05/20 01:48 PM
27/05/20 01:48 PM
Joined: Aug 2017
Posts: 247
Salisbury, England
D
DaveK Offline
L - Learner Plates On
DaveK  Offline
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D

Joined: Aug 2017
Posts: 247
Salisbury, England
Giles
Great story. As a member of Salisbury RNA - Royal Navy Association, I am in weekly contact with 2 friends who both served during WW2. My friend George served from 1936 to 1969, over 50 years getting a Pusser pension! He served on the Russian convoys, the first Malta convoy as well as the Atlantic chasing down U-Boats! He did not celebrate VE day as he was on a ship heading to the far East. Luckily our American friends dropped two buckets of sunshine which made the Japanese Empire call it a day, thank God. My other friend Portland Bill did a number of Russian convoys. He also served on D Day on a ship from day one. He met a young French lady around this period and ended up marrying her.

You can clearly see why these men and women have been called the greatest generation!


Navy Dave
1976 Morgan 4/4
Re: 80th Anniversary of Dunkirk [Re: pandy] #640642
27/05/20 02:23 PM
27/05/20 02:23 PM
Joined: Dec 2017
Posts: 888
Evergreen, Colorado, USA
britmog Offline
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britmog  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2017
Posts: 888
Evergreen, Colorado, USA
Giles thank you for posting the letter a clear insight to the reality of Dunkirk. You can see how Military Discipline and loyalty to your comrades is critical during the chaos of such operations, retreat and evacuation are the most difficult to organize control and execute successfully. Have you sent the documents to the Imperial War Museum for them to add to their invaluable collection, they copy and return the originals, I sent them my fathers diary from his Royal Navy service and it was used by historians for accurate details on the Atlantic convoys, fall of Singapore and relief of Malta.


Bruce
1964 4/4 Series V Comp (Megan)
1994 +8 (Maurice)
2013 M3W (Olga)
Re: 80th Anniversary of Dunkirk [Re: pandy] #640645
27/05/20 02:42 PM
27/05/20 02:42 PM
Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 6,866
Devon
Budster Offline
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Budster  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 6,866
Devon
Giles. Thanks for posting. I found it really interesting.
My late father was tasked with defending the perimeter, whilst the evacuation took place.
Having fought at the hilltop village of Cassel, he was eventually captured.
As a young officer in the RA, he was forced to take part in the ‘long march’ across Belgium and Holland before reaching the German border.
He then became a PoW, firstly at Laufen and then Eichstatt.
I now have a collection of related information, (missing in action telegram, PoW dog tags etc) including a rare printed summary of the long march.
I thought that Dan Snow’s documentary was excellent, with some fascinating film footage.
A remarkable period in the history of this country.


Bud
4/4 "Stanley"
Re: 80th Anniversary of Dunkirk [Re: pandy] #640676
27/05/20 05:41 PM
27/05/20 05:41 PM
Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 13,810
Mandello del Lario
Gambalunga Offline
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Gambalunga  Offline
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Posts: 13,810
Mandello del Lario
Thank you for a very interesting post Giles.

I probably have to thank Admiral Ramsay, and a completely unknown truck driver together with a few others, for my very existence.

My father, a keen motorcyclist, was a despatch rider up to and during the retreat. He had been without sleep for several days and never knew if he had simply crashed, perhaps even avoiding a straffing, or had collapsed from sheer exhaustion. The driver of the last truck of the last convoy along a section of road stopped and sent some men into the paddock where he and his motorcycle had gone off the road to see if he was still alive. All the others had passed thinking he was dead. They picked him up and got him on a boat. He regained conciousness to find himself mid Channel.

He did not return to France for the invasion but finished up in South East Asia with the Engineers on the Burma end of the Burma Road into China.


Peter

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