Leitholm site for museum

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A memorial museum, dedicated to the commander of the evacuation of Dunkirk and the naval commander of D-Day, is being planned in the garden of Bughtrig at Leitholm.

Bughtrig is the family home of Admiral Bertram Ramsay, and already there is a statue of him, commissioned by his grandson William who lives there now. A bronze sculpture was originally commissioned by English Heritage and stands at Dover Castle and William commissioned a second one from sculptor Steve Melton for Bughtrig.

The gardens are open to the public from June to September every year and as well as hoping to get council support for a memorial museum in the garden next summer William and his wife Natasha are wanting to host a commemoration service there for the 75th anniversary of the evacuation of Dunkirk, inviting veterans of Dunkirk and D-Day and their families.

Speaking about his grandfather, William said: “He led the largest amphibious operation the world had ever seen, and probably will ever see, with 4,126 landing vessels which in 9 days landed half a million men and 77,000 vehicles.

“Earlier in the war he had commanded the evacuation from Dunkirk, assembling 845 boats to rescue a third of a million British and French soldiers, who formed the core of experienced soldiers who proved vital for winning the war.

“One evening, a week before D-Day, Ramsay and his driver pulled over to the side of a road on a promontory overlooking Portsmouth, where they could see the convoys passing and the ships loading in the distance. My grandfather looked on for what seemed a long while, then remarked “It is a tragic situation that this is a scene of a stage set for terrible human sacrifice, but if out of it comes peace and happiness, who would have it otherwise?”

“On the evening of June 5, he wrote in his diary “I am under no delusions as to the risks involved in this most difficult of operations, and the critical period around H-Hour when, if initial formations of landing craft are held up, success will be in the balance. We shall require all the help that God can give us.”

“By way of relief, my grandfather wrote on June 12, to my grandmother “No doubt it is natural to congratulate the head of the concern, but it only serves to remind me of the many people on whom success depended quite as much if not more than on myself. At the same time I realise that in the event of failure it would equally be all attributed to me.”

Any veterans or their families who would be interested in attending next year’s event are invited to contact William for more information via will@wills-art.com or ring 01890 840777.