Ramsay, David James
*He was the younger son of Sir James Douglas Ramsay MVO, TD, DL, JP, 11th Baronet of Bamff, Alyth, Perthshire. His mother was Lady Ramsay (née Hope Anita Jane MacGregor, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Donald MacGregor, 92nd Highlanders). The family descended from Neiss Ramsay, principal physician to Alexander II, King of Scotland, who granted him the lands of Bamff which are still in possession of the family. Sir Gilbert Ramsay, Baron of Bamff, one of the descendant of Neiss, was created a baronet of Nova Scotia for the gallantry of his son James at the Battle of Pentland Hills in 1666. One of David Ramsay’s relatives, the only son of the 10th Baronet, had been Lieutenant Sir Nigel Neis Ramsay (E1889-1894), 2nd Battalion, Black Watch, who had been killed in action at Magersfontein in the Boer War on December 11th 1899. David Ramsay’s older brother, Neis Alexander Ramsay, also came to the school (A1924-1927).
Ramsay was educated first at St. George’s Choir School, Windsor, then at Twyford. He came in 1929, to Mr. Robinson’s House, of which he ultimately became a prefect. He was a good pianist and a painter in watercolours, devoting himself specially to scenes of bird-life.
In 1934 he passed to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he gained a Second Class in the Engineering Tripos, subsequently joining the Staff of ICI Metals at Birmingham. In December 1939 Ramsay married Miss Anne Sisson (daughter of George Sisson of Newcastle-on-Tyne); they lived in Seaford, Sussex.
He joined his father’s old Territorial cavalry unit, the Scottish Horse, in September 1939 and after four years of training, on June 2nd 1944, sailed from Harwich on HMS Cheshire. They remained anchored at sea until the evening of June 6th, when they transferred to landing craft. By the time the unit reached Juno Beach, German machine-guns had been silenced but artillery shells were still falling.
On June 9th-10th Ramsay performed well at Les Buissons, near the important enemy aerodrome at Carpiquet. His approach is described in The Royal Artillery Commemoration Book 1939-1945:
“He had only been there for a few hours when his outstanding bravery became apparent to all who were with him. He was a keen stalker and loved crawling out in front of the lines to observe. The fact that the ‘beast’ could shoot back added zest to this new sport; but the tragic side of war soon faced him. On June 10th he learnt that the battery observation post had been over-run by tanks; his battery commander and great friend, Robin Lyle, had been killed. He set out at once, extricated the remainder of the party, and established a new OP. This done, he went back under direct fire from enemy tanks and brought in the body of Major Lyle. For his conduct on this day he was awarded the Military Cross.”
On June 17th, while making a reconnaissance at Carpiquet, Ramsay was killed instantaneously by a land-mine, at the age of twenty-eight:
“He was ordered to bring the fire of his 5.5s down on to the aerodrome at Carpiquet. Determined that it should be observed fire, he set out on one of his stalking expeditions in search of a point from which the airfield could be seen. He was reported missing. Ten days later his body was found, nearly a mile in advance of the line that our forward posts had held on the day of his death. Those who knew him do not doubt that he was inspired by the same almost reckless devotion as his famous kinsman…”(Royal Artillery Commemoration Book 1939-1945).
He is buried in grave XIV.G.1 of the Bayeux War Cemetery, where his tombstone is inscribed with the following quotation from William Ernest Henley’s Margaritæ Sorori (“To His Sister Margaret”): “… and in my heart some late lark singing let me be gathered o the quiet west”.
- Surname: Ramsay
- Forenames or initials: David James
- House: H
- Years in School: 1929-1934
- Rank: Captain
- Regiment: (Scottish Horse) Royal Artillery
- Date of Birth: 10th April 1916
- Date of Death: 17th June 1944
- How Died: Killed in Action
- Location in War Cloister: Inner G1
- Decoration: MC
- Burial Site: Bayeux War Cemetery: Grave XIV.G.1