Ramsay, Alan


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(12 March 1895–19 September 1973) enlisted as a gunner in the AIF in 1915 and served in the 22nd and 4th Field Artillery Brigades. He was commissioned in January 1919. A school teacher in civil life, Ramsay maintained an interest in soldiering through the CMF between the wars, serving in artillery appointments and commanding the 10th Field Brigade between 1930 and 1936 and the 4th Division artillery in 1939. Seconded to the 2nd AIF at the outbreak of war, he initially took a step down in rank to command the 2/2nd Field Regiment, but was quickly promoted to colonel and appointed to command the medium artillery on the headquarters of I Australian Corps. He commanded the 9th Division artillery for Lieutenant-General Leslie Morshead from October 1940 to June 1943, although for a time he and his guns were separated from their parent formation. While Morshead and the division were garrisoning Tobruk, Ramsay and his artillery units were providing fire support for the 1st South African Division in the defences around Mersa Matruh in Egypt. During the First Battle of Alamein in July 1942, in which the 9th Division played a conspicuous part, Ramsay commanded not only his own field regiments, but a British medium regiment and the guns of the 1st South African Division as well. At the Second Battle of Alamein, in October, he again commanded an augmented artillery force, this time comprising 12 field and three medium regiments, with a total of 360 guns. Morshead thought sufficiently highly of him to recommend that he command the 9th Division in the event of Morshead's becoming a casualty. He was awarded the DSO for service in the Middle East in 1942, and was mentioned in despatches three times during the course of the war. After commanding the II Corps artillery in the latter half of 1943, he was given command of the 5th Division, in succession to Major-General E. J. Milford, in January 1944, and led it for the remainder of the war, through the fighting in the area around Madang and then in the campaign on New Britain from late 1944. Returning to civil life after the war, he was Director of Education in Victoria from 1948 to 1960, and was knighted in 1961.

From The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Military History.

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