Bernard Montgomery

The Viscount Montgomery of Alamein
Bernard Law Montgomery.jpg
Nickname(s) "Monty"
"The Spartan General"
Born (1887-11-17)17 November 1887
Kennington, Surrey, England
Died 24 March 1976(1976-03-24) (aged 88)
Alton, Hampshire, England
Buried Holy Cross Churchyard, Binsted, Hampshire
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1908–1958
Rank Field Marshal
Unit Royal Warwickshire Regiment
Commands held Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (1951–58)
Chief of the Imperial General Staff (1946–1948)
British Army of the Rhine (1945–1946)
21st Army Group (1944–45)
Allied Ground Forces (Normandy) (1944)
Eighth Army (1942–43)
South-Eastern Command (1941–1942)
XII Corps (1941)
V Corps (1940–1941)
II Corps (1940)
3rd Infantry Division (1939–1940)
8th Infantry Division (1938–1939)
9th Infantry Brigade (1937–38)
1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment (1931–1934)
17th (Service) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (1919)

First World War
Anglo-Irish War
Arab revolt in Palestine
Second World War

Awards Knight of the Order of the Garter
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order
Mentioned in Despatches (9)
Other work Colonel Commandant, Royal Tank Regiment
Colonel Commandant, Parachute Regiment (−1956 [1])
Representative Colonel Commandant, Royal Armoured Corps (1947 [2]–1957 [3])
Colonel Commandant, Army Physical Training Corps (1946 [4]–1960 [5])
Colonel Royal Warwickshire Regiment (1947 [6]–1963 [7])
Deputy Lieutenant of Southampton (1958–) [8]
Signature Bernard Montgomery Signature.svg

Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, KG, GCB, DSO, PC, DL ( n/; 17 November 1887 – 24 March 1976), nicknamed "Monty" and the "Spartan General", [10] was a senior British Army officer who fought in both the First World War and the Second World War.

He saw action in the First World War as a junior officer of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. At Méteren, near the Belgian border at Bailleul, he was shot through the right lung by a sniper, during the First Battle of Ypres. He returned to the Western Front as a general staff officer and took part in the Battle of Arras in April/May 1917. He also took part in the Battle of Passchendaele in late 1917 before finishing the war as chief of staff of the 47th (2nd London) Division.

In the inter-war years he commanded the 17th (Service) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers and, later, the 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment before becoming commander of 9th Infantry Brigade and then General Officer Commanding (GOC) 8th Infantry Division.

During the Second World War he commanded the British Eighth Army from August 1942 in the Western Desert until the final Allied victory in Tunisia in May 1943. This command included the Second Battle of El Alamein, a turning point in the Western Desert Campaign. He subsequently commanded the British Eighth Army during the Allied invasion of Sicily and the Allied invasion of Italy. He was in command of all Allied ground forces during Operation Overlord from the initial landings until after the Battle of Normandy. He then continued in command of the 21st Army Group for the rest of the campaign in North West Europe. As such he was the principal field commander for the failed airborne attempt to bridge the Rhine at Arnhem, and the Allied Rhine crossing. On 4 May 1945 he took the German surrender at Lüneburg Heath in Northern Germany.

After the war he became Commander-in-Chief of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) in Germany and then Chief of the Imperial General Staff (1946–1948). He then served as Deputy Supreme Commander of NATO in Europe until his retirement in 1958.

Early life

Montgomery was born in Kennington, Surrey, in 1887, the fourth child of nine, to an Ulster-Scots Church of Ireland minister, The Reverend Henry Montgomery, and his wife, Maud (née Farrar). [11] [12] The Montgomerys, an ' Ascendancy' gentry family, were the County Donegal branch of the Clan Montgomery. Henry Montgomery, at that time Vicar of St Mark's Church, Kennington, was the second son of Sir Robert Montgomery, a native of Inishowen in County Donegal in Ulster, [13] the noted colonial administrator in British India, who died a month after his grandson's birth. [14] He was probably a descendant of Colonel Alexander Montgomery (1686–1729). Bernard's mother, Maud, was the daughter of The V. Rev. Frederic William Canon Farrar, the famous preacher, and was eighteen years younger than her husband. [11] After the death of Sir Robert Montgomery, Henry inherited the Montgomery ancestral estate of New Park in Moville in Inishowen in Ulster. There was still £13,000 to pay on a mortgage, a large debt in the 1880s, and Henry was at the time still only an Anglican vicar. Despite selling off all the farms that were at Ballynally, "there was barely enough to keep up New Park and pay for the blasted summer holiday" (i.e., at New Park). [15]

It was a financial relief of some magnitude when, in 1889, Henry was made Bishop of Tasmania, then still a British colony and Bernard spent his formative years there. Bishop Montgomery considered it his duty to spend as much time as possible in the rural areas of Tasmania and was away for up to six months at a time. While he was away, his wife, still in her mid-twenties, gave her children "constant" beatings, [16] then ignored them most of the time as she performed the public duties of the bishop's wife. Of Bernard's siblings, Sibyl died prematurely in Tasmania, and Harold, Donald and Una all emigrated. [17] Maud Montgomery took little active interest in the education of her young children other than to have them taught by tutors brought from Britain. The loveless environment made Bernard something of a bully, as he himself recalled, "I was a dreadful little boy. I don't suppose anybody would put up with my sort of behaviour these days." [18] Later in life Montgomery refused to allow his son David to have anything to do with his grandmother, and refused to attend her funeral in 1949. [19]

The family returned to England once for a Lambeth Conference in 1897, and Bernard and his brother Harold were educated for a term at The King's School, Canterbury. [20] In 1901, Bishop Montgomery became secretary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, and the family returned to London. Montgomery attended St Paul's School and then the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, from which he was almost expelled for rowdiness and violence. [21] On graduation in September 1908 he was commissioned into the 1st Battalion the Royal Warwickshire Regiment as a second lieutenant, [22] and first saw overseas service later that year in India. [21] He was promoted to lieutenant in 1910, [23] and in 1912 became adjutant of the 1st Battalion of his regiment at Shorncliffe Army Camp. [21]

Bernard L. Montgomery, DSO (pictured on the right as a captain), with a fellow officer of 104th Brigade, 35th Division. Montgomery served with the brigade from January 1915 until early 1917.
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