Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount
Montgomery of Alamein (November 17, 1887 - March 24,
1976) was a British military officer during World War II.
He was born in London, England in 1887.
In August 1942, Winston Churchill appointed Montgomery
commander of the British 8th Army in the North African
campaign. He successfully pushed back Erwin Rommel,
forcing him to retreat from Egypt after the Second Battle
of El Alamein.
Under the command of Eisenhower, he successfully led the
Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943. A feature of the
Sicily campaign was Montgomery's clash of personality
with the American officer leading 7th Army, General
George Patton. Both had enormous egos, and desired to be
the centre of attention so far as coverage of the
campaign was concerned.
After Sicily, Montgomery
continued to command 8th Army during the landings on the
mainland of Italy itself. Shortly thereafter, he was
recalled to the UK to take part in planning Operation
Overlord, the invasion of Normandy.
Prior to the Normandy invasion, Montgomery assumed
command of 21st Army Group, and commanded that formation
for the rest of the war in Europe. After D-Day, and until
Eisenhower came to France, and assumed command,
Montgomery commanded all Allied ground forces. His
performance during the Normandy landings was criticised
by some, who considered his plans unimaginative and too
He was most successful with well planned attacks with
overwhelming forces, such as at Alamein. He had less
fortune with dramatic strokes like Operation Market
Garden which led to the defeat of the 1st Airborne
Division outside Arnhem. When first shown the plans, one
general said, "It looks like you're going a bridge
On January 7, 1945 Montgomery held a press conference in
which he claimed credit for the victory in the Battle of
the Bulge. This caused some degree of controversy with
the Americans who felt that Montgomery held back his
forces too long.
He was created 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein in
His reputation was tarnished by evidence of racism with
the 1999 revelation of previously secret papers from
1947-1948 when he held the position Chief of the Imperial
Defence Staff. During that period he was strictly
enjoined to silence about his views, which were contrary
to British policy, and agents were assigned to vet his
public appearances for compliance.
He passed away in 1976 and was interred in the Holy Cross
Churchyard, Binstead, Hampshire.
The U.S. has broken the second rule of war. That
is, don't go fighting with your land army on the mainland
of Asia. Rule One is don't march on Moscow. I developed
these two rules myself.
(spoken of American policy in Vietnam) Quoted in
Chalfont's Montgomery of Alamein.
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