Montgomery of Alamein, Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount

By Don M. Cregier
  • Grades: 6–8, 9–12

Bernard Law Montgomery, b. Nov. 17, 1887, d. Mar. 24, 1976, has been described as the finest British field commander since the duke of Wellington. A graduate of Sandhurst Royal Military Academy, he entered the army in 1908 and distinguished himself during World War I. In World War II he led (1939-40) a division in France, was involved in the Dunkirk (Dunkerque) evacuation, and took charge of the controversial Dieppe commando raid of 1942 before being sent to North Africa as Eighth Army commander. There his decisive victory over the Afrika Korps at El Alamein (1942) and his pursuit of the Germans across Libya and Tunisia captured the imagination of the British public, and he became a national hero, popularly known as "Monty."

He subsequently commanded the Eighth Army in the Sicilian and Italian campaigns, the 21st Army Group in the Normandy Invasion, and the sweep through France and western Germany (1944-45). Montgomery's performance in 1943 and 1944 was controversial. His strategy disputes with the Allied supreme commander Dwight D. Eisenhower were aired openly in the newspapers during the war and in their memoirs afterward. After the war, Montgomery, created viscount in 1946, was commander of British occupation forces in Germany (1945-46), chief of the British general staff (1946-48), and deputy supreme commander of NATO (1951-58). Following retirement from the army he was an outspoken member of the House of Lords and contributor to the press. His writings include his Memoirs (1958) and A History of Warfare (1968).

Bibliography: Gelb, Norman, Ike and Monty: Generals at War (1994); Hamilton, Nigel, Monty —Field Marshal (1986); Horne, Alistair, and Montgomery, David, Monty: Man and General (1994); Lewin, Ronald, Montgomery as Military Commander (1971); Thompson, R. W., The Montgomery Legend (1967).

  • Subjects:
    World War II

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