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Bernard Law Montgomery 1887-1976

Discussion in 'General Chatter' started by Jim, Sep 3, 2006.

  1. Jim

    Jim Active Member

    Sep 1, 2006
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    via War44
    Bernard Law, Montgomery (1887-1976) was born in London, from an Ulster family, in 1887. He graduated from the Royal Military Academy of Sandhurst and served in France and Belgium during WW I. Promoted major general, he commanded a division in Middle East in 1938-1939. At the beginning of WWII he was in France commanding a division. He was given command of the 5th Corps in Britain after having evacuated his unit from Dunkirk in 1940.
    On Aug. 18, 1942, his moment came: he was called to assume command of the 8th Army, driven back into Egypt by Rommel's forces. At that time the myth of the Desert Fox was having a bad impact on the morale of the British troops: thus the need for a general with a strong personality. Montgomery fitted the bill. The myth of the "Unshakable" was created to increase the will to fight in the 8th Army. Montgomery was different from other generals: he dressed in a particular way, he was always depicted and photographed in a proper way, as a practical man who always got what he wanted. He was loved by the troops, who called him "Monty", but not as much by the high ranked officers and generals who considered him rude. After a long preparation, he launched the El Alamein attack in northern Egypt on October 23 and, when their lines broke, pursued the enemy remnants into Libya and beyond. He thus became the first of the Allied generals to inflict a decisive defeat on a German army, winning maybe the most important battle (along with Stalingrad) of WW2. On November 10 he was knighted and promoted to full general. Still leading the 8th Army, Montgomery participated in the Allied landing in Sicily in July 1943 and led the troops invading the Italian mainland two months later.
    He had a most active role during the remainder of the war: he led the 8th Army during the invasion of Italy. In January 1944 he returned to Britain to lead the land forces under the command of General Eisenhower in the Normandy landing. After the Allied landing in Normandy in June 1944, Montgomery directed all land operations until August, when the command was reorganized. He then took command of the Second Army Group, consisting of British and Canadian armies, which held the northern end of the Allied line. On September 1 he was made a field marshal, the highest rank in the British Army. Montgomery suffered his worst defeat of the war in September 1944 when his planned crossing of the Rhine at the Dutch city of Arnhem was turned back with the loss of 6,000 airborne troops. Responsibility for the debacle has been the source of continuing controversy.
    On Dec. 17, 1944, after a German thrust through the Ardennes had split the Allied Twelfth Army Group, Montgomery was given temporary command of all British and American forces on the north side of the bulging line. On May 4, 1945, he accepted the surrender of the German troops in the Netherlands and northwest Germany.


    On May 22, Montgomery became chief of British forces occupying Germany and a member of the Allied Control Commission.
    In 1946 Montgomery became 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein. In 1948-1951 he served as chairman of the permanent defense organization of the Western European Union, and he was deputy supreme commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces from 1951 until his retirement in 1958. He died in Alton, Hampshire, on March 24, 1976. His writings include Memoirs (1958).
    Who was the better general, Montgomery or Rommel's ? This question cannot be answered because of the disproportion of forces during the battle of El Alamein, the only real circumstance during which the two generals faced each other. Probably Montgomery had a more imposing personality (it must be said that dealing with Churchill was very different than dealing with Hitler) but speaking in terms of pure tactical ability, Rommel showed over and over a resourcefulness and skillfulness that Montgomery never exhibited.

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