Bernard Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein

Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein (died 1979) was born the son of the Rt. Rev H.H.M.Montgomert, Bishop of Tasmania,in 1887 and spent his youth in Tasmania, Australia, before his family moved to England. Educated at St. Paul's school after which he gained a place at Sandhurst, (the British equivalent of West Point Military Academy) where despite not being a very popular student nevertheless gained his Commission through hard work. During World War I he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for bravery, was wounded, and soon made his mark as a gifted Staff Officer; finishing the War as a Lieutenant Colonel on the Staff of the 47th (London) Division on the Western Front.

Despite writing a book on Infantry tactics his promotion between the World Wars was somewhat slow, but by 1940 he commanded the British Third Division of the BEF at Dunkirk. His appointment as the commander of the battered Eighth Army in August 1942 proved a turning point in his career. Victory over the Axis Forces in North Africa commencing at the Battle of El Alamein (1942) which forced the Axis armies back upon Tunis made him a national hero. In 1944 he was given command of the combined Allied ground forces for the Normandy invasion, and thereafter the British-Canadian 21st Army Group for the liberation of Europe.

Following the German surrender he was in command of the occupation forces in Germany before being appointed to the position of Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS). From 1951 to 1958 he was Deputy Supreme Commander of NATO forces.

Montgomery gained a reputation as an eccentric although, in fact, he was a perfectionist when carrying out his Military Duties and was much respected by all those who served under him. His memoirs written after the War in which he criticized his former chief -General Eisenhower (by now President of the United States) would cause much controversy and has led to many Americans (unfairly) to accuse him of being over-cautious and arrogant. To the British however Montgomery still stands, with Wellington and Marlborough, as one of the most talented field commanders in the nation’s history.

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