Montgomery, Bernard Law,
The son of an Ulster clergyman, Montgomery was educated at St. Paul's School, London,and the Royal Military Academy (Sandhurst). Having served with distinction i'n World WarI (in which he was twice
wounded), he was recognized as a first-rate trainer of troops, with a forcible insistence on physical fitness, youth and efficiency in leadership. Early in World War II he led a division in France, and after the
evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk he commanded the southeastern section of England in
anticipation of a German invasion.
In August 1942, Winston Churchill appointed him commander of the British 8th Army in North
Africa, which had recently been defeated and pushed back to Egypt by the German general
Erwin Rommel. There he restored the troops' shaken confidence and, combining drive with
caution, forced Rommel to retreat from Egypt after the Battle of el-Alamein (November 1942).
Montgomery then pursued the German armies across North Africa to their final surrender in
Tunisia in May 1943. Under the command of U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, with whom
he was to have numerous personal conflicts, he shared major responsibility in the successful
Allied invasion of Sicily (July 1943) and led his 8th Army steadily up the east coast of Italy until
called home to lead the Allied armies into France in 1944. He was first knighted (K.C.B.) in
Again under Eisenhower, Montgomery reviewed the plan for Operation Overlord (as the
Normandy Invasion was code-named "Neptune") and recommended expanding the size of the invading
force and landing area. Eisenhower approved the expansion plan and Montgomery commanded all ground
forces in the initial stages of the invasion, launched on June
6, 1944. Beginning August 1, his 21st Army Group consisted of Miles Dempsey's British 2nd
Army and H.D.G. Crerar's Canadian 1st Army. Promoted to the rank of field marshal,
Montgomery led the Group to victory across northern France, Belgium, The Netherlands, and
northern Germany, finally receiving the surrender of the German northern armies on May 4,
1945, on Lüneburg Heath.
Following World War II, Montgomery was made a knight of the garter and was created 1st
Viscount Montgomery of Alamein in 1946. He commanded the British Army of the Rhine and
served as chief of the imperial general staff from 1946 to 1948. He became chairman of the
permanent defense organization of the Western European Union (1948-51) and then deputy
commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers in
Europe (1951-58). Among a number of theoretical and historical treatises on warfare, he wrote
his Memoirs (1958) and The Path to Leadership (1961).
Montgomery was always a cautious, thorough strategist, often to the point of overpreparing his
moves and exasperating the patience of fellow Allied commanders. He insisted on the complete
readiness of both men and matériel before any attempted strike, a policy that yielded steady, if
slow, successes and ensured his popularity with his troops.
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