To the men, Montgomery became the officer who defeated the dreaded Erwin Rommel. His popularity was gained not only through victories, but also his efforts to win the hearts of his men. He made sure that he was visible to the front line soldiers, speaking to them as much as possible. On one of the visits, he visited an armor unit, and spoke with the crew of a tank; one of the tankers gave him a black beret of the Royal Tank Regiment, which he wore for the remainder of the war, becoming part of his signature look. Some of his methods for troop support were unorthodox, however, such as setting up a brothel in Tripoli, Libya to satisfy the men's sexual needs. It received approval from the men who needed this type of service, but it also added distance between Montgomery and the other officers who found brothels immoral and unacceptable.
Lt General Montgomery, started out with 8th Army wearing a standard GOC's service cap. (As he had done in the UK and as commander of 3rd Inf. Div of the B.E.F.)
Shortly after arriving in the Western Desert, he "adopted" a Bush Hat with the regimental badges of units under his command, shortly there after. This image though, obviously did not suit/ last.
By October 1942 he was most commonly seen in a Black (RTR) beret, sporting General Officers and RTR badges. However, it was not uncommon for the regimental badge to be switched to match a specific Regiment/ Corps, during an inspection/ pep talk.
Have to agree with Joe Private, about effort to date too.
I was in when Monty retired in 1958 and there were still heaps of people who had served during WW11 that held him in affectionate regard, many of them having served in North Africa.
I believe that he holds a well deserved place in British history.
Seems strange that his multi badging habit is no longer general knowledge, in the fifties even your granny would have known the story behind it. Still, times change and young soldiers today know heaps that I will never know.
Am I the only person who thinks it is chod that CDS tries his hand at this when he visits Army units, wearing his RE officers' beret? He looks like he's picked up the wrong hat coming out of the mess. (I know he has some connection with them, but as CDS he has a connection with everything else, too).