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Montgomery

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Bernard Montgomery, the son of a bishop, was born in London on 17th November 1887. He was educated at St Paul's School and Sandhurst Military Academy and after graduating in 1908 joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment where he served in India before being sent to France at the beginning of the First World War. He was seriously wounded when he was shot in the chest in October 1914 and was hospitalized in England. He returned to the Western Front in 1916 and by 1918 was chief of staff of the 47th London Division.

Montgomery remained in the British Army and in 1926 became an instructor at Camberley. Promoted to the rank of major general he was sent to command British forces Palestine in October, 1938.

On the outbreak of the Second World War Montgomery was sent to France with the British Expeditionary Force. He led the 2nd Corps but was forced to retreat to Dunkirk during Germany's Western Offensive and arrived back in England on 1st June, 1940. Montgomery was placed in command of the 5th Corps (July 1940-April 1941), the 12th Corps (April 1941-December 1941) and the South-Eastern Army (December 1941-August 1942) before he was chosen to command the 8th Army.

He led the 8th Army to victory in El Alamein, Tobruk, Tripoli, and Tunisia before leading them for the invasion of Sicily and up the mainland Italy.

In December 1943, Montgomery was appointed head of the 2nd Army and commander of all British ground forces in the proposed D-Day invasion of Europe (Operation Overlord) and afterwards proposed and planned the less successful Operation Market Garden.

In 1946 Montgomery was granted the title Viscount Montgomery of Alamein. He also served under General Dwight Eisenhower as deputy supreme commander of the Allied forces in Europe.

Bernard Montgomery died on 25th March 1976.

Montgomery's legacy has been somewhat tarnished in the last 10 years as documents have come to light questioning his performance within the Dieppe and Market Garden operations (although his involvement with the Dieppe raid was peripheral at best and ultimately he opposed it).

It has become fashionable to knock Montgomery because he was undeniably a boastful egotist. Nevertheless, he remains the outstanding British field commander of WW2. The reasons for this are fairly straightforward. Montgomery recognised the inadequacies of the rapidly expanded British Army and realised that only through careful training and preparation could it hope to defeat their German opponents, and this is what he did in every command he held throughout the war. He is criticised for lacking the dash and élan of, for example, Patton or Guderian but, in reality, he recognised that the majority of his subordinate commanders and staffs lacked the ability to implement a manoeuvrist approach and, whenever they attempted it, they failed. Instead, by thorough, methodical planning which emphasised the Allies superiority in air, artillery and materiel assets, he converted a plodding army of amateurs into campaign winners.