Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery (1887-1976)

Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery (1887-1976)

Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery

Abrasive, difficult but successful British General during the Second World War. Montgomery had served on the Western Front during the First World War, and remained in the army between the wars. In 1939 he managed to get command of the 3rd Division. His command abilities were first appreciated (by others) during the retreat to Dunkirk, where his division covered the rest of the retreated army. Montgomery showed an ability to stay on top of the details under pressure that suggested he was suitable for high command.

In August 1942 he was appointed to command the Eighth Army, facing Rommel in the Western Desert. In a war so far dominated by movement, Montgomery reverted to First World War tactics, forcing Rommel to attack a strong defensive line. With this victory behind him, Montgomery was able to stand up to Churchill, refusing to go on the offensive until he had been reinforced. When he finally went on to the offensive at El-Alamein (23 October-5 November) his army massively outnumbered the Germans and was able to inflict a crushing defeat on Rommel, one of the first suffered by the Germans. This made Montgomery a national hero in Britain, and helped to mark the turning point of the Second World War (along with the siege of Stalingrad).

In December 1943, Montgomery was recalled to Britain, where he took control of the planning for Operation Overlord. He was in direct command on D-Day (6 June 1944), but his reputation now started to decline. German resistance away from the beaches was greater than expected, and when the breakthrough came it was in the American zone. His relationships with his American colleagues were increasingly hostile, especially after Eisenhower took over direct command of the army. Montgomery was promoted to Field Marshal in the aftermath of the breakout from the beaches.

The biggest blot on Montgomery’s record is Operation Market Garden, the attempt to capture the bridge over the Rhine at Arnhem. However, bad luck played a significant part in this defeat – a crack German division was recovering from the Eastern Front in the area, and victory at Arnhem could have dramatically shortened the war.

Montgomery was a very capable general, who played a key role in the allied victory, both in Africa and on D-Day. Moreover, he was careful with the lives of his men, and won his victories without suffering huge casualties. His ability to irritate his colleagues should not be allowed to distract from his reputation.


Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery

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Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery, in full Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, of Hindhead byname Monty, (born Nov. 17, 1887, London, Eng.—died March 24, 1976, near Alton, Hampshire), British field marshal and one of the outstanding Allied commanders in World War II.

Montgomery, the son of an Ulster clergyman, was educated at St. Paul’s School, London, and the Royal Military Academy (Sandhurst). Having served with distinction in World War I (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 Prime Minister Winston Churchill appointed him commander of the British Eighth Army in North Africa, which had recently been defeated and pushed back to Egypt by German General Erwin Rommel. There Montgomery 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, he shared major responsibility in the successful Allied invasion of Sicily (July 1943) and led his Eighth Army steadily up the east coast of Italy until called home to lead the Allied armies into France in 1944. He was first knighted (KCB) in 1942.

Again under Eisenhower, Montgomery reviewed the plan for Operation Overlord (as the Normandy Invasion was code-named) and recommended expanding the size of the invading force and landing area. Eisenhower approved the expansion plan (code-named Neptune), and Montgomery commanded all ground forces in the initial stages of the invasion, launched on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Beginning August 1, his Twenty-first Army Group consisted of Miles Dempsey’s British Second Army and Henry Crerar’s First Canadian 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 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.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen, Corrections Manager.


Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, 1887-1976

British army field marshal who was instrumental in the planning and execution of key engagements in North Africa and Europe. Whether considered a latter-day Marlborough or Wellington or “the most overrated general of World War II,” Bernard Law Montgomery remains the most controversial senior Allied commander of World War II. Montgomery was born in Kennington, London, on 17 November 1887. His father became the Anglican bishop of Tasmania, but the family returned to Britain when Montgomery was 13. He attended Saint Paul’s day school, Hammersmith, and entered the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, in 1907. The next year, Montgomery was commissioned into the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Montgomery served in India, and in World War I, he fought on the Western Front and was wounded in the First Battle of Ypres in 1914. He was then posted to a training assignment in England but returned to the front to fight as a major in the 1916 Battle of the Somme. Montgomery ended the war as a division staff officer. Following occupation duty in Germany after the war, he graduated from the Staff College at Camberely in 1921 and returned there as an instructor five years later. In 1929, Montgomery rewrote the infantry training manual. He then served in the Middle East, commanded a regiment, and was chief instructor at the Quetta Staff College from 1934 to 1937. Between 1937 and 1938, he commanded 1st Brigade. He then took charge of the 3rd Infantry Division, which he led in France as part of the British Expeditionary Force after the start of World War II. He distinguished himself in the British retreat to Dunkerque in May and June 1940, and in July, he took charge of V Corps in Britain, protecting the English south coast.

His rise to fame began in 1942 when he was chosen by CHURCHILL to replace AUCHINLECK in command of 8th Army in the Western Desert. He had the good luck to take over at a time when the 8th Army was receiving its first plentiful consignment of modern equipment and reinforcements and when Rommel’s forces had almost outreached their own supplies by the speed and depth of their advance.

Montgomery rebuilt Eighth Army’s morale. Known for his concern for his men’s welfare, he was also deliberate as a commander. In the Battle of El Alamein in October and November 1942, his superior forces defeated and drove west German and Italian forces under Rommel.

It was Montgomery’s remarkable ability to infuse his new command with confidence and belief in his powers of command, as much as these material benefits, which fitted it, however, to undertake the task of defeating the enemy for good at the Battle of El Alamein. Montgomery’s conduct of the battle, and particularly of the pursuit towards Tunis which ensued, has been criticized. But he was the undoubted victor and thus, to that date, the first British general to have defeated a major German Commander in open battle.

The British people accepted him as a hero overnight and he never subsequently lost that cachet. After the landing of the Anglo-American armies in French North Africa he became subject to EISENHOWER’s command and fought successfully to destroy what remained of the German-Italian army in Africa, particularly at the Battle of Mareth.

Following the Axis surrender in the Battle of Tunis of May 1943, Montgomery played an active role in planning Operation HUSKY, the invasion of Sicily, and he led Eighth Army in the invasions of both Sicily in July and Italy in September.

In the invasion of Sicily he commanded in competition with the Americans for the capture of the island, and subsequently led the 8th Army in the invasion of Italy as far as the line of the River Sangro. In January 1944 he was recalled with Eisenhower to plan the invasion of Europe, in which he was to command the ground forces under the latter’s supreme direction. He rightly insisted on the amplification of the original landing force from three to five divisions and, once they were ashore on 6 June, conducted a well-judged offensive against the Germans which culminated in the breakout of the Allies from the bridgehead in July.

In September he surrendered control of the ground forces to Eisenhower, but continued in charge of the British 21st Army Group until the end of the war. During the Ardennes campaign, he was once again summoned by Eisenhower to take charge of an Anglo-American force on the northern flank of the break in, which he handled with great skill if less tact. His organization of the Rhine Crossing was his last major command achievement before the end of the war, when he accepted the surrender of all German forces in northern Europe. After the war he was Chief of the Imperial General Staff and Deputy Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. He had been made Viscount Montgomery of Alamein for his great victory of 1942.

Following the war, Montgomery commanded British occupation troops in Germany between May 1945 and June 1946. From 1946 to 1948, he was chief of the Imperial General Staff. He next served as chairman of the Western European commanders in chief from 1948 to 1951 and commander of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in Europe and deputy supreme commander between 1951 and 1958. He retired in September 1958. A prolific writer, he personally drafted his memoirs that same year. Montgomery died at Isington Mill, Hampshire, England, on 24 March 1976.

References Baxter, Colin F. Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1887-1976. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999. Chalfont, Alun. Montgomery of Alamein. New York: Atheneum, 1976. Hamilton, Nigel. Monty. 3 vols. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1981-1986. Lewin, Ronald. Montgomery as a Military Commander. New York: Stein and Day, 1972. Montgomery, Bernard L. The Memoirs of Field-Marshal the Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, K G. London: Collins, 1958.


15 Images of Field Marshal Montgomery You May Not Have Seen Before

Field Marshal Montgomery is one of the defining figures of British wartime. In terms of image and influence, he ranks alongside Winston Churchill. Churchill had his Homburg hat and cigar. Montgomery, or “Monty” as he was known, had his black beret with twin badges.

He didn’t smoke though. Montgomery has often been compared to Wellington, such was the respect for him.

General Admiral Hans-Georg von Friedeburg (1895 – 1945) and Field Marshal Sir Bernard Law Montgomery (1887 – 1976) at the British camp on Luneburg Heath to sign the Instrument of Surrender of the German armed forces in Holland, north-west Germany and Denmark at the end of World War II, 4th May 1945. (Photo by George Rodger/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

Born Bernard Law Montgomery in 1887, he came from a large Irish family. He faced conflict from a young age.

During the Battle of Ypres in 1914 the young Monty was shot. The bullet went through his lung and nearly ended not only his military career but also his life. He was awarded the coveted Distinguished Service Order as a result.

When World War II broke out, Montgomery’s reputation became legendary. He led the elite 3rd Division out of Dunkirk in 1940.

(Original Caption) 9/20/43-Reggio, Italy: Their smiling leader, General Sir Bernard L. Montgomery, greets men of the British Eighth Army as they march, single file, through the narrow streets of Reggio in the early stages of the allied invasion of the Italian mainland. This an original of the radiophoto previously serviced.

But it was what happened 2 years later that really made his name. Heading the Eighth Army, he organized the victory at El Alamein in Egypt, fighting off Rommel’s troops. He also ensured victory during D-Day by insisting the number of Divisions were increased.

His responsibilities during the war saw him working closely alongside Dwight D. Eisenhower, future President of the United States.

General Eisenhower, Commander in chief of the Allied armies in North Africa , flew by plane to visit General Bernard Montgomery at his tactical headquarters to congratulate him on his recent successes with the 8th Army. April 1943 (Photo by Daily Mirror Archive / Crown/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

The men didn’t always see eye to eye, putting it mildly. Monty’s outspoken attitude and lack of interest in things like smoking and drinking made him unpopular with his superiors. But soldiers reportedly loved him.

He had his failings, but only lost 1 fight in his career – Arnhem in 1944. Tragedy befell him when wife Betty died of a blood infection 10 years into their marriage.

Monty himself passed away in 1976 in Hampshire at the age of 88. A statue of Field Marshal Montgomery has stood for 40 years outside the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall, London, reminding everyone of his immense contribution to the British war effort…

circa 1942: General Montgomery (1887 – 1976) meets a camouflaged Home Guard on a tactical training course in South Eastern Command. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Field Marshal the Viscount Montgomery of Alamein KG, GCB, DSO photographed with Lady Churchill GBE at a luncheon organised by Foyles Bookshop at the Dorchester Hotel. 31st October 1958. (Photo by Smith/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

VATICAN – 1958: Pope Pius XII with Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery just before their private audience, 1958 in Vatican. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

May 1945: Crowds turn out to welcome 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein (1887 – 1976), commander of the British Eighth Army in Africa, as his car passes through Stroget, a street in Copenhagen. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

PARIS, FRANCE – AUGUST: British General Bernard Montgomery Being welcomed in Paris, France, in August 1944. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

(Original Caption) “Monty” talks with front line sappers in Sicily… Sicily- Near the front line, General Bernard (Monty) Montgomery stops his car to chat with some of his men who were working on the road.

World War II. Invasion of Normandy (France). From left to right: Miles Dempsey (1896-1969), Bernard Montgomery (1887-1976) and Omar Nelson Bradley (1893-1981). In June 1944. (Photo by adoc-photos/Corbis via Getty Images)

Le général Montgomery visitant une ville conquise en Allemagne en 1945. (Photo by Keystone-FranceGamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

19th June 1967: Bernard Law Montgomery (1887 – 1976), commander in chief of the British army during World War II, wearing ceremonial garb at a Garter Ceremony in Windsor. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein (1887 – 1976) (right) hands his new manuscript ‘History of Warfare’ to book publisher George Rainbird (1905 – 1986), 27th April 1967. (Photo by Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Field marshal and senior British Army officer Bernard Montgomery (1887 – 1976) arrives at the last parade of the 1st Batallion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, UK, 23rd April 1968. (Photo by Ron Moran/Daily Express/Getty Images)

Field-Marshall Viscount Montgomery (L) and Sir Rupert de la Bere, Lord Mayor of London (R), leaving Westminster Abbey after the full dress rehearsal for the Coronation Ceremony, 29th May 1953. Nicholas Wright, page to Viscount Montgomery, is seen in the middle. (Fox Photos/Getty Images)


Between wars

In the years between World War I and World War II, Montgomery served in a number of locations around the world, rising steadily through the ranks of the army. After serving with the occupation forces in Germany, Montgomery attended the army's Staff College at Camberley, then spent some years in Ireland. In 1926 he became an instructor at the Staff College, and in 1929 he was assigned to head the committee to rewrite the army's manual on infantry training. Montgomery ruffled some feathers when he ignored the other committee members' opinions and wrote the manual himself.

When he was thirty-nine years old, Montgomery shed his bachelor status and married Betty Carver, the widow of an officer who had died in World War I. The marriage was happy and produced a son, David, born in 1928. After ten years, however, Betty died from an insect bite. Montgomery was devastated by her death, but reacted by throwing himself even more deeply into his work.


Bernard Law Montgomery

Bernard Montgomery was one of the most renowned Allied generals. He gained great popularity after his victories in North Africa (El Alamein). Thereafter Montgomery led the Allied ground operations in Normandy, The Netherlands and Northern Germany. His operational choices and strong personality made him a controversial figure.

Born as the son of an Anglican pastor, Bernard Law Montgomery (1887 – 1976) was already an officer in the British army during the First World War. His personal experience of the bad habits of the British command taught him how to lead operations effectively and avoid unnecessary losses. This made him popular among his men. However, his unorthodox ideas and trenchant criticism antagonized his conservative superiors.

In 1940, Montgomery directed the successful embarkation of the 2nd Corps during the evacuation of Dunkerque. ‘Monty’ forged his legend in North Africa as commander of the 8th Army, defeating German Field Marshal Rommel’s feared Afrikakorps in the Battle of El Alamein in October 1942. Subsequently he landed in Sicily and in Italy in the summer of 1943.
He was the commander of all Allied ground forces during Operation Overlord, from the initial landings until after the Battle of Normandy. He then continued to play an important role during the rest of the campaign in Northwestern Europe.

The failure of the British and Canadian armies to pierce the German front and close the Falaise pocket in time, his disputable presentation of these events, and strategic differences lead to tensions with other Allied generals. In September 1944 Montgomery directed Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands and led his troops into Northern Germany until the final defeat of the German Reich.

On 1 September 1944 he was promoted to Field Marshal, the highest rank in the British Army. He occupied a number of important positions after the war, particularly within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).


North Africa and Italy - Montgomery's early command

In 1942, a new field commander was required in the Middle East, where Auchinleck was fulfilling both the role of commander-in-chief Middle East Command and commander Eighth Army. He had stabilised the Allied position at the First Battle of El Alamein, but after a visit in August 1942, the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, replaced him as C-in-C with Alexander and William Gott as commander of the Eighth Army in the Western Desert. After Gott was killed flying back to Cairo Churchill was persuaded by Brooke, who by this time was Chief of the Imperial General Staff to appoint Montgomery, who had only just been nominated to replace Alexander as commander of the British ground forces for Operation Torch.

A story, probably apocryphal but popular at the time, is that the appointment caused Montgomery to remark that "After having an easy war, things have now got much more difficult." A colleague is supposed to have told him to cheer up - at which point Montgomery is supposed to have said "I'm not talking about me, I'm talking about Rommel"

Montgomery's assumption of command transformed the fighting spirit and abilities of the Eighth Army. Taking command on 13 August 1942, he immediately became a whirlwind of activity. He ordered the creation of the X Corps, which contained all armoured divisions to fight alongside his XXX Corps which was all infantry divisions. This was in no way similar to a German Panzer Corps. One of Rommel's Panzer Corps combined infantry, armour and artillery units under one division commander. The only common commander for Montgomery's all infantry and all armour corps was the Eighth Army Commander himself. Correlli Barnett commented that Montgomery's solution ". was in every way opposite to Auchinleck's and in every way wrong, for it carried the existing dangerous separatism still further." Montgomery reinforced the 30 miles (48 km) long front line at El Alamein, something that would take two months to accomplish. He asked Alexander to send him two new British divisions (51st Highland and 44th) that were then arriving in Egypt and were scheduled to be deployed in defence of the Nile Delta. He moved his field HQ to Burg al Arab, close to the Air Force command post in order better to coordinate combined operations. Montgomery was determined that the Army, Navy and Air Forces should fight their battles in a unified, focused manner according to a detailed plan. He ordered immediate reinforcement of the vital heights of Alam Halfa, just behind his own lines, expecting the German commander, Erwin Rommel, to attack with the heights as his objective, something that Rommel soon did. Montgomery ordered all contingency plans for retreat to be destroyed. "I have cancelled the plan for withdrawal", he told his officers at the first meeting he held with them in the desert. "If we are attacked, then there will be no retreat. If we cannot stay here alive, then we will stay here dead."

Montgomery made a great effort to appear before troops as often as possible, frequently visiting various units and making himself known to the men, often arranging for cigarettes to be distributed. Although he still wore a standard British officer's cap on arrival in the desert, he briefly wore an Australian broad-brimmed hat before switching to wearing the black beret (with the badge of the Royal Tank Regiment next to the British General Officer's badge) for which he became notable. The black beret had been offered to him by a soldier upon climbing into a tank to get a closer look at the front lines. Both Brooke and Alexander were astonished by the transformation in atmosphere when they visited on 19 August, less than a week after Montgomery had taken command.


1. Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1887-1976: A Selected Bibliography (Hardback)

Book Description Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. In the desperate summer of 1942, Hitler seemed to be on the verge of victory in Russia and the Middle East. With Rommel nearing Cairo, a little known lieutenant-general, Bernard Montgomery, took charge of what Churchill called a baffled and bewildered British 8th Army. Assuming command, Montgomery issued his famous order, Here we will stand and fight.If we can't stay here alive, then let us stay here dead, and led the Army to one of the Allies' greatest victories-El Alamein. Monty became an instantly recognizable Allied leader, but as a man with strong views, unbending principles, and outspoken frankness, he was both loved and disliked, praised and criticized. This bibliography presents and evaluates the extensive body of literature that has grown up around the controversial Field Marshal.Any serious study of World War II military campaigns must confront Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, an individualist with both admirers and detractors. This book provides an extensive historiographical overview of the literature in Part I and a bibliography of significant works in Part II. It is a basic reference and research guide for the student, scholar, and general reader. Seller Inventory # LHB9780313291197


Family tree of Bernard Law MONTGOMERY

Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, KG, GCB, DSO, PC, DL (/m?nt. m?ri. æl?me?n/ 17 November 1887 – 24 March 1976), nicknamed "Monty" and "The Spartan General",[10] was a senior British Army officer who fought in both the First World War and the Second World War.

He saw action in the First World War as a junior officer of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. At Méteren, near the Belgian border at Bailleul, he was shot through the right lung by a sniper, during the First Battle of Ypres. He returned to the Western Front as a general staff officer and took part in the Battle of Arras in April/May 1917. He also took part in the Battle of Passchendaele in late 1917 before finishing the war as chief of staff of the 47th (2nd London) Division.


In the inter-war years he commanded the 17th (Service) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers and, later, the 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment before becoming commander of 9th Infantry Brigade and then General Officer Commanding (GOC) 8th Infantry Division.

During the Second World War he commanded the British Eighth Army from August 1942 in the Western Desert until the final Allied victory in Tunisia in May 1943. This command included the Second Battle of El Alamein, a turning point in the Western Desert Campaign. He subsequently commanded the British Eighth Army during the Allied invasion of Sicily and the Allied invasion of Italy. He was in command of all Allied ground forces during Operation Overlord from the initial landings until after the Battle of Normandy. He then continued in command of the 21st Army Group for the rest of the campaign in North West Europe. The failed airborne attempt to bridge the Rhine at Arnhem in Holland was with 21st Army Group personnel, however was successful with a subsequent Allied Rhine crossing. When German armoured forces attacked American lines in the Battle of the Bulge forcing them to retreat, Montgomery was given command of the US First Army and the US Ninth Army, stopping the German advance and sending them into reverse. On 4 May 1945 he took the German surrender at Lüneburg Heath in Northern Germany.

After the war he became Commander-in-Chief of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) in Germany and then Chief of the Imperial General Staff (1946–1948). From 1948 to 1951 he served as Chairman of the Commanders-in-Chief Committee of the Western Union. He then served as NATO's Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe until his retirement in 1958.


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Contents

Market Garden [ edit | edit source ]

The increasing preponderance of American troops in the European theatre (from five out of ten divisions at D-Day to 72 out of 85 in 1945) made it a political impossibility for the Ground Forces Commander to be British. After the end of the Normandy campaign, General Eisenhower himself took over Ground Forces Command while continuing as Supreme Commander, with Montgomery continuing to command the 21st Army Group, now consisting mainly of British and Canadian units. Montgomery bitterly resented this change, although it had been agreed before the D-Day invasion. Winston Churchill had Montgomery promoted to field marshal by way of compensation.

Montgomery was able to persuade Eisenhower to adopt his strategy of a single thrust to the Ruhr with Operation Market Garden in September 1944. It was uncharacteristic of Montgomery's battles: the offensive was strategically bold, but poorly planned. Montgomery either didn't receive or ignored ULTRA intelligence which warned of the presence of German armoured units near the site of the attack. As a result, the operation failed with the destruction of the British 1st Airborne Division at the Battle of Arnhem and the loss of any hopes of invading Germany by the end of 1944.

Ardennes [ edit | edit source ]

Montgomery's preoccupation with the push to the Ruhr had also distracted him from the essential task of clearing the Scheldt during the capture of Antwerp and so, after Arnhem, Montgomery's group was instructed to concentrate on doing this so that the port of Antwerp could be opened.

When the surprise attack on the Ardennes took place on 16 December 1944, starting the Battle of the Bulge, the front of the U.S. 12th Army Group was split, with the bulk of the U.S. First Army being on the northern shoulder of the German 'bulge'. The Army Group commander, General Omar Bradley, was located south of the penetration at Luxembourg and command of the U.S. First Army became problematic. Montgomery was the nearest commander on the ground and on 20 December, Eisenhower (who was in Versailles) transferred Courtney Hodges' U.S. First Army and William Simpson's U.S. Ninth Army to his 21st Army Group, despite Bradley's vehement objections on national grounds. Montgomery grasped the situation quickly, visiting all divisional, corps, and army field commanders himself and instituting his 'Phantom' network of liaison officers. He grouped the British XXX Corps as a strategic reserve behind the Meuse and reorganised the US defence of the northern shoulder, shortening and strengthening the line and ordering the evacuation of St Vith.

Eisenhower had then wanted Montgomery to go on the offensive on 1 January to meet Patton's army that had started advancing from the south on 19 December and in doing so, trap the Germans. However, Montgomery refused to commit infantry he considered underprepared into a snowstorm and for a strategically unimportant piece of land. He did not launch the attack until 3 January, by which point the German forces had been able to escape. A large part of American military opinion thought that he should not have held back, though it was characteristic of him to use drawn-out preparations for his attack. After the battle the U.S. First Army was restored to the 12th Army Group the U.S. Ninth Army remained under 21st Army Group until it crossed the Rhine.

Montgomery's 21st Army Group advanced to the Rhine with operations Veritable and Grenade in February 1945. A meticulously-planned Rhine crossing occurred on 24 March. While successful it was weeks after the Americans had unexpectedly captured the Ludendorff Bridge and crossed the river. Montgomery's river crossing was followed by the encirclement of the German Army Group B in the Ruhr. Initially Montgomery's role was to guard the flank of the American advance. This was altered, however, to forestall any chance of a Red Army advance into Denmark, and the 21st Army Group occupied Hamburg and Rostock and sealed off the Danish peninsula.

On 4 May 1945, on Lüneburg Heath, Montgomery accepted the surrender of German forces in northern Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands. This was done plainly in a tent without any ceremony. In the same year he was awarded the Order of the Elephant, the highest order in Denmark.


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