Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery was the most well-known British general of World War Two, famous for his victory at the Battle of El Alamein in November 1942. He was nicknamed ‘Monty’. Bernard Law Montgomery was born on 17 November 1887 in London, educated at St Paul’s School and the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, and commissioned into the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in 1908. He was severely wounded early in World War One and spent the rest of war as a staff officer.
Between the wars he served in India, Egypt and Palestine. In April 1939, he was given command of the Third Division, part of the British Expeditionary Force which took part in the fighting preceding the Fall of France in June 1940. Montgomery was rapidly promoted, in August 1942, he was appointed commander of the Eighth Army, the British and Commonwealth forces fighting in the Western Desert. He inspired a dispirited and defeated force to victory over the Germans and Italians at the Battle of El Alamein. Prime Minister Winston Churchill was convinced this battle marked the turning point of the war. Montgomery commanded the Eighth Army in the subsequent Allied campaigns in Sicily and then on the Italian mainland. He was then recalled to the UK to take part in the planning of Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy.
During the Normandy landings and for several months afterwards, Montgomery commanded all of the Allied troops in France. In September 1944, this command was taken over by US General Dwight Eisenhower, with Montgomery reverting to command of 21st Army Group. Montgomery bitterly resented this, although he was promoted to field marshal by way of compensation. His bitterness and reluctance to cooperate with others made him increasingly unpopular, particularly with the Americans. Montgomery led his army group in the battle for Germany and, on 4 May 1945, he received the surrender of the German northern armies at Lüneburg Heath. After the war, Montgomery was created a knight of the Garter and Viscount Montgomery of Alamein. He commanded the British Army of the Rhine and served as chief of the Imperial General Staff from 1946 to 1948. From 1948 to 1951, he was chairman of the permanent defence organisation of the Western European Union. In 1951, he became deputy commander of the Supreme Headquarters of NATO, serving for seven years. He died on 24 March 1976.