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Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery

Info: 4664 words (19 pages) Essay
Published: 2nd May 2017 in History

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Subsequent to the last breath of World War II- the new sun rose marking of a new era to the world and the new world order was started. It ended by leaving war heroes and out of whom Field Marshal B Montgomery of Great Britain is among.

2. Field Marshal Montgomery led Armies into battles achieving successful victories mainly in the World War II. He was courageous, robust, visionary, professional, risk taker, a morale booster, exemplary, a good judgement, initiative and eloquent. During his carrier in the Army, he held different high level command responsibilities in the British Army until his retirement in 1958. He served as a Commander of British Army, a Commander of Allied Forces, a Commander of British and Canadian Forces. He further served as Chief of Staff of the British Imperial Staff.

3. Employing a combination of these qualities Field Marshal Montgomery won several battles in the face of hostile adversaries at the battles of Bailleul, El Almein, and Sicily in Italy. He was a principal planner in the preparation of Operation Overhead invasion of Normandy and Market Garden on Rhine crossing.

4. Owing to his military leadership qualities and level of commitment to his profession, Field Marshal Montgomery earned himself different military awards, national recognition as an outstanding military leader who is annually remembered after his death in 1976.


5. To analyse leadership qualities exhibited by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery and draw own lessons.



6. Bernard Law Montgomery was born in 17 November 1887 in Kennington, London. He was the fourth child of nine members of his family born to Anglican priest, Reverend Henry Montgomery and Maud Farrar.

7. In 1889 Henry Montgomery was appointed as bishop to then British colony Tasmania. The family stayed there until it returned to London in 1901. Bernard Montgomery attended St Paul’s School and later enlisted in the army as a cadet at Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst in 1907.


8. Subsequently, completion of military training he was posted to 1 Battalion of The Royal Warwickshire Regiment in September 1908. Shortly, he was deployed to British India. In 1910 he was promoted to rank of lieutenant and then became adjutant of the same regiment at Shorncliffe in 1912.


9. At the beginning of The First World War in August 1914, Field Marshal Montgomery deployed to France with his regiment and employed at the Battle of Le Cateau. He fought bravery to defeat the enemy and sustained serious injuries in the lungs and knee by a sniper. In recognition of his gallant leadership he was awarded Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in 1914.

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10. Up on recovery in 1915 he was appointed as Brigade Major of 112 Brigade in Lancashire. Brigade Commander, Brigadier General Mackenzie appreciated Montgomery’s good administration and training skills. He returned to the Western Front in early 1916 as a General Staff Officer in 33 Division and took part in the Battle of Somme. There after he took part in the battle of Arras in April 1917. In the same year, he became the General Staff Officer in 9 Corps, which was part of General Sir Herbert Plumer’s Second Army. Further, Field Marshal Montgomery served as General Staff Officer – 1 at the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917 and later became the Chief of Staff of the 47 Division.


11. At the end of the First World War Field Marshal Montgomery commanded 17 Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, then he attended the Army Staff College course, Camberley in 1920. In January 1921 he became the Brigade Major in the 17 Infantry Brigade. The Brigade was stationed in County Cork during the final stages of the Irish War of Independence.

12. In May 1923, Field Marshal Montgomery was posted to the Territorial 49 Division, and later he returned to the 1 Royal Warwickshire Regiment in 1925 as a company commander. Having been promoted to the rank of Major in 1925, he was appointed as Deputy Assistant Adjutant General at the Staff College, Camberley. In 1927 Montgomery wedded to Elizabeth Carver.

13. In January 1929, he returned to 1 Royal Warwickshire Regiment as Commander of Headquarters Company. In 1931 Field Marshal Montgomery became Lieutenant Colonel as the Commanding Officer of 1 Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in Palestine and then in India. He was promoted to Colonel in 1934 and became an instructor at the Indian Army Staff College in British India, which is now known as Pakistan Army Command and Staff College in Quetta. He returned to Britain in June 1937 and became the Commander of the 9 Infantry Brigade.

14. In October 1938 Field Marshal Montgomery was promoted to rank of Major General and appointed as Commander of the 8 Infantry Division in Palestine. Later he was transferred to 3 Iron Infantry Division in July 1939.


15. Britain declared war against Germany on 3 September 1939 where Field Marshal Montgomery defeated German troops at battle of Dunkirk with 3 Division. Later Field Marshal Montgomery assumed duties as the Commander of the 2 Corps during Operation Dynamo.

16. In July 1940, he was placed in command of 5 Corps and then became Commander of 12 Corps which was responsible for the defence of Kent. In December 1941 Field Marshal Montgomery was given command of South Eastern Command overseeing the defence of Kent, Sussex and Surrey.

17. In August 1942, Sir Winston Churchill posted Field Marshal Montgomery in command of the 8 Army, which defeated the German forces at battle of El Alamein in November 1942. It was the first Allied victory against Nazi Germany, a victory that gave raise to Field Marshal Montgomery’s reputation. Then Field Marshal Montgomery was knighted and promoted to the rank of General.

18. Field Marshal Montgomery returned to Britain in January 1944. He assumed command of the 21 Army Group ,consisted of all Allied Ground Forces which took part in Operation Overlord, otherwise known as invasion of Normandy. At the end of the D-Day invasion, Sir Winston Churchill had promoted him to the rank of Field Marshal.

19. On 4 May 1945, Field Marshal Montgomery accepted the surrender of German Forces in northern Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands. After the war Field Marshal Montgomery became the Commander in Chief (C-in-C) of the British Army in Rhine.



According to Field Marshal Montgomery, “Leadership is the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence”.

20. Foresight. Foresight refers to the ability to predict or action of predicting what may happen or needed in the future. Field Marshal Montgomery is well recognized due to his ability in foresight and planning. Subsequent to recovery from the injury sustained at Meteran, he was appointed as a Brigade Major and served in various staff postings. During this time he became known, for his meticulous planning with foresight to integrate and coordinate the operations with combat and combat support forces.

21. He was intellectually mature officer who anticipated that world war would re-emerge in the near future. In preparation he initiated an amphibious landing operation concept and started series of training exercises. In 1938 he organized a massive amphibious training exercise from which he was praised by his superiors and as a result he was promoted to Major General. During the Allied advance to the Rhine River, Montgomery’s careful planning through foresight was directed towards minimizing the rate of casualty among his units.

22. Morale. Morale is a state of mind. It is that intangible force which will move a whole group of men to give their last ounce to achieve something, without counting the cost to themselves; that makes them feel they are part of something greater than themselves. Field Marshal Montgomery was concerned with the maintenance of morale and avoidance of heavy casualties of soldiers. These two considerations constitute key motivational factors behind the development of Montgomery’s “Colossal Cracks” approach. He believed passionately that morale was a big thing in war and one of the chief factor for success.

23. The prime minister Churchill alleged field marshal Montgomery to lag behind and fighting halfhearted battle in the North Africa but this criticism never discouraged the morale rather he went ahead to launch operation Supper Charge on El Almein that born good battle results.

24. Ability to Communicate. The ability to communicate effectively is an important aspect of leadership. Albeit the brilliancy of a commander’s powers of analysis and decision making, they can be rendered to useless if he cannot clearly express his intention in order others can act. Field Marshal Montgomery is also known as an eloquent speaker who won the attention of his men. In speeches to his staff and at the formations he lost no time in visiting, he made eight points, emphasized or modified to suite the audience. His speaks and new policy was much effective, although not always popular. This however led to successful defensive battle in Al Halfa, which restored the army’s confidence and morale.

25. Vision and Intellect. A fundamental objective of war fighting is to bring armed force to bear effectively in order to defeat the enemy. To accomplish this, leaders need to set the conditions they wish to establish at the end of the campaign, major operation or battles, they must work out in advance the desired end state. Conversely Field Marshal Montgomery, anticipating that Field Marshal Erwin Rommel would attempt to break through from his left flank, he has strengthened this area and was able to defeat the noted German commander at the Battle of Al Halfa. Field Marshal Montgomery was able to repulse the Germans at his Second Battle at El Almein in late October. Field Marshal Montgomery destroyed the Germans under Rommel whom the British had believed to be supernatural commander

26. Integration. The effective employment of military will bear a significant blow to the enemy by way of destroying his cohesion. It is important that the available elements of military capabilities are integrated to achieve this desired end state. Field Marshal Montgomery is a leader who maintained integration with other forces through which he was able to concentrate massive fire power. His integration of operations and command between the Army and Royal Air Force led him to become success leader. In Oct 1942, Montgomery decided that his army was ready to launch Operation Lightfoot. On 23 Oct, British Army launched an attacked at the Battle of El Alamein, and after 12 days Montgomery achieved his decisive victory. He was able to capture 30,000 war captives including the second in command General Volks Thomas and other eight Generals. He continued to use his superior firepower to bring pressure against the adversary forces.

27. Courage. Courage can be defined as the ability to do something that frightens one; bravery. It embraces both physical and moral courage. It is quality required by all leaders, regardless of rank or responsibility. At the outbreak of the First World War Montgomery was deployed to France with the British Expeditionary Force. As young an officer as he was at the time, Lieutenant Montgomery fought fiercely and courageously and drove the enemies out of the trench with employment of bayonet in the battle of Le Cateau near Meteren. In recognition of his bravery he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.

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28. Professional Knowledge. A leader must be a master of his profession. His subordinates will have no confidence in him unless he demonstrates his capabilities. He must be professionally proficient at whatever level he is commanding and have insight in a wider nature of his profession. Field Marshal Montgomery manifested skill and professional competence when he assumed command of 8 British Army in North Africa in October 1942. The 8 Army was in a state of terror after retreating hundreds of miles across Libya and Tunisia in the face of Rommel’s Africa Corps. The force lacked morale and decisive leadership. Field Marshal Montgomery focused on training and military doctrine in commanding the forces in the North Africa which led to ultimate success.

29. Judgment and Initiative. Judgment, at the lowest levels, is a matter of common-sense, tempered by military experience. As responsibility increases, greater judgment is required. To succeed a leader must be able to read each major development in a tactical or operational situation and interpret it correctly in the light of intelligence available, to deduce its significance and to arrive at a timely decision.

a. Judgment. Field Marshal Montgomery possessed the faculty of judging character, for choosing the right men for right place and the selecting the formation best suited to a particular task. He began this by appointing a team of senior officers in whom he trusted. Choosing correct leaders improved fighting effectiveness and contributed to raising the levels of morale of the 8 Army.

b. Initiative. It is about recognizing and grasping opportunities together with the ability to solve problem in an original manner. Field Marshal Montgomery described as a tactful leader he demonstrated his capability of this faculty in the North African campaign. Britain regarded North Africa as a key Battle front in the WW II. The Allied Force decisively fought to drive German and Italian Forces out and take control of the area. The decisive battle at El Alamein in October 1942 was a turning point to the Germans in North Africa. Field Marshal achieved the victory through concentrating a superior force of troops and equipment to overwhelmingly attack and shatter Germans out of Egypt. He also deceived his adversaries by creating a large numbers of dummy camps, tanks and other features in the south to deviate Germans attention. The battle resilience level of Germans Forces dropped and as a result they could not persevere for the thirteenth day of the battle. On 23 Oct 42 after 12 days of engagement Germans lost leading to a major victory for the British 8 Army. In subsequent engagements Germans lost until they eventually abandoned North Africa.

30. Robustness. It is referred as physical and mental fitness which is a pre-requisite of effective leader. In order to keep fresh and to maintain the required level of physical and mental fitness leaders have a duty not only to themselves but also their commands to obtain sufficient rest and leave. Field Marshal Montgomery highly believed in robustness advised: “Keep fit and fresh, physically and mentally; you will never win battles if you become mentally tired, or get run down in health”.

31. Self Confidence. Self confidence is linked to resolve and to professional knowledge reflecting in a justifiable confidence in one’s own ability. A leader must maintain and project confidence in himself and his plan. Field Marshal Montgomery hardly believed other commanders plans. Upon assuming command in North Africa he nullified battle plans he of his predecessor. He cancelled all retreat contingent plans and stated that we shall here alive or dead. By cancelling this option soldiers were left to fight for survival which eventually led major victories.


32. The comparison is to asses leadership qualities demonstrated by Field Marshal Montgomery as opposed to his peers especially during the WWII. Comparison was made with Field Marshal William Slim, Field Marshal Rommel and General Patton. The three military leaders are considered as impeccable leaders in military history. The comparison is based on their leadership qualities and significance in the battles of the WW II.

33. Germans under the leadership of Rommel on several accounts overrun the Allied Forces in North Africa. This happened before Field Marshal Montgomery had been posted there. The Allied Forces had been on move and retreating from the German attacks. Nevertheless, when Field Marshal Montgomery assumed the command of 8 Army of Allied Forces it triggered a turning point. At the defences of Almein Field Marshal Montgomery reinforced the defence, motivated the soldiers by frequent visiting and addressing them at the front line than his opponent, Field Marshal Rommel. He further totally discouraged the retreat plans by building and redressing the state of mind of soldiers with the ability to defeat the Germans. These actions raised the morale of soldiers and restored confidence that resulted in ultimate major victory at the Battle of Almein. Montgomery achieved this object with employment of integration of forces at his disposal. Whereas his counterpart never gave any importance to the Italian allies. The victory of Montgomery created lack of cohesion in the Germans at the expense of Field Marshal Rommel to restore it. Conversely the Allied forces were resurrected and gained morale.

34. In comparison both military leaders had good initiative quality especially on deceptive role. Field Marshal Rommel applied deceptive measures to ensure that the opposing forces kept guessing his strength yet he knew that he was inferior. Nevertheless, the British dummy of tanks, camps and other features in the south mislead the Germans that the Allied Forces were preparing to launch an attack from the south. The dummy instilled threat to the Germans and consequently they could not resist the fire after the twelfth day at Battle of El Almein.

35. Field Marshal Montgomery believed in maintained superior command intention and national strategy in the northern Africa. He fought alongside with other Allied Forces in a synergized manner to bring the forces to bear. In contrast with his counterpart Field Marshal Rommel did not maintain his superior intention of supporting the Italians not to be driven out of Tripoli. He himself changed it at focused on Suez Canal. In the process he never got logistical support for the span of command that he had expanded. It resulted in employing soldiers whose morale was obviously affected by lack of Combat Service Support.

36. In a nutshell Rommel ended up losing the Desert Campaign as a result of lack of unity of effort, poor planning of battles, failure to trust his subordinate and violation of his mission that ended up being not logistically supported. Conversely, the opposing forces of Allied Forces were fighting within the limits of the national strategic objectives, and maintained cohesion that led to eventual victory in the North Africa.

37. In order to get prepared for war a commander should forecast ant anticipate future combat conditions. This embraces the quantity and quality of forces required in the next war and materials for future engagements. Field Marshal Montgomery in his battle he was characterised with making thorough preparation minimised risks significantly. In contrast General George Patton lost the tactical advantaged of the battle due to his fail to predicting the future requirements of the field. General Patton had to slow down the operation the trouble-plagued invasion of Holland under the command of Montgomery in September 1944, not due to resistance from the Germans, but because they had outrun their own supply lines, or in the case of Operation Market-Garden since supplies had been reduced and diverted.

38. Field Marshal Montgomery and Field Marshal William Slim exhibited different leadership techniques. They believed that doctrine training and maintenance of morale would impact on efficiency of fighting forces. They were both strong-willed leaders. Field Marshal Slim is a one perfect example for the transformational leader in the military history. The concept to transformational leadership would be charismatic symbol which unique to particular individual, in that commutation ability through the influential speaking to the soldiers would carry great bearing. Therefore, these two great leaders were prominent and influential to their men where Field Marshal Montgomery too would be recognized as transformational leader.


39. Courageous and Persevering Character. On 13 Oct 1914 at the First Battle of World War One Field Marshal Montgomery sustained a serious injury in the Netherlands. Upon recovery he returned to the front and acted in the capacity of operations staff officer during the battles of the Somme, Arras, and Passchendaele. In 1937, Montgomery’s wife Elizabeth passed away. He dealt with his sorrow by occupying himself with work. These were difficult times to the Field Marshal Montgomery but was never bogged down. He cushioned, persevered and continued to lead the forces.

40. Innovation. Field Marshal Montgomery assumed command of 8 Army on 13 Aug 1942, and immediately initiated a number of changes, which included joint operations of mobile British armoured corps with the Royal Air Force which led to subsequent battle victories undermining the Germans Forces in the Northern African Campaign.

41. Ability to Motivate the Soldiers. When he took up command of 8 Army Field Marshal Montgomery told his officers at his first staff meeting “I have cancelled the plan for withdrawal”. He abolished contingent plans for retreat. He did so by instilling and restoring self confidence in the soldiers who had lost battles several accounts to Germans under the leadership of Field Marshal Rommel whom they had described as supernatural person. This was intended to reassure the soldiers that him and they were capable of fighting and defeating the enemy.

42. Delegation. Field Marshal Montgomery stressed that although leaders need a firm grip, but it should not jeopardize the initiative and freedom of action of subordinates. He insisted that indeed it is the initiative of subordinates and their freedom of action that the battle is won. He exercises mission command.

43. Knowledge of Forces. A leader must understand troops assigned under his command. This is very essential in affecting soldiers will to defeat the battle. Field Marshal Montgomery exercised this in visiting the soldiers frequently. He believed that if the approach to the human factor is given due diligence the leader gains confidence and trust from men. Soldiers should have a feeling that their best interests are embraced in the hands of the leader. When achieved the leader has in his possession a priceless asset and victory is ultimately possible.

44. Strategic Planning. Operations must develop within a deliberate pattern of action. The commander needs to be thinking at least two campaigns ahead, not just of the upcoming battle. When the Germans retreated from the Battle of Alam Halfa from 31 August 1942, Field Marshal Montgomery was criticized for not pursuing the fleeting forces immediately, but he was cautious about the unplanned attack. He believed that a hasty counter-attack would ruin his incumbent strategy for an offensive operation. He strongly believed that launching an attack would be for the one he was sure that victory was eminent and would bear a significant impact on the opposing force.

45. The Effects of Courage to Face Difficulties on any Situation. Field Marshal Montgomery was named the Allied Ground Forces Commander for the attack of Normandy. His generalship came under criticism in the first two months of the European campaign. Nevertheless Field Marshal Montgomery destroyed two German Field Armies at Argentan Falaise pocket at the decisive engagement of the Battle of Normandy.

46. Gaining Confidence through the Performance. Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery was passionate to his troops and in turn they were loyal to him. He was known by his troops, as one of British greatest generals, who restored will to fight and cohesion among forces in the victory at El Alamein. He built confidence based on the experience and profession, courage and morale from north Africa and went on to lead Allied Forces in the invasion of Italy and later France.


47. The great eminence objective of a leader that he would seek to achieve is certainly the integrity. In the absence of integrity there will be no real success in any kind of war no matter what rank you are. It was one a great belief which Field Marshal Montgomery emphasised and inculcated on his subordinates at all levels. Great leadership should be seen fostering the subordinates to develop demonstrates personal example from which subordinate draws lessons, encourage cooperation and mutual understanding so as to achieve a common goal as a team and is capable to stand all situations.

48. Field Marshal Montgomery’s stood out professionally, courageously and committed to sacrifice even his own life. In the military history it said that Field Marshal Montgomery exercised self confidence and the trust of his superiors and subordinates while commanding 21 Army Group. Further, he proved his subordinate commanders and troops under him the importance of those two factors by delegating authorities and practiced mission command.

49. Field Marshal Montgomery was a such a commander who never thought of risking single life of his troops unreasonably. He had many challenges with his troops and the most important one was to overcome the accumulated fear his men from the Germans. He restored confidence and morale to a greater extent required. Field Marshal Montgomery was criticised by Allied Commanders whose plans he never considered to execute but was never discouraged. In the end he received recognition of outstanding performance for the continued victory in the North Africa from the United States of America.

50. He was as a good war architect who always planed his operations through a process of comprehensive study where he endeavoured to consider risks in the operations. He was passionate about his soldiers as thus he could not commit them without a thorough studied plan. He addressed the moral aspect of soldiers by keeping them informed as to why they were fighting. By doing so he persuaded their will to fight.

51. Although Field Marshal Montgomery had performed exceptionally during his militarily carrier and displayed full commitment, he had certain weaknesses. On several accounts he opposed plans of his fellow commanders. Although he was a charismatic military leader who knew that he monopolized planning expertise. He could for that matter not execute plans designed by others. Despite his plans that born good battle results especially in North Africa he was the principle planner of the failed airborne attempt to Bridge River Rhine at Amhem for Allied Forces river crossing.

52. Nevertheless, Field Marshal Montgomery was not only a tactician but also a good administrator. It was him who initiated administration and morale as principles of war which we are practicing today.

53. Finally, it was not the end of a war hero who sacrificed his whole life to the betterment of British people. He is still alive not only in Britain but throughout the world. His teachings and theories are still alive even after seven decades of his demise.


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