Talk:Bernard Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Former good article nominee Bernard Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein was a Warfare good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
          This article is of interest to the following WikiProjects:
WikiProject Military history (Rated B-Class)
MILHIST This article is within the scope of the Military history WikiProject. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the project and see a list of open tasks. To use this banner, please see the full instructions.
B This article has been rated as B-Class on the quality assessment scale.
WikiProject Biography / Military / Peerage and Baronetage (Rated B-class)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Biography, a collaborative effort to create, develop and organize Wikipedia's articles about people. All interested editors are invited to join the project and contribute to the discussion. For instructions on how to use this banner, please refer to the documentation.
B-Class article B  This article has been rated as B-Class on the project's quality scale.
Taskforce icon
This article is supported by the military biography work group (marked as Top-importance).
Taskforce icon
This article is supported by WikiProject Peerage and Baronetage.

Reputation in proportion[edit]

I think there should be a section on how his strengths and weaknesses are now perceived, since his reputation had been largely inflated for propaganda reasons, and later demolished by critics with their own agenda. The consensus among younger, unbiased historians would usefully complete the picture. Valetude (talk) 14:05, 15 April 2014 (UTC)

That's a good intention but it's not sure it will be achieved one day. Per example, some years ago there was a kind of controversy in Germany about the real Rommel and the image we had of him after WWII. As Montogmery, he was used heavily for propaganda meanings. Montgomery will stay as the favorite British general of WWII and so it will always be controvertial into trying to complete the picture of the guy used to boost the British morale during the second world war, especially after Dunkirk, Tobruk, Singapore, Hong-Kong, etc. Let's take the second battle of El Alamein, during years historians and public perception ignored the fact that Monty enjoyed the defensive line made by Auchinleck (in his memoirs, Monty lied in saying Auchinleck wanted to retreat) but also thanks to ULTRA he knew the battle plan of Rommel (in a propaganda use, Monty had a portrait of Rommel and was able to decipher his enemy's intentions from it). Does that reduce the ability of Montgomery as a general, not at all. It just puts more reality than myth. (talk) 17:42, 16 August 2014 (UTC)

How come the story of Montgomery and the Flying Fortress isn`t in this article ?[edit]

How come the story of Montgomery and the Flying Fortress isn`t in this article ? It`s well authenticated and accepted as fact by all students of WWII. In fact there seems to be hardly any mention of Montgomery`s infamous ability to upset people including his allies and superiors.--JustinSmith (talk) 12:59, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

Do we get any clues as to what story you are talking about, I suspect it is not mentioned because it is probably unheard of and not notable. MilborneOne (talk) 14:06, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

I would say it`s very notable. Not only would a brief web search bring up loads of results but the last two books on WWII which I read (World War 2 by Gordon Corrigan and Alanbrooke`s war diaries) both mention it. However, in an article purporting to be all about Montgomery, its significance is even greater because anyone who knows anything about him also knows he was a very flawed character. Even his "patron" CIGS Alanbrooke himself states (e.g. his war diaries pages 418/9, 516, 531, 550 & 638) he is liable to commit untold errors in lack of tact + I had to haul him over the coals for his usual lack of tact and egotistical outlook which prevented him from appreciating other people`s feelings.
Anyway, the infamous Flying Fortress incident :
Monty bet Walter Bedell Smith that he could capture Sfax by the middle of April 1943. Smith jokingly replied that if Monty could do it he would give him a Flying Fortress complete with crew. Smith promptly forgot all about it, but Montgomery didn`t, and when he did in fact take Sfax on the 10th of April he sent a message to Smith "claiming his winnings". Smith tried to laugh it off, but Montgomery was having none of it and insisted on his FF. It got as high as Eisenhower who was said to be absolutely furious, but his usual skill at diplomacy meant he ensured Montgomery did in fact get his FF, though at a great cost in ill feeling. Even Alanbrooke thought it "crass stupidity" (war diaries p418).--JustinSmith (talk) 21:18, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

From memory the plane crashed some time later, and Monty was not allowed to claim a replacement.Paulturtle (talk) 04:04, 9 August 2014 (UTC)
The incident may not be that notable to this article. Does it feature significantly in biographies that are solely about Monty? And is it only illustrative of Monty's character rather than affecting his life or work? And what to reliable sources say that it shows about Monty - that he took things very seriously, that he pursued matters even when "diplomatically" unwise? GraemeLeggett (talk) 19:10, 9 August 2014 (UTC)
This blog (sketchy referencing) suggests the story is more complex. That Monty's predecessor William Gott was killed as a result of his aircraft being attacked by German aircraft could be seen as a valid reason for taking the opportunity to lay hands on something a bit better protected. But in covering Monty's nature, it would be better to hear what his biographers had to say in general on the matter. GraemeLeggett (talk) 19:33, 9 August 2014 (UTC)
Whether or not a story features in an article, or whether or not commentators on the talk page have heard of it, does not usually have much bearing on its notability - it usually just means that the article has grown up piecemeal and that nobody has ever really taken it in hand and transcribed a précis of the contents of some good biographies.
It's mentioned in Nigel Hamilton's triple-decker biography, which I read back in the 80s but do not have to hand (I may have misremembered the story of it crashing). Alastair Horne (p60 of "The Lonely Leader") mentions his acquiring the B-17, and how it rubbed the Americans up the wrong way. In his own memoirs Monty claims that Bedell Smith had originally intended it as a joke, that it was useful for flying around large distances in Tunisia, that the RAF had refused to supply him with a plane despite requests, that he made a trip to England and back in it in May 43, and that he swapped it for a Dakota with a jeep on board as airfields in Sicily were too small. Neither Monty nor Horne mention anything to do with Strafer Gott.Paulturtle (talk) 01:10, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

Basically, if even Allenbrooke (Montgomery`s patron) though it worthwhile mentioning it in some detail in his war diaries, that says it all. How could falling out with Bedell Smith and Eisenhower at the same time not be very notable. In fact if Allenbrooke hadn`t been such a supporter of Montgomery I suspect Monty would have fallen out with the CIGS as well ! The incident is very notable, not only in itself but as an indication of Montgomery`s flawed character. There are a few references to the latter throughout the article, I personally think they`d be better off all in the same section. --JustinSmith (talk) 07:59, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

It would appear the B-17E was serial "41-9082" that was loaned to Montgomery. MilborneOne (talk) 10:17, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
I'm a late comer to this conversation. A couple of things.
1- The B-17 was wrecked in the summer of 1943
2- I have all three of volumes of Hamilton's biography of Monty. Haven't read them in about a decade.
If this was deemed notable, Hamilton did go into it in some detail about the B-17. I could source something in the article about it....William 10:36, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
Feel free. When you're done, I can add some stuff from Monty's memoirs (if there's anything not covered by Hamilton). One suspects he is telling a selective version of the story.Paulturtle (talk) 10:45, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

"It's mentioned in Nigel Hamilton's triple-decker biography, which I read back in the 80s but do not have to hand (I may have misremembered the story of it crashing). Alastair Horne (p60 of "The Lonely Leader") mentions his acquiring the B-17, and how it rubbed the Americans up the wrong way. In his own memoirs Monty claims that Bedell Smith had originally intended it as a joke, that it was useful for flying around large distances in Tunisia, that the RAF had refused to supply him with a plane despite requests, that he made a trip to England and back in it in May 43, and that he swapped it for a Dakota with a jeep on board as airfields in Sicily were too small. Neither Monty nor Horne mention anything to do with Strafer Gott.Paulturtle"
Allenbrooke`s war diaries (p418) = "When I accused Monty of crass stupidity for impairing his relations with Eisenhower for the sake of an aircraft which might have been provided from our own resources". I`m sure that inter service rivalry would mean the RAF wouldn`t be happy to provide a plane unless they were "encouraged" to do so but I find it hard to believe that the CIGS couldn`t ensure Montgomery got a suitable British sourced plane without the need for the whole sorry episode, which may have had untold effects later in the war as the Americans took over more of the positions of higher command.--JustinSmith (talk) 11:15, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

"General Eisenhower's Chief of Staff, Bedell Smith, had visited me in Tripoli in February and we had discussed the problem of how soon the Eighth Army could join up with the First Army north of Gabes. I had said that I would be in Sfax by the 15th April. Bedell Smith said that if I could do that, General Eisenhower would give me anything I liked to ask for. I said that I would do it, and would like an aeroplane for my personal use. Bedell Smith agreed, willingly.
On the morning of the 10th April I sent a message to Eisenhower asking for the aircraft. It arrived on the 16th April, a B-17 (a Flying Fortress). It made me a thoroughly mobile General. Later I got properly ticked-off by Brooke, the C.I.G.S , for my action in the matter. He said it was all a joke on the part of Bedell Smith and that Eisenhower was furious when I demanded the aircraft. I explained that it was very far from a joke on that day in Tripoli when the statement was made. I don't think Bedell Smith had ever told Eisenhower about it, and he was suddenly confronted with having to pay. Brooke added that the RAF could well have provided me with an aircraft; they certainly could, but didn't - in spite of my repeated requests. Eisenhower produced it at once. And, being the great and generous man he is, he arranged that I was provided with an aircraft from American sources for the rest of the war; furthermore, he did this for my Chief of Staff also. He saw the need and acted promptly." The Memoirs of Field-Marshall Montgomery - 1958, P. 164
I think it's usually called 'Calling someone's bluff'.
BTW, If the whole affair caused the British embarrassment that was their own fault - they should have provided Montgomery with what he had asked for in the first place. Instead, it was left to the generosity of Eisenhower and the US to do it.
...and Eisenhower can't have been too put out by Monty over the B-17 as later in January 1944 he refused to let Monty fly from Marrakesh to London in Monty's two-engined Dakota, even though it had been fitted with additional fuel tanks, and arranged for a four-engined C-54 to fly him home instead - P. 213— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:02, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
"M 424 Personal for Eisenhower from Montgomery.
My dear Ike, Have received the new C/47 you have so kindly lent me and I understand you have sent me one that was intended for yourself. Such spontaneous kindness touches me deeply and from my heart I send you my grateful thanks. If there is anything I can ever do to ease the tremendous burden that you bear you know you only have to command me. And I want you to know that I shall always stand firmly behind you in everything you do." P. 310
The previous Dakota had been 'shot to pieces' during large-scale Luftwaffe attacks against airfields in Holland and Belgium on January the 1st 1945 - Operation Bodenplatte. Ike replaced it immediately and Montgomery sent the above signal to thank him on the 6th January. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:18, 4 September 2014 (UTC)

Press conference text[edit]

I moved the lengthy text of Montgomery's press conference from the article on the Battle of the Bulge here. This article appears to be relatively "pro" Montgomery and until this point made no mention of his arraogance and conflicts with Eisenhower.. — btphelps (talk to me) (what I've done) 05:56, 22 September 2014 (UTC)

Is that particular quote of what he said from Monty's own book? If so, it's copyrighted, and cannot be used here. (Besides, primary sources are not preferred.) --A D Monroe III (talk) 22:20, 22 September 2014 (UTC)
Monty's "difficult" ways with people are mentioned in article. But it's meant to be a summary not replicate "lengthy" (as you put it )sections from other articles. GraemeLeggett (talk) 05:23, 23 September 2014 (UTC)
In fairness, there used - some years ago - to be a lengthy and in my view not unfair summary of Monty's personal oddities and spectacular ability to rub people up the wrong the way, as well as the way he handed his critics a gift by later pretending that everything at Second Alamein and Normandy (both of them difficult battles against an entrenched opponent which he handled far from badly in the circumstances) had gone perfectly according to plan. It got wiped for being "uncited". There is certainly room for more analysis and discussion of these things if somebody wants to take the trouble to write them.Paulturtle (talk) 11:02, 17 October 2014 (UTC)


If you read Carlo D'Este's history of the Normandy battles, it's quite clear that Monty intended to take Caen early in the campaign; he was to push forward in his sector, while the Americans wheeled around to take the Cherbourg peninsula. His failure to take Caen for weeks was a major problem, sucking up tons of resources, air and ground, and to cover this failure (which, in fairness, was due to German resistance as much as British dilatoriness), after the war he invented the idea that Caen was a "holding" operation to cover the American advance, tying up German troops, etc etc. What this means is that the Normandy section of the article essentially swallows Monty's b.s. wholesale (as did the BBC in its docu-drama on the topic, From D-Day to Berlin). NB: I am using Frankfurt's definition of b.s., according to which the b.s.-er simply doesn't care whether what he is saying is true or false, he simply seeks to create an impression of himself as wonderful.Theonemacduff (talk) 16:26, 30 September 2014 (UTC)

Montgomery`s "I`ve torn up all withdrawl plans"[edit]

I have to say I`m surprised that any informed observer could dispute the fact that Montomery announcing that he`d "torn up all plans for withdrawl" were anything other than bunkum and self aggrandisement. The fact that The Auk had no plans to withdraw and had carefully chosen the EA position as being the most defensible is in every book on the subject, the last one I read Gordon Corrigan`s World War II. It was also in Dimbleby`s TV programme on the desert war which has only just been on the TV ! But, in actual fact, there`s a reference to it on the same "Montgomery" page ! :

He was threatened with legal action by Field-Marshal Auchinleck for suggesting that Auchinleck had intended to retreat from the Alamein position if attacked again, and had to give a radio broadcast (20 November 1958) expressing his gratitude to Auchinleck for having stabilised the front at the First Battle of Alamein. The 1960 paperback edition of his memoirs contains a publisher's note drawing attention to that broadcast, and stating that in the publisher's view the reader might reasonably assume from Montgomery's text that Auchinleck had been planning to retreat "into the Nile Delta or beyond" and pointing out that it had been Auchinleck's intention to launch an offensive as soon as Eighth Army was "rested and regrouped

This last reversion really is going a bit far...... --JustinSmith (talk) 09:17, 19 November 2014 (UTC)

So cite it. Whether as a statement of Monty to impress his new staff, or that there were no plans to withdraw, even contingency ones. GraemeLeggett (talk) 12:44, 19 November 2014 (UTC)

I don`t understand what you`re asking. Cite what ? If you`re saying you insist on a citation for what every historian and his dog knows to be true there`s one on the same page under "Later Life". You don`t even have to look it up because I`ve quoted it for you in the opener. --JustinSmith (talk) 13:36, 19 November 2014 (UTC)

A motivational speech intended to impress - related to this declaration? BBC School radio or this to the troops. GraemeLeggett (talk) 16:58, 19 November 2014 (UTC)
I have added the cite myself. WP:SOURCE requires all material to be properly cited. I spent some time inserting citations and generally improving the article such that it achieved "B" assessment sometime ago. So please don't add uncited material to an assessed article. Noted that I would not be regarded as "an informed observer"! Best wishes. Dormskirk (talk) 22:43, 19 November 2014 (UTC)

Jolly good.--JustinSmith (talk) 17:48, 20 November 2014 (UTC)

On the point of "and had to give a radio broadcast..." Since the BBC have their "genome" project to list every programme they have broadcast, I wondered what the programming was on 20 November 1958. The best match on the day in question is a nominally 45 min "Memoirs of Field Marshall Montgomery". The current phrasing makes it sound more like a modern mea culpa through press conference, though given the length of the programme was it more likely the case that Monty had to include it in an already planned broadcast about the book? Could that be checked in the sources by someone.
The google search for more about the broadcast turned up this. The Tablet has this to say in their book review from the 8th November edition "It is natural, but hardly relevant, for Field Marshal Auchinleck to say, as he has done recently, that there was no intention to withdraw behind the Nile; that there were plans to attack Rommel, and that new divisions, tanks and guns were flowing into Egypt to ensure success. The point is that the troops on the ground outside Alexandria did not know this. Rightly or wrongly they assumed that they were going to retreat again. There were rumours that new Headquarters for the Eighth Army had been set up in Jerusalem. No troops could win in such a mood. The new General changed all that."
That backs up the morale speech angle. a poor OCR of the memoirs at gives what presumably Auchinleck objected to "Lt.-Gen. Ramsden, ...explained the situation to me. I cross-examined him about the Army plans for a withdrawal if Rommel attacked; certain orders had been issued about the withdrawal but they were indefinite. There was an air of uncertainty about everything in the operation line" and "During lunch I did some savage drinking. After lunch I wrote a telegram to G.H.Q. saying that I had assumed command of Eighth Army .... I then cancelled all previous orders about withdrawal. I issued orders that in the event of enemy attack there would be no withdrawal; we would fight on the ground we now held and if we couldn t stay there alive we would stay there dead". GraemeLeggett (talk) 19:06, 20 November 2014 (UTC)
Or perhaps more likely this bit from another OCR of the memoirs "Auchinleck took me into his map-room and shut the door; we were alone. He asked me if I knew he was to go. I said that I did. He then explained to me his plan of operations; this was based on the fact that at all costs the Eighth Army was to be preserved "in being" and must not be destroyed in battle. If Rommel attacked in strength, as was expected soon, the Eighth Army would fall back on the Delta; if Cairo and the Delta could not be held, the army would retreat southwards up the Nile, and another possibility was a withdrawal to Palestine. Plans were being made to move the Eighth Army H.Q. back up the Nile". GraemeLeggett (talk) 19:15, 20 November 2014 (UTC)