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Bernard Montgomery

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Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, KG, GCB, DSO, PC (17 November 1887 – 24 March 1976), often referred to as "Monty", was a British Army officer. He saw action in World War I, when he was seriously wounded, and during World War II he commanded the 8th Army from August 1942 in the Western Desert until the final Allied victory in Tunisia. This command included the Battle of El Alamein, a major turning point in the Western Desert Campaign. He subsequently commanded Eighth Army in Sicily and Italy before being given responsibility for planning the D-Day invasion in Normandy. 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. As such he was the principal field commander for the failed airborne attempt to bridge the Rhine at Arnhem and the Allied Rhine crossing. On 4 May 1945 he took the German surrender at Luneburg Heath in northern Germany. After the War he became Commander-in-Chief of the British Forces of Occupation in Germany and then Chief of the Imperial General Staff.

BiographyEdit

Market GardenEdit

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.

ArdennesEdit

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.

TriviaEdit

Montgomery is mentioned in name at the end of Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway. Mac criticizes the Field Marshall for his tactics (which different greately from his American fellows), and it is because of Montgomery's tactics that Mac blames him for the failure in Eindhoven, stating that he "got gready". By this, he was refering to the rapid pace at which the Allies had moved into Europe; in reality Montgomery was notoriously careful, slowing down his tanks as they pushed through Belgium in case they ran out of fuel.

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