He was born in London, England in 1887.
In August 1942, Winston Churchill appointed Montgomery commander of the British 8th Army in the North African campaign. He successfully pushed back Erwin Rommel, forcing him to retreat from Egypt after the Second Battle of El Alamein.
Under the command of Eisenhower, he successfully led the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943. A feature of the Sicily campaign was Montgomery's clash of personality with the American officer leading 7th Army, General George Patton. Both had enormous egos, and desired to be the centre of attention so far as coverage of the campaign was concerned.
After Sicily, Montgomery continued to command 8th Army during the landings on the mainland of Italy itself. Shortly thereafter, he was recalled to the UK to take part in planning Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy.
Prior to the Normandy invasion, Montgomery assumed command of 21st Army Group, and commanded that formation for the rest of the war in Europe. After D-Day, and until Eisenhower came to France, and assumed command, Montgomery commanded all Allied ground forces. His performance during the Normandy landings was criticised by some, who considered his plans unimaginative and too rigid.
He was most successful with well planned attacks with overwhelming forces, such as at Alamein. He had less fortune with dramatic strokes like Operation Market Garden which led to the defeat of the 1st Airborne Division outside Arnhem. When first shown the plans, one general said, "It looks like you're going a bridge too far."
On January 7, 1945 Montgomery held a press conference in which he claimed credit for the victory in the Battle of the Bulge. This caused some degree of controversy with the Americans who felt that Montgomery held back his forces too long.
He was created 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein in 1946.
His reputation was tarnished by evidence of racism with the 1999 revelation of previously secret papers from 1947-1948 when he held the position Chief of the Imperial Defence Staff. During that period he was strictly enjoined to silence about his views, which were contrary to British policy, and agents were assigned to vet his public appearances for compliance.
He passed away in 1976 and was interred in the Holy Cross Churchyard, Binstead, Hampshire.
See Also: Famous military commanders
“The U.S. has broken the second rule of war. That is, don't go fighting with your land army on the mainland of Asia. Rule One is don't march on Moscow. I developed these two rules myself.”
- (spoken of American policy in Vietnam) Quoted in Chalfont's Montgomery of Alamein.