This month’s hall of fame throws the spotlight on Field-Marshall Bernard Law Montgomery.
Born in London in 1887, Montgomery was to see active service in the First World War where he was shot in the right lung by a sniper. Gazette number 28992 published on the 1 December 1914, printed a notice proclaiming his ‘gallant leadership’ during the retreat from Mons – an action that saw him rewarded by King and country with a Distinguished Service Order. The notice further describes how he ‘turned the enemy out of their trenches with the bayonet’ – despite being severely wounded.
Montgomery was to go on to spend a portion of the inter-war years in Ireland as a Brigade Major in the 17th Infantry Brigade during the latter stages of the Irish War of Independence. At the dawn of the Second World War, he commanded the 3rd Infantry Division in Belgium as part of the British Expeditionary Force, masterminding a successful return to Britain after the Belgian forces had surrendered. Despite numerous clashes with his superiors, Montgomery’s ability to galvanise a campaign meant he continued to be considered an invaluable part of prosecuting the war. After steering the Eighth Army to a conspicuous victory over Field-Marshal Erwin Rommel’s forces in the dust of Alamein, Montgomery’s military career reached its apex during the Normandy Landings. Given command of all Allied troops on the ground as part of Operation Overlord under the overall direction of American General Dwight D. Eisenhower, his forces played an integral role in encircling the German army at the Falaise Pocket – the decisive engagement of the Normandy battles.
Not surprisingly, the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood was quick to recognise his achievements. In The Gazette number 37407 published on the 28 December 1945, Field-Marshall Sir Bernard Law Montgomery G.C.B, D.S.O received notice that he was to be elevated to the peerage as Viscount Montgomery of Alamein.