Profile: General Bernard Montgomery

By | March 22, 2019

[March 22, 2019] Before I graduated from High School, I went to see the movie Patton (1970) with friends I would never see again. My takeaway from the movie was that the Germans were not that good and British General Bernard Montgomery was both egotistical and a highly overrated commander.1

American filmmakers routinely portray WWII as being won by U.S. land, sea, and air power; while undervaluing contributions made by other nations. Patton (1970) was no exception. The portrayal of a bumbling General Montgomery – while the opposite is true – is something I hold against this movie. But I was hooked on the U.S. Army nonetheless and joined a few years later.

“The first duty of a leader is optimism. How does your subordinate feel after meeting with you? Does he feel uplifted? If not, you are not a leader.” – British General Bernard L. Montgomery

General Montgomery was a very effective commander, and despite stereotypes to the contrary, he was innovative and accepted only the very best from people. His direct but grating personality did not win him many allies. Here are General Bernard Montgomery’s main leadership characteristics:

  • Exceptionally capable in organizing and running activities
  • Practical, traditional, and organized
  • A visionary who was capable of making complex situations understandable
  • Simple and direct; with an abrasive personality
  • Blunt and opinionated
  • Deeply believed in the evil of Nazism and that God was on the side of the Allies
  • Confident, intelligent, experienced

Montgomery was a great general during World War II. His ability to inspire his troops and cooperate – despite his abrasive personality – helped him achieve many victories against the Nazi war machine. Early during the war, Montgomery planned major operations; several like Operation Market Garden didn’t work out well.

Recently, I saw the movie Patton and found the directors use of American tanks and weapons being used by the German Army to be irritating. However, the movie is inspiring. Just watch the introductory scene when George C. Scott, playing Patton, gives a rousing speech (see YouTube video of it here, 2:42 minutes).

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https://www.biographyonline.net/military/bernard-montgomery.html

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

15 thoughts on “Profile: General Bernard Montgomery

  1. Willie Shrumburger

    Another great article. I especially like your series on Profiles of Great Leaders.
    I’m glad General Montgomery made the list.

  2. Max Foster

    You don’t have to be popular to be a great leader and British General Montgomery was not as popular (in today’s history) than others. He got the job done and did it with minimal loss of life. He disagreed with the methods used by the Supreme Commander Eisenhower and maybe that is why Montgomery is not as fully studied. His ways might have worked just as well.

    1. Mr. T.J. Asper

      Good point. Strategy to take on the European theater first was an example of this. Defeating Japan was secondary in the WW2 strategy.

      1. Fred Weber

        Thanks Mr. TJ. It does us good to study not just the strategies of WW2 (or any war) but also the thinking and personalities that were behind the strategies. That is how we can learn more.

    2. Bill Sanders, Jr.

      Good points as usual. Thank you Max for inspiring me to “think” more.

  3. Wilson Cox

    Very good info in your article. I’m a bit of a fan of your mini series on famous leaders. Keep it up. I like them. I recommend that you have some of the great Greek generals next. Thanks.

    1. Lynn Pitts

      I agree. Leonidas (540 – 480 BC, Greece) would be the one I recommend. Gen Satterfield has already done Alexander the Great. Thanks Wilson.

  4. Shawn C. Stolarz

    I believe owe tremendous gratitude to anyone who would step up into such a high position with enormous responsibility in a wartime environment and lead troops into battle.

  5. Army Captain

    Gen. Montgomery was a good senior leader in Britain at the time. He did his job. Maybe ‘Monty’ was not as flashy as Gen Patton or some of the others but he was someone who got the job done with the few resources he had available.

    1. Joe the Aussie

      Yes, I agree. Much of our info from that war is from the US so expect them to be biased. Cheers!

      1. Andrew Dooley

        True, but we are starting to see more tv series and movies from England, Australia, and New Zealand.

    2. Gil Johnson

      Thanks Army Captain. I agree with your sentiment and observation. There will always be bias. That is why we must read and talk with others to get a better overall picture of what really happened.

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