[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).