Monty’s school: the benign side of Viscount Montgomery of Alamein

Historian article

By Richard Hughes, published 26th April 2021

Field-Marshal Montgomery and St John's School, Leatherhead

Field-Marshal Montgomery has a reputation as a strong-willed battle-hardened leader, with a touch of the impetuous. Few know of his charitable side and yet in his later years this side was just as important to his activities. In this article we find out a bit more of this often simplistically characterised man.

It was an event of some moment. On a summer’s day in June 1948 in a quiet Surrey suburb a group of local army cadets was standing in formation awaiting the arrival of its inspecting officer. The large green space where the inspection was taking place had been loaned to the cadets by a local independent school. The inspecting officer was a particularly distinguished figure so there was an extra degree of nervousness and there was also some surprise that, given his eminence and the extent of his current responsibilities, he had been able to afford the time to involve himself in so relatively modest an occasion. The inspecting officer was none other than Field-Marshal Bernard Montgomery.

It is hard today to comprehend the significance of the Field-Marshal in the years immediately following the Second World War. Time has not been particularly kind to the memory and the reputation of the combative war leader. Yet, despite his imperfections, he was perhaps the most dominant symbol of the recent victory against Germany and his image rested large in the collective consciousness of the nation...

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