SURPLUS ORDNANCE Episode 25: Patton

Mike Andrews
Bachelors in History, Secondary Education student in a Masters program

Early life to the beginning of WWII

Patton’s family

  • Of Irish, Scots-Irish, English, Scottish, French, Welsh descent.
  • Welsh line was an aristocratic family of the lords of Glamorgan (militaristic background).
  • Early American ancestors (Hugh Mercer, Scottish rebel who later became a general under George Washington’s Continental Army). Beginning of a long tradition of Patton family members being military men.
  • Mid 1770’s Patton family settled in Virginia.
  • John Patton serves under Stonewall Jackson and his brother George Smith Patton is killed by a cannon ball while serving as a Colonel in the Confederacy.
  • The family, now ex-Confederates after the Civil War, moved to California after losing most of its fortune.
  • 1885: George Smith Patton Jr, grandson of the Colonel, was born in San Gabriel and was well taken care of by his father George S. II.

Patton’s Childhood

  • Wealthy parents spoiled Patton and rarely corrected his behavior.
  • Late reader and poor speller. Schooled at home by his aunt called “Nannie”. She had an interest in eastern religion and philosophy. Patton learned about the Bhagavad-Gita and the Quran. He liked the Iliad as well.
  • He was convinced that in a past life he had witnessed war.
  • His father kept Patton interested in the military thanks to his retellings of Civil War and Revolutionary War patriots.
  • Tutored from home until the age of 11. “Georgie” as he was called was frustrated with his difficulty with school. He harbored “deep feelings of inferiority”. In Pasadena at a boy’s school he wrote home “I am stupid there is no use talking I am stupid”.
  • Eventually Patton overcame these issues and was known to be an avid reader. He was particularly well versed in the exploits and history of classical military history (Hannibal, Scipio Africanus, Julius Caesar, Napoleon, and Joan of Arc).
  • Avid horseback rider.


  • Patton never really considered another career aside from the military.
  • 17 years old - attended the VMI (Virginia Military Institute) and performed particularly well in uniform/appearance inspection+military drill.
  • Nominated to go to West Point by Senator Thomas R. Bard.
  • Forced to repeat his first year thanks to his poor academic performance.
  • Became a specialized modern pentathlete and competed in the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm. Placed fifth after four Swedes.
  • Received a commission as a second lieutenant in the Cavalry after graduating West Point. Pancho Villa Expedition
  • Patton was assigned to border patrol with the 8th Cavalry in Sierra Blanca.
  • Almost shot himself in the foot with his Colt .45 pistol and switched to adopting his now famous Single Action Army revolver.
  • 1916 - Pancho Villa’s forces raided Columbus, New Mexico and killed several Americans.
  • Patton appealed to expedition commander John J. Pershing to join him to go fight Pancho Villa. Pershing made Patton his personal aid (Pershing also had married Patton’s sister.
  • He took lessons from Pershing’s military style which favored strong decisive action.
  • Patton later commanded Troop C of the 13th Cavalry and led a manhunt for Pancho Villa and his subordinates.
  • May 14th 1916: the first motorized attack in the history of US warfare. It killed Julio Cardenas, one of Villa’s men, and gave Patton the monicor “Bandit Killer”. It is unclear if Patton personally killed the man.

World War I

  • Patton was stationed in Front Royal, Virginia, but when Pershing became commander of the AEF (American Expeditionary Force) Patton requested to join his command staff. He was appointed as captain as a result and would join Pershing in WWI.
  • Patton became more interested in tanks while abroad in Europe.
  • November 10, 1917. Patton established the AEF Light Tank school. He drove a Renault French tank and learned how they were built and even helped guide a bunch of them off of a train.
  • Battle of Saint-Mihiel, Patton commands the US 1st Tank Corps and reconnoitered the enemy himself. He declared that no tank shall be surrendered and led the tanks from the front for most of the battle.
  • Patton moved to support the U.S. 1st Corps in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in September. He led troops and tanks through thick fog. He was wounded by German machine guns and was saved by his orderly PFC Joe Angelo, who received the Distinguished Service Cross for the effort. Patton continued to command the battle from a shell crater.
  • Although wounded and out of action until the end of the war, Patton was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and the Purple Heart when it was created in 1932.


  • Patton worked on designing a tank operation manual when back in the states in 1920.
  • He met Dwight D Eisenhower in D.C. and they became fast friends. Patton helped Eisenhower with his studies at the General Staff College.
  • Patton worked with Eisenhower to push forward more focus on armored warfare not as simple support for infantry but as an independent force to use in the military. Although it did not happen now, 1940 would see an establishment of Patton’s vision.
  • In July of 1932 Patton was ordered to quell a group of protesting veterans (called the Bonus Army, tens of thousands of vets who demanded early advancement of their cash bonuses from serving). Tear gas and bayonets were used to disperse the crowd, although Patton disagreed with these tactics to some degree (implemented and ordered by Douglas MacArthur) because Patton believed these protesters had some good cause for their efforts. Joe Angelo was one of the protestors and Patton ordered him away for fear of what headlines might make of such an encounter.
  • Patton was stationed in Hawaii and made some interestingly accurate predictions about the Japanese launching a surprise invasion of Hawaii. He followed their attacks throughout China and devised a plan to intern Japanese living in Hawaii at the time (1935).

*Other notes *

  • Married Beatrice Banning Ayer at the age of 24 in May of 1910. They had three children.
  • Patton was close to receiving a gold medal in the Olympics. The Judges determined that his shooting of a target resulted in one of his bullets going through a previously made hole. Patton had this to say about the matter: “The high spirit of sportsmanship and generosity manifested throughout speaks volumes for the character of the officers of the present day. There was not a single incident of a protest or any unsportsmanlike quibbling or fighting for points which I may say, marred some of the other civilian competitions at the Olympic Games. Each man did his best and took what fortune sent them like a true soldier, and at the end we all felt more like good friends and comrades than rivals in a severe competition, yet this spirit of friendship in no manner detracted from the zeal with which all strove for success.”
  • Patton was responsible for the creation of a specific saber now called the “Patton Saber”. 1912 saw Patton train under a French master of arms named Charles Clery. Patton’s sword favored thrusting attacks versus slashing as had been traditional in the US cavalry doctrine.He would have been in the 1916 Olympics had WWI not disrupted those plans.
  • During WWI, Patton may have killed one of his own men: "Some of my reserve tanks were stuck by some trenches. So I went back and made some Americans hiding in the trenches dig a passage. I think I killed one man here. He would not work so I hit him over the head with a shovel".
  • Patton received a rather grievous wound in WWI. In a letter to his wife he writes about being shot: "The bullet went into the front of my left leg and came out just at the crack of my bottom about two inches to the left of my rectum. It was fired at about 50 m so made a hole about the size of a [silver] dollar where it came out."

Sections: Patton’s Family, Patton’s Childhood, Education
Axelrod, Alan (2006), Patton: A Biography, London: Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 978-1-4039-7139-5. Pg. 11-13, 20-24.
Gnam, Carl. “George S. Patton Jr.'s Upbringing: The Making of the Legend.” Warfare History Network, October 6, 2020.
Rierden, Andi. “The Patton Family: An Intimate Portrait.” The New York Times. The New York Times, June 12, 1994.
Sections: Pancho Villa Expedition, WWI
Blumenson, Martin (1972), The Patton Papers: 1885–1940, Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 978-0-395-12706-3. P. 706-708, 764-766.
Zaloga, Steven (2010), George S. Patton: Leadership, Strategy, Conflict, Oxford, United Kingdom: Osprey Publishing, ISBN 978-1-84603-459-6. P. 10.
Section: Inter-war
Allen, Thomas; Dickson, Paul (2006), The Bonus Army: An American Epic, London: Walker & Company, ISBN 978-0-8027-7738-6
Axelrod, Alan (2006), Patton: A Biography, London: Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 978-1-4039-7139-5. P. 65-66.
Brighton, Terry (2009), Patton, Montgomery, Rommel: Masters of War, New York City: Crown Publishing Group, ISBN 978-0-307-46154-4. P. 58-59.
D'Este, Carlo (1995), Patton: A Genius for War, New York City: Harper Collins, ISBN 978-0-06-016455-3. P. 361.
Sections: Other Notes
Blumenson, Martin (1972), The Patton Papers: 1885–1940, Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 978-0-395-12706-3. 231-234, 616.
D'Este, Carlo (1995), Patton: A Genius for War, New York City: Harper Collins, ISBN 978-0-06-016455-3. P. 148.
Hallas, James H. (2009). Doughboy War: The American Expeditionary Force in WWI. Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books. pp. 245–246.

Micah Neidorfler
Army Infantry Officer
BA in History
Graduate of US Army Command and General Staff College's: Army Historian Course


Patton graduated from West Point in 1904 as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Cavalry. While still at the academy he struggled academically but excelled in fencing, drill and ceremony, and sports despite suffering injuries.

Post commissioning he served in the 15th Cavalry Regiment and notably competed in the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm Sweden, where he competed and placed 4th in the "modern pentathlon".

After the Olympics he was allowed to study fencing for a time in France, and upon returning to the US helped rewrite cavalry doctrine and redesigned the army's cavalry sabre in 1913.

He was then assigned to the Army Cavalry School to both attend a number of courses as a student and also serve as a fencing instructor. He graduated in 1915 and was supposed to return to the 15th Cavalry Regiment, but feared his career progression would stagnate in that unit and used his political connections to be reassigned to the 8th Cavalry, stationed in Texas, with the hope that the political unrest in Mexico would eventually turn into a war which the US would participate in.

In 1916 Mexican revolutionary forces raided a town in southern New Mexico and the US Army launched an expedition to suppress paramilitary/revolutionary forces. Patton's immediate unit was not assigned to the expedition so Patton reached out to General Pershing (the commander of the expedition) and begged to be assigned a position in the expedition. Pershing agreed and made Patton is adjutant, responsible for managing many administrative functions as well as partially managing logistics. Later in the expedition Patton again begged Pershing for an assignment to a combat unit and was assigned down to a Troop (the Calvary call companies: troops). He saw combat on one patrol and gained
Pershing's trust and confidence and was promoted to 1st Lieutenant. He was reassigned out of the expedition in 1917.

The same year he was promoted to Captain and was again assigned to Pershing's Staff, this time Pershing was commanding the American Expeditionary Force headed to France to take part in the First World War. After a few months in staff work Patton grew interested in the development and utilization of Tanks by the British and French, and was given leave to travel to different British and French units to learn about their employment and see them being made. He was then assigned to lead the AEF's Tank School, and was promoted to Major, having only spent a handful of months as a Captain, and then four months later was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. (Captain to Lieutenant Colonel in the same year!)

After attending some truncated professional military schooling in France he was assigned to command the first American tank brigade, and led the brigade through multiple battles of the Meuse–Argonne offensive in 1918. During this time he endeavored to lead from the front as much as possible and personally commanded tanks in the thick of the fighting. One one occasion he wrote in a letter that he may have killed an American Soldier who refursed to help dig a stuck tank out of mud by hitting him over the head with a shovel. He was wounded in the leg during one battle and moved to the rear to heal. While recuperating he was promoted to full Colonel (about a year after making Lieutenant Colonel).

After the war Patton returned to the rank of Captain (it was common during war prior to the mid 20th century for officers to be promoted temporarily during war time to fill important positions, once the wars ended officers would return to their last "normal" rank.) but was promoted to Major again the next day.

During he post-war period Patton served in myriad staff assignments in various units, as well as instructor positions at various courses, and helped write and develop new Army doctrine especially for the employment of tanks.

Notably in 1932 Patton took part in the mobilization of the 3rd Army against the "Bonus Army" in Washington D.C. The "Bonus Army" was a group of 43,000 protesters (primarily made up of veterans of the First World War and their families) who had gathered in Washington DC to demand early payment of the bonuses awarded them by the government. (In 1924 Federal legislation awarded veterans a bonus certificate that was to be redeemed in 1945 for cash, but by 1932 the great depression had forced many of these veterans into desperate situations and they sought early payment of their bonuses as a way out of poverty). The "Bonus Army" set up a camp Douglas McArthur (then Chief of Staff of the Army) ordered Federal troops to clear the "Bonus Army" from their camp on the outskirts of D.C.. Patton personally led a contingent (comprising of cavalry, infantry, and tanks) of the 3rd Army as they charged the camp with fixed bayonets and tear gas.

The remainder of Patton's post-WWI time was spent in a few additional staff and command positions, eventually landing command of the 3rd cavalry prior to the outbreak of WWII. During this time he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and then full Colonel.

When WWII erupted in Europe the American Army began preparations for the eventuality of the US entering. Patton again worked to grow the still young armored force. He was promoted to Brigadier General and later Major General, taking command of divisions now. His units were involved in multiple large scale maneuvers, with him receiving notable press attention, even appearing on the cover of Life Magazine.

When the US entered the war Patton was assigned to help plan the Allied invasion of North Africa (Operation Torch). The operation would involve three separate task forces, East, Middle, and West. Patton would eventually command the Western task force, which landed in Morocco.


The beginning speech is a paraphrased and censored version of a series of speeches Patton gave to the US 3rd Army prior to the invasion of France in 1944 (several years after the film starts).

The Battle of Kasserine Pass took place in western Tunisia, where the Germans conducted an attack against the Allied forces pushing from West to East towards the coastal city of Tunis, where the majority of German and Italian supplies and reinforcements for Africa were transported across. Although the German attack was eventually repulsed, the battle saw several major failures in tactical decision making by many American commanders and exposed the sever lack of experience in US troops compared to their British and Free French allies. Initially the American II CORPS had to retreat until allied reinforcements arrived. While ostensibly on the winning side of the battle, the American casualties and losses in equipment far outweighed the Germans. Following the battle a number of American commanders were relieved of command and Dwight Eisenhower began building a better system of combined command amongst the Allied armies, to increase communication and interoperability. Patton was pulled from his command of the Western task force to replace the American II CORPS commander, who was relieved and sent back to the US after the battle of Kasserine Pass. (Lloyd Fredendall, the general at 22:26 in the film)

28:20 This scene is fictional, but the sentiment is factual. Patton did really believe in reincarnation and that he might have been previously in Napoleon’s army or a Roman Legionaire.

31:54 This is a gross oversimplification by the film. While certainly Field Marshall Anderson (the British overall commander of the battle) caries much blame, many American commanders underneath him were equally at fault. It’s not a case of a British commander making bad decisions and dooming his American subordinates.

34:04 This scene really bugs me. The film repeatedly makes fun of the British and attempts to show them as posh, out of touch, and incompetent. In reality there were no more incompetent British officers than there were American. In fact, the majority of the fighting and winning in the African theater of WWII was done by the British.
This dialogue is fictional and likely simply put in by the director in an attempt to show Patton as a bad-ass and to get laughs at a stereotypical posh British person, as the film continually likes to do. In reality, Coningham had only recently taken command of the British RAF forces in that part of Africa, and had done a remarkable job of restructuring the command, control, and maintenance of RAF forces which resulted in far better air support to ground forces than had been previously. So while there was an issue of poor performance of the Allied air forces in that part of Africa, Conhingham begun to resolve those issues around the same time Patton took over II CORPS. The Film Coningham’s accusation that Patton’s reports are wrong is totally fictional.

44:29 I’m sure many people are going to point this out, but there are 0 historically accurate tanks in this film. They're all tanks from the 60's.

47:00 timeframe This is a rare film in that it depicts air-burst artillery shells. Shells designed to detonate in the air above the enemy and spew shrapnel around the area to kill infantry. A nice authentic touch that most films don’t depict.

Battle of El Guettar: Despite the good depiction of the artillery, the film actually does a pretty poor job portraying the battle. The battle lasted about two weeks, not the brief encounter in the film. Present were many British troops in addition to Americans. The fighting was spread out over a area of many miles, not the small area depicted in the film. Fighting was conducted a much longer distance than depicted here in the film. Small arms engagements up to 800m, and tanks engaging past a kilometer. Of course fighting often got close, within 50m up to point blank, but most of the fighting was not that close. The film’s battle is almost like the battles kids have with toy soldiers: a big blob of infantry and tanks walks right up to another big blob of infantry and tanks and then shoots at eachother.
Additionally, the German attack was conducted with the intent to stop the Allies from preparing to continue their drive towards Tunis (a spoiling attack). Not because they were afraid of Patton.

58:30, previous scene with German officers, and following scene with Patton’s dinner party: Patton had absolutely nothing to do with the Allied decision to invade Sicily. In fact, the invasion was pushed for by the British, who eventually convinced the Americans. Then the heavy lifting of the planning for the operation was mainly done by Dwight Eisenhower, General Harold Alexander (British), Admiral Cunningham (British), Air Chief Marshal Tedder (British), and General Bernard Montgomery (British). Patton and a few other lower-level generals absolutely took part in the planning process, but at a smaller scale.

1:01:07 (Bathroom scene with Monty) Again, I don’t really know what the director’s beef with the British is. Obviously there is a lot of real, historical beef and one-up-manship between Patton and his British colleagues (especially Montgomery), but I feel the film takes a good amount of pleasure in making the British seem foppish and silly, and has American characters rolling their eyes or smiling smugly behind British backs. It is true that Montgomery was a bit eccentric and not very socially aware, but again I feel that point should be made that the British weren’t a joke, and they had been fighting and dying far longer than the Americans had.

1:05:02 This scene is pretty fictional. Patton was ordered to take Palermo, he didn’t just decide to do it because he felt he had nothing more important to do. Palermo held the strongest concentration of Axis troops in the Western part of the island and was therefore the primary location from which supplies and reinforcements for Messina were originating from on the island. It is true that Patton felt that the British were being given the “spotlight” assignment of fighting up the Eastern part of Sicily towards Messina, and that he wished he was doing that, but his operations in the Western part of the island were part of his orders, and he wasn’t playing cowboy and disobeying orders.

1:10:55 Again, it was expected that Patton was going to take Palermo, the overall commander of the operation, British General Alexander had ordered him to.

1:11:46 Once again, Alexander had in fact ordered Patton to take Palermo. This is pure fiction for filmic purposes. And Patton’s line “ask him if he wants me to give it back” is actually a response he gave to his superiors much later in the march to Germany when he took the city of Trier after it had been decided he should bypass it.

1:12:53 This is to some extent true. I wouldn’t say Patton’s forces faced “token” resistance, they certainly fought determined and well positioned Axis troops, but the British were indeed fighting the most and the best Axis forces on Sicily, not the Americans.

1:13:42 This is an interesting point to discuss. It is a fact that Montgomery was a far more cautious general than Patton. And for that matter in general all British commanders were more cautious than American commanders. But there is a reason for this, and it’s not that Americans are braver and more daring than the British. All armies across the world have different characters, and those characters derive from the nations they belong to. The British Army during the Second World War was spread thin, often far from its homeland (indeed always separated from the islands of Great Britain). It was a smaller army than the Germans, Soviets and Americans. Reinforcement and resupply took a long time and was contingent on avoiding Axis sea power. British commanders simply didn’t have as many troops or supplies to be as aggressive as the Germans, Soviets or Americans. If a British battalion was wiped out, they didn’t always have another battalion to replace it. Not so with the Soviets and Americans, they could always plug another battalion in there. If the British lost a tank, it took a lot longer to get a replacement than for the Americans or Soviets. Therefore the British, by necessity, have to be more cautious, because the impact of loosing a battle was far greater than it would be for the Americans or Soviets.
Montgomery in particular had been fighting the whole war in Africa, starting in the South and pushing North along the Eastern coast. In general he was almost always at a disadvantage to the Germans in terms of supplies and manpower. As described above he HAD to be more cautious and deliberate about his actions. So when it came to Siciliy, although his supply situation was far better, and he had more reinforcements at his disposal, he was still thinking in terms of conservation.
Finally, the British throughout the later stages of the war (once it became clear that the Allies were winning) began to be conservative for another reason: the post war period. Britain wanted to be a power player after the end of the Second World War. To hold the position of a world power they would need a military that was robust. If they lost the majority of their troops fighting WWII what would they have left with afterwards?

1:18:22 While this conversation probably never happened, I think it hits the nail right on the head, and is one of the reasons I’ve never looked up to Patton.

1:20:30 This incident did happen.

Slapping Scene: This is historical, and actually happened on two occasions (about a week apart) and this is a very accurately (down to Patton’s dialogue) portrayed version of the second incident.

1:30:50 This scene is clearly fictional

1:35:00 Patton gave a number of “apology” speeches to the various subordinate units under his command. He also apologized to the two soldiers he had slapped and the doctors present at he times. There was some talk of removing him from the theater due to the negate press he received, but the decision was made by the Secretary of War decided to keep him where he was due to his successful combat leadership.

1:38:59 SGT William Meeks was Patton’s personal aid and valet during the war.

1:40:10 Eisenhower later claimed he had actually decided to give Bradley overall command of American troops for the European invasion before Patton’s slapping incidents had become public. It was felt that Bradley was more thoughtful, level-headed, and much more able to work well with Allies than Patton, making him a much better choice for a higher-level command than Patton. However, Patton still believed that the slapping incidents kept him from taking the command.

1:47:01 Eisenhower used Patton’s skill and the German’s respect for him by sending Patton on trips throughout the Mediterranean to confuse the Germans on where the Allies were to plan invasions. Patton wasn’t given a real command for 11 months.

1:51:10 This is accurate

1:55:05 Patton actually said: “since it is the evident destiny of the British and Americans, and of course, the Russians, to rule the world, the better we know each other, the better job we will do it.” He was misquoted by the media who left out the last bit including the Russians.

2:17:20 and previous scene with Bradley: Patton’s 3rd army didn’t run out of fuel because of a binary situation between him and Montgomery, that is a gross oversimplification for the benefit of making the film simple to the audience. Eisenhower preferred a broad European front, having the whole front move forward at generally the same pace. He didn’t want Patton breaking through and pushing deep into enemy ground because he feared Patton’s forces might be cut off. The supply and fuel situation was a problem for Patton not because Eisenhower had to make a decision between fueling either Montgomery or Patton, but because fuel had to be supplied all across the front. Montgomery’s forces did have a higher priority for fuel because of Operation Market Garden, but the situation was far more nuanced than the film makes out.

2:24:45 In reality Eisenhower was actually at this meeting and told Patton he was being ridiculous. Even after Patton explained his staff had already prepared plans for a counter attack, Eisenhower ordered him to wait 72 hours before attacking instead of Patton’s 48.
Also, again I find the film’s use of the British generals being the gloomy naysayers against Patton to be annoying, the Americans at the conference were just as skeptical about Patton as the British.

2:32:49 Patton did indeed order the 3rd Army Chaplain to write a prayer for good weather. And awarded him a Bronze Star when the weather cleared. The prayer read in the film is the real one.

2:41:19 He wasn’t promised a command in the Pacific by Roosevelt. He did lobby hard for a reassignment to the Pacific but was unsuccessful.
He also made direct comparisons between Nazi officials being similar to American Democrats and Republicans in regards to them being trained to govern, he wasn’t edged into it by leading questions as the film suggests.

The Ox Cart Scene at the end is foreshadowing his actual death following a traffic accident in December 1945 in Germany when his jeep collided with an army truck. He suffered a broken neck and paralysis from the neck down. He died in his sleep 14 days later.

"Patton: A Biography" Alan Axelrod
"Patton, Montgomery, Rommel: Masters of War" Terry Brighton
"The Patton Papers: 1940-1945" Martin Blumenson

Alistair Pitts

Some background on Bernard Law Montgomery, from your resident entirely neutral and nonpartisan British researcher

  • Montgomery trained at Sandhurst (I’m sure most listeners will be aware that Sandhurst is pretty much the British equivalent of West Point)1
  • He was grievously wounded in the lung at the 1st Battle of Ypres in WWI. He was so close to death that a grave was dug for him.2
  • Quote from Montgomery on WWI generals, from 1958, “The frightful casualties appalled me. The so-called “good fighting generals” of the war appeared to me to be those who had a complete disregard for human life.”3
  • I don’t have a source for this, but I read somewhere while I was working at the Lascaris War Rooms in Malta that during his service in British-occupied India he learned enough of the local language that he could communicate with rank-and-file soldiers directly. If that’s true, that’s definitely worthy of some respect.
  • Commanded the 3rd Division of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France in 1940. Predicted a disaster and consequently trained his troops to make an orderly retreat.4
  • Most famous for leading British forces to victory at the 2nd Battle of El Alamein, 1942
  • One of the parallels between Monty and Patton is their ability to inspire their troops through their own apparently unshakeable confidence. Before El Alamein, this was Montgomery’s message to his troops, “I want to impose on everyone that the bad times are over, they are finished! Our mandate from the Prime Minister is to destroy the Axis forces in North Africa... It can be done, and it will be done!”.5
  • His 1958 Memoir was massively controversial due to Montgomery’s utter tactlessness. He was particularly rude about Dwight Eisenhower.6
  • Died in 1976. Buried in Westminster Abbey.
  • Dwight Eisenhower identified Montgomery as possessing, “a flair for showmanship”.7 Another trait in common with Patton. Like Patton, a key part of this was how he dressed. His trademark black tank commander’s beret with two badges was not exactly regulation. Supposedly, this sartorial choice of Montgomery’s really bothered King George VI, who was a bit of a stickler for that kind of thing.8 Long live the Republic, etc.
  • Some of his personal views don’t exactly create a favourable impression. E.g. He publicly supported the Apartheid regime in South Africa and and called the UK legislation decriminalising homosexuality in 1967, “a charter for buggery”.9 Not cool, Monty. Not cool.

1 Bernard Law Montgomery: Unbeatable and unbearable - (UK) National Army Museum website article
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid. One wonders what effect this preparation would have had on rank & file morale… Incidentally, podcaster & author Mike Duncan describes, somewhat snarkily, George Washington’s talent for mounting a flawless retreat as his greatest asset as a military commander.
5 Ibid.
6 Episode of the BBC Radio Four programme Great Lives on Bernard Montgomery broadcast in October 2013, presented by Matthew Parris, with guests comedian Al Murray and Imperial War Museum historian Terry Charman.

7 Bernard Law Montgomery: Unbeatable and unbearable - (UK) National Army Museum website article. Speaking of Ike, he painted Monty in 1952. The painting is now in the British Embassy in Washington.
8 Great Lives Bernard Montgomery episode.
9 Bernard Law Montgomery: Unbeatable and unbearable - (UK) National Army Museum website article

Bernard Montgomery himself on the long-running (it's still around today) BBC Radio programme Desert Island Discs, episode broadcast on Saturday, 20th December 1969
Brief History Of The Battle Of El Alamein WW2 - Imperial War Museum website article
How The British Secured A Victory In The Desert During The Second World War - Imperial War Museum website article
Why D-Day Was So Important to Allied Victory - Imperial War Museum website article
How The Battle Of Anzio Invasion Almost Failed - Imperial War Museum website article
Bernard Law Montgomery: Unbeatable and unbearable - (UK) National Army Museum website article
Bernard, Viscount Montgomery of Alamein - Westminster Abbey website article