Commanding 21st Army Group and communicating frequently with the CIGS [FM Alan Brooke] and thereby the government, does not mark him as a mere order taker. He was the most experienced commander in the most experienced army of the Western Allies at that time. He planned the Normandy landing as ground commander and remained in charge ashore of the invasion until 1st Army Group was activated.
Commissioned in 1908, he served with distinction in combat during World War I, emerging as a captain. In the postwar army, he served throughout the empire and gained a reputation as a tough minded officer. His first service as a general was in Palestine in 1938. He commanded the 3rd Infantry Division in France in 1939-40, and after the Dunkirk evacuation, he took command of the Southeastern Command as Britain prepared to defend against German invasion. On 13 August 1942, “Monty” was appointed commander of the 8th Army in Egypt then facing the Axis armies at El Alamein. In his first and greatest military victory, the Second Battle of Alamein, he demonstrated the penchant for detailed planning and patient accumulation of superior forces that would distinguish his command style. Montgomery was one of the few British Army officers who realized the perpetual weakness of its officer corps in terms of intellectual acuity, self-discipline, and thorough attention to detail and supervision. As a result, he rode his officers particularly hard, tolerated few excuses and frequently relieved them of command when they failed to deliver expected results. Although rather taciturn in personality, he adopted an outgoing persona with the troops and imbued them with a sense of winning and necessary sacrifice that proved a remarkable turnabout from the grim days of 1940-41. Under his leadership, the British Army grew in stature and became a seasoned and capable force in World War II, despite crippling manpower problems.
Montgomery finished the war already a knight (1942) and a field marshal (1944), to which he added many postwar honors, including his peerage of 1946 as Viscount Montgomery of Alamein (and Hindhead). He continued his distinguished military career in command of the British Army of the Rhine (1946), as Chief of the Imperial General Staff (1946-48), chaired the short lived military alliance of Britain, France and the Benelux nations (1948) and served as deputy Supreme Commander, Allied Powers Europe (1951-58) until retirement. He wrote several books, but tarnished them and himself by his excessive, but not entirely undue, self-promotion and acerbic critiques of most other allied generals.