Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, universally known as Monty, was created a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath and his stall plate can be seen on the north side of Henry VII's chapel in Westminster Abbey. He died on 24th March 1976 and his funeral was held at St George's chapel Windsor Castle and he is buried at Binstead in Hampshire near his home.
He was a great supporter of the Abbey Choir and presented the Senior Chorister badge and helped to wrest the Choir School building out of War Office hands after the Second World War. Christmas parties there were often hosted by him.
He was born on 17th November 1887 at his father's vicarage in London, one of nine children. His father was the Reverend Henry Montgomery who married Maud, daughter of Frederic William Farrar (Canon of Westminster and Rector of St Margaret's Westminster) in Henry VII's chapel in 1881. Early years were spent in Tasmania where his father was Bishop and on returning to England he and brother Donald were educated at St Paul's school Hammersmith (which later was Monty's HQ in the run up to the D-Day landings). After attending Sandhurst military academy he served in India, in the Great War, Ireland and Palestine and became an instructor at Camberley Staff College.
He married widow Betty Carver and they had a son David. She died tragically in 1937 after an insect bite became infected. As General of the 3rd Division of the British Army he helped save the British Expeditionary Force in the retreat to Dunkirk during the Second World War and became commander of the Eighth Army in Egypt. It was here that he completely turned around the fortunes of the Allies fighting in the desert against Rommel's Afrika Corps, inspiring his men and giving rousing speeches.
Winston Churchill ordered the bells in England to be rung in honour of the victory at El Alamein in North Africa, a turning point in the war. The Abbey bells were rung on Sunday 15th November 1942 and large numbers of people attended the services (this was the first time bells had been rung in the country since the start of the war as prior to this bells would have signalled an invasion). Commemorations of the battle have been held in the Abbey in 1992, 2002 and 2012.
In 1944 he was made a Field Marshal and was Commander in Chief of land forces planning, under General Eisenhower, for the historic Normandy landings on 6th June 1944 which would eventually free Europe and end the war there in May 1945.
B.L. Montgomery "The memoirs of Field Marshal the Viscount Montgomery of Alamein", 1958
N. Hamilton "Monty", 3 vols, 1981-86.
A statue of Monty stands in Whitehall in London.
Order of Service from Evensong marking 70th Anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein - 27th October 2012
This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library
Image © 2023 Dean and Chapter of Westminster