In practice, the nickname or epithet ‘Monty’ was not used when addressing Bernard Law Montgomery, except possibly by the few other soldiers senior to him in rank, and even then, with caution. He was born in 1887, and became a middle-sized, clip-toned, fiery exponent of the philosophy that insists that anything will be achieved by will-power. Montgomery rose so fast after leaving Sandhurst that he was appointed Lt. General, commander of the British Eighth Army in North Africa in August, 1942. He was a greyhound-like fifty-five.
Montgomery found his troops fed up, dispirited, low in morale. He adopted slightly unmilitary dress, favouring light fawn trousers of decidedly military cut, with a grey pullover peeping below a standard battle dress jacket. On his head he wore a distinctly peculiar beret, more like a Basque farmer’s headgear than a British general’s. On it he wore not one cap badge but two or perhaps three. The men loved it. He used to give them what he called ‘pep-talks’ which enthused them. (more…)