The time has come to deal the enemy a terrific blow in Western Europe.
The blow will be struck by the combined sea, land and air forces of the Allies together constituting one great Allied team, under the supreme command of General Eisenhower.
On the eve of this great adventure I send my best wishes to every soldier in the Allied team.
To us is given the honour of striking a blow for freedom which will live in history; and in the better days that lie ahead men will speak with pride of our doings. We have a great and a righteous cause.
Let us pray that " The Lord Mighty in Battle " will go forth with our armies, and that His special providence will aid us in the struggle.
I want every soldier to know that I have complete confidence in the successful outcome of the operations that we are now about to begin.
With stout hearts, and with enthusiasm for the contest, let us go forward to victory.
And, as we enter the battle, let us recall the words of a famous soldier spoken many years ago :
"He either fears his fate too much,
Or his deserts are small,
Who dare not put it to the touch,
To win or lose it all. "
Good luck to each one of you. And good hunting on the main land of Europe.
Personal message to troops of 21st Army Group on the eve of D-Day
Rule 1, on page 1 of the book of war, is: "Do not march on Moscow". Various people have tried it, Napoleon and Hitler, and it is no good. That is the first rule. I do not know whether your Lordships will know Rule 2 of war. It is: "Do not go fighting with your land armies in China". It is a vast country, with no clearly defined objectives.
The United States has broken the second rule of war. That is: don't go fighting with your land army on the mainland in Asia. Rule One is, don't march on Moscow. I developed those two rules myself.
Interview, 2 July, 1968; quoted in New York Times, 3 July, 1968, p. 6.
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. There were of course exceptions and I suppose one was Plumer; I had only once seen him and I had never spoken to him.
There were many reasons why we did not gain complete success at Arnhem. The following in my view were the main ones. First. The operation was not regarded at Supreme Headquarters as the spearhead of a major Allied movement on the northern flank designed to isolate, and finally to occupy, the Ruhr - the one objective in the West which the Germans could not afford to lose. There is no doubt in my mind that Eisenhower always wanted to give priority to the northern thrust and to scale down the southern one. He ordered this to be done, and he thought that it was being done. It was not being done. Second. The airborne forces at Arnhem were dropped too far away from the vital objective - the bridge. It was some hours before they reached it. I take the blame for this mistake. I should have ordered Second Army and 1st Airborne Corps to arrange that at least one complete Parachute Brigade was dropped quite close to the bridge, so that it could have been captured in a matter of minutes and its defence soundly organised with time to spare. I did not do so. Third. The weather. This turned against us after the first day and we could not carry out much of the later airborne programme. But weather is always an uncertain factor, in war and in peace. This uncertainty we all accepted. It could only have been offset, and the operation made a certainty, by allotting additional resources to the project, so that it became an Allied and not merely a British project. Fourth. The 2nd S.S. Panzer Corps was refitting in the Arnhem area, having limped up there after its mauling in Normandy. We knew it was there. But we were wrong in supposing that it could not fight effectively; its battle state was far beyond our expectation. It was quickly brought into action against the 1st Airborne Division.
Concerning Operation Market Garden in his autobiography, 'The Memoirs of Field Marshal Montgomery' (1958)
The British soldier is second to none in the communities of fighting men. Some may possess more élan, others may be better disciplined; but none excels him in all-round character. We require no training in bravery in Britain; we can trust to our own native manliness to see us through. So it is with the soldier. It is his natural pride which gives him his fighting qualities. How often he has stood firm before tyranny and oppression, the last hope of the free world! In the midst of the noise and confusion of the battlefield, the simple homely figure of the British soldier stands out calm and resolute—dominating all around him with his quiet courage, his humour and his cheerfulness, his unflinching acceptance of the situation. May the ideals for which he has struggled never vanish from the world! May he never be forgotten by the nation for which he has fought so nobly! I know better than most to what heights the British soldier can aspire. His greatness is a measure of the greatness of the British character, and I have seen the quality of our race proved again and again on the battlefield.
Memoirs (London: Collins, 1958), pp. 543-544.
The British soldier is second to none in the communities of fighting men. Some may possess more élan, others may be better disciplined; but none excels him in all-round character.
Leadership is the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence.
As quoted in Hearts Touched With Fire: My 500 Favorite Inspirational Quotations (2004) by Elizabeth Hanford Dole, p. 143
One always had the curious feeling of being taught by a great master. In this connection it is interesting to note that he was privately and affectionately known by those who worked for him at TAC HQ as 'Master'.
Lieutenant-Colonel C P Dawney, Military Assistant to Montgomery
I had the greatest admiration for his precision of statement and lucidity as a lecturer and also for what I, as an airman, considered his ability and breadth of view as a soldier. But he appeared to me to be regarded with grave suspicion for holding what I understood were heretical, though they seemed to me very reasonable, views about the conduct of future war. As a stranger in a strange land I kept my own counsel, but I left the course with a very definite impression that in Monty we certainly had a soldier who knew his onions, no matter what the "high-ups" in the army might officially think of the smell.
Arthur "Bomber" Harris in his memoirs, Bomber Offensive (1947)
I knew him well by reputation. He was probably the most discussed general in the British Army before the war, and-except with those who had served under him - not a popular figure. Regular armies in all countries tend to produce a standard type of officer, but Monty, somehow or other, didn't fit into the British pattern. His methods of training and command were unorthodox, always a deadly crime in military circles. He was known to be ruthlessly efficient, but somewhat of a showman. I had been told sympathetically that I wouldn't last long under his command, and, to be honest, I would rather have served under any other divisional commander.
Brian Horrocks, commander of a machine-gun battalion and later commander of XXX Corps, in his autobiography A Full Life (1960)
Monty was not such a dashing, romantic figure as his opponent; nor would you find him leading a forlorn hope in person, for the simple reason that if he was in command forlorn hopes did not occur. He had an extraordinary capacity for putting his finger straight on the essentials of any problem, and of being able to explain them simply and clearly. He planned all his battles most carefully - and then put them out of his mind every night. I believe he was awakened in the night only half a dozen times during the whole war.
Brian Horrocks, commander of a machine-gun battalion and later commander of XXX Corps, in his autobiography A Full Life (1960), comparing Montgomery to Rommel.
General Montgomery is a very able, dynamic type of army commander. I personally think that the only thing he needs is a strong immediate commander. He loves the limelight but in seeking it, it is possible that he does so only because of the effect upon his own soldiers, who are certainly devoted to him. I have great confidence in him as a combat commander. He is intelligent, a good talker, and has a flair for showmanship. Like all other senior British officers, he has been most loyal - personally and officially - and has shown no disposition whatsoever to overstep the bounds imposed by allied unity of command.
Much has been written about the remarkable effect Montgomery had on the troops, his appearance in peculiar hats, and so on. This was superficial. We judged him on results and his manner of achievement. Many of the troops never saw him: our first encounter was months later at Tripoli. Yet the signs of a new grip on affairs was palpable, as Churchill noticed. There was the first of those special messages to the troops. These were printed on sheets, some 11 inches by 8 inches, and were widely circulated. The first gave the gist of the famous address to the staff. We were going to fight where we stood. There would be no withdrawal, no surrender. We had to do our duty so long as we had breath in our bodies.
Denis Falvey, A Well-Known Excellence (2002)
I thought he (Montgomery) was very cautious, considering his immensely superior strength, but he is the only Field-Marshal in this war who won all his battles. In modern mobile warfare the tactics are not the main thing. The decisive factor is the organization of one's resources to maintain the momentum.
Wilhelm von Thoma who fought against Montgomery in North Africa. After the war he was interviewed by Basil Liddell Hart for his book The Other Side of the Hill (1948)
Montgomery is a first-class trainer and leader of troops on the battlefield, with a fine tactical sense. He knows how to win the loyalty of his men and has a great flair for raising morale. He rightly boasted that, after the battle of Alamein, he never suffered a defeat; and the truth is that he never intended to run the risk of a defeat; that is one reason why he was cautious and reluctant to take chances. There is, however, much to be said for his attitude when we consider that, up to October 1942, we had not won a single major battle since the start of the war - except Archie Wavell's operations against the Italians and some local victories against the Axis forces in the Western Desert. Yet I can't disguise that he was not an easy man to deal with; for example, administrative orders issued by my staff were sometimes objected to - in other words Monty wanted to have complete independence of command and to do what he liked. Still, no serious difficulties arose over these very minor disturbances, he was always reasonable when tackled.
General Harold Alexander in Memoirs: 1940-1945
In defeat, unbeatable; in victory, unbearable.
Winston Churchill, quoted in Ambrosia and Small Beer (1964) by Edward Marsh