In defence of Monty: James Holland on the Allied commander’s D-Day decisions

For 50 years, historians have lined up to attack the architect of D-Day. 
But, writes James Holland, their criticisms are misguided

Holding court: Bernard Montgomery briefs reporters on progress in France, 1944. (Photo by Cynthia Johnson/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

On Friday 30 June 1944, American general Omar Bradley visited Bernard Montgomery’s Tactical HQ, near the village of Blay, a few miles west of Bayeux. He found the architect of the Allied assault on Normandy in a particularly spikey mood. “I say,” he remarked to Bradley, looking at Chet Hansen, who had been recently promoted, “now do you have a major for an ADC [aide-de-camp]? Simply a dog’s body, you know, a whipping boy. I would not have an ADC who is more than a captain.”

What on earth compelled him to say such a thing? It was insulting to Bradley (commander of the US First Army), insulting to Hansen, whom Monty had seen many times before, and spectacularly rude and unnecessary.

“Messenger boys, simply messenger boys,” added Montgomery. He then launched into a withering critique of the superbly designed American M1 steel helmet.

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