MED & N.Africa 1940-1945: Monty

The key question: What kind of man was Field Marshal Montgomery?

Extract from film "Forging ahead in Sicily", British newsreel on the invasion of Sicily 1943

Catalogue ref: BP060743108903
Courtesy of ITN/Source

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What is this source?

This is an extract from a British newsreel broadcast in 1943.

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Official camera operators would have shot this footage. It would then have been brought back to England to be edited and to have a commentary added.


What's the background to this source?

After defeating the German and Italian forces in North Africa in 1943, the Allies launched a new attack on their enemies. Combined land, sea and air forces attacked Sicily in July 1943 and the island fell in August 1943. The British 8th Army under Montgomery landed in Italy in September 1943. Soon afterwards US forces landed at Salerno. The Italian government surrendered on September 8th but German forces continued to hold Italy and resist the Allies. There would be continued hard fighting through Italy until April 1945.

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The terrain of Italy was especially well suited to defending, and the German forces were well led by Field Marshal Kesslering.


It's worth knowing that...

Montgomery commanded the British 8th Army in the invasion of Sicily and then Italy in the summer of 1943. For most of the campaign in North Africa he had been the leading figure in the British war effort. However, in the invasion of Sicily and Italy he had to work with the US generals Patton and Bradley. The relationship was very difficult.

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Montgomery was called away from the Italian campaign in December 1943. In his view the Allied forces were badly co-ordinated and the planning was not thorough enough. He said he was glad to leave the 'dog's breakfast' of a campaign.


Does this source help us decide if Montgomery is the right man to command the land forces in France?

  1. How does the newsreel describe Montgomery?
  2. What impression do you get from the clip of the relationship between Montgomery and his troops?
  3. What impression do you get of the way the Allied forces worked together?
  4. Montgomery was actually very unhappy with the way this campaign was run. Does this cast doubt on the reliability of the newsreel?
  5. Does this source help you to answer any of the questions you have to tackle in your report?

Use this table to write your report.