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Bishopscourt Stories


Bishopscourt Characters and Stories

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Bishopscourt Stories


Bishopscourt Characters and Stories

The story of the Bishopscourt is one of many people, places and moments spanning three centuries.

Find out about some of the people who have been associated with this place, walk where their stories unfolded, and learn about some of the people who shaped modern day Tasmania and the world around it, including the accidental leader of the Turning Point of WW2 in 1942, the D-Day invasion in 1944 and the surrender of the Germany Army in 1945.

Click on the images to learn more.

  THOMAS HORNE, THE COLOURFUL BANKRUPT ATTORNEY GENERAL   Within a year of being admitted to the Supreme Court in February 1830, Thomas Horne became involved in lively politics. He was a Judge, Attorney General, first member for Hobart in the Legislative Council and later President.  His finances were precarious: at one point he admitted to losing £20,000 in trading with New Zealand and was forced to sell properties. He was appointed Attorney General in 1844 to help avoid insolvency! He was the first occupant and builder of what would become Bishopscourt.

THOMAS HORNE, THE COLOURFUL BANKRUPT ATTORNEY GENERAL

Within a year of being admitted to the Supreme Court in February 1830, Thomas Horne became involved in lively politics. He was a Judge, Attorney General, first member for Hobart in the Legislative Council and later President.

His finances were precarious: at one point he admitted to losing £20,000 in trading with New Zealand and was forced to sell properties. He was appointed Attorney General in 1844 to help avoid insolvency! He was the first occupant and builder of what would become Bishopscourt.

 MONTY OF EL ALAMEIN, WW2 HERO  One of the most interesting families to live at Bishopscourt was the  Montgomery family . The house changed considerably during a major building phase in 1889 in preparation for the arrival of a new bishop, Bishop Montgomery, and his family at the height of the British Empire.  One of the children, Bernard Montgomery, 1st. Viscount Montgomery of Alamein (Monty), became a noted British Commander and WW2 hero, but his childhood in Tasmania is not so well known.

MONTY OF EL ALAMEIN, WW2 HERO

One of the most interesting families to live at Bishopscourt was the Montgomery family. The house changed considerably during a major building phase in 1889 in preparation for the arrival of a new bishop, Bishop Montgomery, and his family at the height of the British Empire.

One of the children, Bernard Montgomery, 1st. Viscount Montgomery of Alamein (Monty), became a noted British Commander and WW2 hero, but his childhood in Tasmania is not so well known.

  MAUD MONTGOMERY, A VERY INDEPENDENT WOMAN   Maud, wife of Bishop Montgomery from the age of 16 and mother of 8, was the third daughter of the eminent English clergyman, preacher and author, Frederic William Farrar. She maintained resolutely a wide range of domestic, diocesan and philanthropic responsibilities. She was said to have inherited her father's concern for moral righteousness and an ability in public speaking, as shown in her dealings with equally strong-minded Lady Hamilton at Government House.

MAUD MONTGOMERY, A VERY INDEPENDENT WOMAN

Maud, wife of Bishop Montgomery from the age of 16 and mother of 8, was the third daughter of the eminent English clergyman, preacher and author, Frederic William Farrar. She maintained resolutely a wide range of domestic, diocesan and philanthropic responsibilities. She was said to have inherited her father's concern for moral righteousness and an ability in public speaking, as shown in her dealings with equally strong-minded Lady Hamilton at Government House.

  Lady Teresa Hamilton, the Outspoken Governor's Wife   Teresa Hamilton arrived in Tasmania in March 1887, when her husband, Sir Robert Hamilton, became Governor. She undertook the social activities expected of the governor's wife with panache but, being a forceful lady, she was imbued with new ideas of the activities suitable for women, such as were becoming popular in Britain.   When Maud Montgomery arrived in 1889 as wife of the Bishop of Tasmania, their paths started to cross and ultimately the two strong-minded women end up not seeing eye to eye.

Lady Teresa Hamilton, the Outspoken Governor's Wife

Teresa Hamilton arrived in Tasmania in March 1887, when her husband, Sir Robert Hamilton, became Governor. She undertook the social activities expected of the governor's wife with panache but, being a forceful lady, she was imbued with new ideas of the activities suitable for women, such as were becoming popular in Britain. 

When Maud Montgomery arrived in 1889 as wife of the Bishop of Tasmania, their paths started to cross and ultimately the two strong-minded women end up not seeing eye to eye.

  BISHOP BROMBY, THE BUILDER   In 1869, the Church rented 26 Fitzroy Place and then named it Bishopscourt. After much debate, the Church bought the house in 1876: “every Australian Diocese, I believe, has erected a suitable residence for the Bishop except Tasmania…An opportunity now offers itself for the purchase of the House which I now occupy, standing upon nearly three acres of ground”. Bromby offered £200 of his salary to help fund the purchase.

BISHOP BROMBY, THE BUILDER

In 1869, the Church rented 26 Fitzroy Place and then named it Bishopscourt. After much debate, the Church bought the house in 1876: “every Australian Diocese, I believe, has erected a suitable residence for the Bishop except Tasmania…An opportunity now offers itself for the purchase of the House which I now occupy, standing upon nearly three acres of ground”. Bromby offered £200 of his salary to help fund the purchase.

  Montgomery Family Life at Bishopscourt - Late 19th Century Ways   The children had lessons in the morning with games or exercise of some kind in the afternoon. Later in life, especially in Ireland, she added another very strict rule. Everybody had to be out of the house between two and four o'clock in the afternoon, so that she could rest undisturbed by noise or interruption of any kind.

Montgomery Family Life at Bishopscourt - Late 19th Century Ways

The children had lessons in the morning with games or exercise of some kind in the afternoon. Later in life, especially in Ireland, she added another very strict rule. Everybody had to be out of the house between two and four o'clock in the afternoon, so that she could rest undisturbed by noise or interruption of any kind.

 BISHOP MONTGOMERY, THE MISSIONARY  The Rt Rev. Henry Hutchinson Montgomery, KCMG was an Anglican bishop, a missionary and author in the last part of the 19th century and the very start of the 20th. His family fell 'under the spell of the charm and simplicity of colonial life', and was 'ideally happy' in Tasmania. Montgomery's infectious enthusiasm and organisational skills resulted in unparalleled expansion of the church.  Born in India, Henry was educated at Harrow School and Trinity College, Cambridge. Writing on 16 March 1944, G. M. Trevelyan observed that Montgomery was one of the few people ever to have jumped up the college steps in one bound.  Montgomery became engaged to the Archdeacon of Westminster's daughter Maud when she was 14 and they married two years later: one of their five sons was  Field Marshal The 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, Monty.

BISHOP MONTGOMERY, THE MISSIONARY

The Rt Rev. Henry Hutchinson Montgomery, KCMG was an Anglican bishop, a missionary and author in the last part of the 19th century and the very start of the 20th. His family fell 'under the spell of the charm and simplicity of colonial life', and was 'ideally happy' in Tasmania. Montgomery's infectious enthusiasm and organisational skills resulted in unparalleled expansion of the church.

Born in India, Henry was educated at Harrow School and Trinity College, Cambridge. Writing on 16 March 1944, G. M. Trevelyan observed that Montgomery was one of the few people ever to have jumped up the college steps in one bound.

Montgomery became engaged to the Archdeacon of Westminster's daughter Maud when she was 14 and they married two years later: one of their five sons was Field Marshal The 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, Monty.

  A TURNING POINT IN HISTORY   The Second Battle of El Alamein began on 23 October 1942, and ended 12 days later with one of the first large-scale, decisive Allied land victories of the war. It was a decisive turning point in history, led by Monty who had grown up in Tasmania at Bishopscourt.  Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister at the time, said of this victory:   "Now this is not the end; it is not even the beginning of the end."

A TURNING POINT IN HISTORY

The Second Battle of El Alamein began on 23 October 1942, and ended 12 days later with one of the first large-scale, decisive Allied land victories of the war. It was a decisive turning point in history, led by Monty who had grown up in Tasmania at Bishopscourt.

Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister at the time, said of this victory: 
"Now this is not the end; it is not even the beginning of the end."

  Showdown at Government House   After the grand Naval Ball, the January 1890 meeting of the Nil Desperandum Society was sparsely attended. Lady Hamilton was not amused. The following month a full-scale argument erupted with Maud Montgomery trying to act as peacemaker. This culminated in a showdown and mass resignations in February 1891. Read about ' Showdown at Government House '

Showdown at Government House

After the grand Naval Ball, the January 1890 meeting of the Nil Desperandum Society was sparsely attended. Lady Hamilton was not amused. The following month a full-scale argument erupted with Maud Montgomery trying to act as peacemaker. This culminated in a showdown and mass resignations in February 1891. Read about 'Showdown at Government House'

  JOHN BEATTIE, AUSTRALIA'S FINEST LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHER   Bishop Montgomery and John Beattie, Australia’s finest landscape photographer of his time, were close friends. He joined Bishop  Henry Montgomery  and Professor  William Brown  in establishing the historical and geographical section of the Royal Society of Tasmania in 1899.

JOHN BEATTIE, AUSTRALIA'S FINEST LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHER

Bishop Montgomery and John Beattie, Australia’s finest landscape photographer of his time, were close friends. He joined Bishop Henry Montgomery and Professor William Brown in establishing the historical and geographical section of the Royal Society of Tasmania in 1899.

 AUSTRALIA'S PIVOTAL ROLE IN THE CHURCHILL'S 'END OF THE BEGINNING' REMAINS UNDERRATED AT HOME  El Alamein became the most important battle in which Australians participated during the war. This was for two reasons: the battle was a transformative event that changed world history, and the role played by the 9th Division was crucial to the British victory, a point made by British commanders at the time. When the battle ended, Montgomery, who grew up in Tasmania and led the battle, went immediately to the Australian lines to thank the commander of the 9th Division, Lieutenant General Leslie Morshead.  The conundrum, however, is that El Alamein has become the forgotten battle in Australian memory. It has a contradictory identity: it is the most important battle we fought in that war, yet is the least remembered.

AUSTRALIA'S PIVOTAL ROLE IN THE CHURCHILL'S 'END OF THE BEGINNING' REMAINS UNDERRATED AT HOME

El Alamein became the most important battle in which Australians participated during the war. This was for two reasons: the battle was a transformative event that changed world history, and the role played by the 9th Division was crucial to the British victory, a point made by British commanders at the time. When the battle ended, Montgomery, who grew up in Tasmania and led the battle, went immediately to the Australian lines to thank the commander of the 9th Division, Lieutenant General Leslie Morshead.

The conundrum, however, is that El Alamein has become the forgotten battle in Australian memory. It has a contradictory identity: it is the most important battle we fought in that war, yet is the least remembered.

 THE PROMINENT ARCHITECT AND THE DODGY CATHEDRAL THAT HAD TO BE...ERR... REBUILT  Henry Hunter was a prominent architect and civil servant in Tasmania and Queensland, Australia. He is best known for his work on churches, 24 in Tasmania. One had to be rebuilt after ten years due to dodgy foundations. In 1877, he designed major changes to Bishopscourt.

THE PROMINENT ARCHITECT AND THE DODGY CATHEDRAL
THAT HAD TO BE...ERR... REBUILT

Henry Hunter was a prominent architect and civil servant in Tasmania and Queensland, Australia. He is best known for his work on churches, 24 in Tasmania. One had to be rebuilt after ten years due to dodgy foundations. In 1877, he designed major changes to Bishopscourt.

Thomas Horne, the Colourful Bankrupt Lawyer


Thomas Horne, the Colourful Bankrupt Lawyer


THOMAS HORNE, THE COLOURFUL BANKRUPT ATTORNEY GENERAL

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Thomas Horne (1800-1870)

In 1836, Thomas Horne buys land at 26 Fitzroy Place and builds a house. Born in London in 1800, educated at Westminster School and Christchurch Oxford and called to the bar in 1827, he arrived in Hobart Town with his wife and two daughters in January 1830. Within a year of being admitted to the Supreme Court in February 1830, he became involved in lively politics. He was a Judge, Attorney General, first member for Hobart in the Legislative Council and later President.

His finances were precarious: at one point he admitted to losing £20,000 in trading with New Zealand and was forced to sell properties. Despite this recklessness, he was appointed Solicitor General in 1841 with a salary of £900. In December 1843 he offered his resignation to Lieutenant-Governor Sir Eardley Wilmot in order to claim the benefit of the Insolvent Act. The lieutenant-governor refused to accept his resignation and offered him every possible assistance, including appointing him for a time acted as Attorney General in 1844.

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On 12th May 1838 and again on 10th August 1838, the Hobart Town Courier advertised Bishopscourt for sale by auction currently occupied by Thomas Horne and described as being substantial “with a view to carrying it two storeys higher”. The advertisements continued in 1840, 1850, 1856, 1857 through to 1858 when it was finally sold to pay creditors.

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The Complicated Life of Thomas Horne

With a salary of £900 and the right to private practice, Horne's prospects seemed more settled but, when he replaced Algernon Montagu as puisne judge in January 1848, much criticism was levelled at his financial embarrassment. The appointment was challenged in the press and the Supreme Court, but upheld by the chief justice, Sir John Pedder. Lieutenant-Governor Sir William Denison ignored the criticism of his puisne judge but in 1854 when Pedder retired Denison recommended the solicitor-general, Valentine Fleming, as chief justice, arguing that Horne's independence of judgment was threatened by his precarious finances. Despite Horne's protests and a petition with more than 2500 signatures, Fleming's appointment was confirmed by the Colonial Office.

With the advent of responsible government, Horne was elected to the Legislative Council as member for Hobart, and a special Act was passed in January 1857 to enable him as a judge to be also president of the council without salary. In September 1860 he was attacked in the council byWilliam Archer over the judgment of the acting chief justice, Robert Molesworth in the case ofHorne v. Gilles in the Supreme Court of Victoria. The judge found that Horne and his cousin Francis Sharpe Horne had exerted undue influence on the latter's father in the execution of his will. At the same time Joseph Solomon alleged that, while a plaintiff in a suit to be heard before Horne, he had been approached by Horne for a loan of £500 which he had refused. To prevent his amoval, Horne resigned and an Act was hurriedly passed to grant him a full pension of £800 though he had been a judge for only thirteen of the fifteen statutory years.

This unusual action caused some indignation but did not prevent Horne from topping the poll for Hobart in the House of Assembly elections in May 1861. In July an appeal by F. S. Horne against the judgment in Horne v. Gilles was upheld and with his cousin he was cleared of any fault but imprudence. Horne served in the assembly until 1866. Aged 70 he died at his home in Collins Street on 23 September 1870 and was buried at St David's burial ground. He left no real property; his large house in Fitzroy Place had been sold in 1857 and other investments had gone to pay creditors. Even his detractors acknowledged his 'benevolence and kindness of character' and although not brilliant as lawyer or judge he was competent and painstaking in his profession.

 

Bishop Bromby, the Builder


Bishop Bromby, the Builder


BISHOP BROMBY, THE BUILDER

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Bishop Charles Bromby (1814-1907)

Bishop Charles Bromby, the Second Anglican Bishop of Tasmania, arrived on 7th January 1865 from Plymouth. He was the second son of Vicar John Bromley of Kingston-Upon-Hull and former Headmaster of Stepney Grammar School, joint founder of Cheltenham College and of the Cheltenham Ladies' College.

In 1869, the Church rented 26 Fitzroy Place and then named it Bishopscourt. After much debate, the Church bought the house in 1876: “every Australian Diocese, I believe, has erected a suitable residence for the Bishop except Tasmania…An opportunity now offers itself for the purchase of the House which I now occupy, standing upon nearly three acres of ground”. Bromby offered £200 of his salary to help fund the purchase.

Further background on Bishop Bromby

 

Bishop Montgomery, the Missionary


Bishop Montgomery, the Missionary


BISHOP MONTGOMERY, THE MISSIONARY

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Bishop Montgomery (1847-1932)

The Rt Rev. Henry Hutchinson Montgomery, KCMG (3 October 1847, Cawnpore – 25 November 1932, Moville), was an Anglican bishop, a missionary and author in the last part of the 19th century and the very start of the 20th. Arriving in 1889 at the height of the British Empire, his family fell 'under the spell of the charm and simplicity of colonial life', and was 'ideally happy' in Tasmania. Montgomery's infectious enthusiasm and organisational skills resulted in unparalleled expansion of the church.

He was born in 1847 at Cawnpore, India, the second son of the colonial administrator Robert Montgomery, Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab. The Montgomerys were an Ulster-Scots gentry family from Inishowen in the north of County Donegal in Ulster. Henry was educated at Harrow School and Trinity College, Cambridge. Writing on 16 March 1944, G. M. Trevelyan observed that Montgomery was one of the few people ever to have jumped up the college steps in one bound.

Ordained a deacon in 1871 and made a priest in 1872, Montgomery took curacies at Hurstpierpoint and St. Margaret's, Westminster. The Archdeacon at Westminster was Frederic William Farrar. Montgomery became engaged to Farrar's daughter Maud when she was 14 and they married two years later: one of their five sons was Field Marshal The 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, Monty.

In 1879 he was appointed Vicar of St Mark's Kennington. From here he was appointed to be Lord Bishop of Tasmania in 1889, where he nearly doubled the number of churches in the diocese.

Montgomery believed that the Church had to witness to a high moral standard in a particularly corrupt society. He thus opposed George Adams, gambling and drinking, although not himself a total abstainer. He argued for Church instruction in schools, the revival of the Sunday School movement and the strengthening of church schools.

Above all he saw himself as a missionary bishop. A 'bush bishop', he enjoyed tramping around the west coast, and personally conducted a 'Bush Sunday School' by correspondence. He wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1901: 'It is because the work is all Missionary here that I love it so. Great questions such as Education, Temperance, Social problems between classes, come to me as duties. Missionary questions come to me as joys'. His vision outdistanced Tasmania.

In 1901 he was recalled to Britain to be secretary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. In 1905 he was appointed Prelate of the Order of St Michael and St George; and was raised to the rank of Knight Commander in the 1928 King's Birthday Honours.

In 1887 he inherited New Park, his father's country house and estate, at Moville in Inishowen, County Donegal. Described in his Times obituary as a man "always young in enthusiasm and open vision", he died on 25 November 1932 and was buried in Moville churchyard.

As mentioned above, he was father of the World War II hero "Monty". Other descendants include Canadian author Charles Montgomery, who wrote a 2004 travel memoir in the steps of his great-grandfather, The Last Heathen: Encounters with Ghosts and Ancestors in Melanesia.


Bishop Montgomery and the Cathedral Chancel

One of the Bishop's first acts was to raise money for the building of the cathedral chancel. A large meeting was held in the town hall to collect £10,000. Although Tasmania in those early days was in a very flourishing condition, many were quite hopeless about raising such a large sum. There was only one thing to say, “It has to be done,” and done it was. The stone was laid. Children came from all over the diocese and presented the money they had collected, £800, through delegates, the procession being led by the bishop’s eldest son. They came again to the consecration in 1894 and presented another £400. But before this an awful crash of banks upset all the bishop’s calculations. Eleven banks broke in Melbourne in a few days and one of the four Tasmanian banks.

Life seemed to stand still. For the bishop, who felt responsible for his clergy and their work, the anxieties were terrible. Would they live through it? They did, and were the better for it. “It forced us all to live as cheaply as possible.” The bishop’s wife, to her husband’s delight, was spoken of as the worst dressed lady in Hobart. “We put down horses, carriage, gardener, everything we could, and devoted the surplus to the diocese. In one year we gave up £300 of our income. Of course it drew us all very closely together, but I trust I may be spared such an ordeal again; it made me very thin!”

But for this there would have been no difficulty about collecting the whole of the £10,000. £2,400 were still needed and a long list of wealthy Tasmanians living in Australia and elsewhere were to be approached. The crash ruined these men and the last sum had to be financed. The bishop got some sixteen men to guarantee interest, whilst he guaranteed twice as much as anyone else. In 1903, eighteen months after the bishop’s departure from the diocese, the debt was down to £150, due largely to the generous efforts of his friend, Dean Kite. The beautiful chancel when completed was a great joy to Bishop Montgomery. As he passed by it in the darkest days he would murmur, “Never mind; it is up, it is up.”

 

Monty of El Alamein, WW2 Hero


Monty of El Alamein, WW2 Hero


MONTY OF EL ALAMEIN, ww2 HeRO

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Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery (17 November 1887 – 24 March 1976)
1
st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, KG, GCB, DSO, PC, DL
nicknamed "Monty" and "The Spartan General"

One of the most interesting families to live at Bishopscourt was the Montgomery family. The house changed considerably during a major building phase in 1889 in preparation for the arrival of a new bishop, Bishop Montgomery, and his family at the height of the British Empire.

One of the children, Bernard Montgomery, 1st. Viscount Montgomery of Alamein (Monty), became a noted British Commander and hero, but his childhood in Tasmania is not so well known.

Field Marshall Montgomery of Alamein spent his childhood in Tasmania, and the ideas and attitudes he formed during those crucial years stayed with him all his life. He was the third son of Henry Montgomery, Bishop of Tasmania from 1889-1901. Monty went on to become the most successful British General of World War II. He never lost a campaign. 

He had a difficult relationship with his mother. Read about Monty, the Black Sheep, and his Mother.

Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, KG, GCB, DSO, PC, DL (17 November 1887 – 24 March 1976), nicknamed "Monty" and "The Spartan General", was a senior British Army officer who fought in both the First World War and the Second World War.

He saw action in the First World War as a junior officer of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. At Méteren, near the Belgian border at Bailleul, he was shot through the right lung by a sniper, during the First Battle of Ypres. He was nearly buried alive, as recounted by his mother. He returned to the Western Front as a general staff officer and took part in the Battle of Arras in April/May 1917. He also took part in the Battle of Passchendaele in late 1917 before finishing the war as chief of staff of the 47th (2nd London) Division.

In the inter-war years he commanded the 17th (Service) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers and, later, the 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment before becoming commander of 9th Infantry Brigade and then General Officer Commanding (GOC) 8th Infantry Division.

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One month after the infamous Burning of Cork by the Black and Tans in December 1920, Montgomery was appointed Brigade Major of the British Army’s 17th Infantry Brigade stationed in the city. Their task was to carry out counter insurgency operations during the final stages of the Irish War of Independence. The brainchild of Winston Churchill, the Black and Tans were mercenaries that became known for their attacks on civilians and civilian property, terrorising the Irish people.

At 7 pm on the evening of 16th May 1922, led by Major Bernard Montgomery, the last 400 British soldiers marched out of the barracks, on to the Old Youghal Road and down Summerhill to embark on the SS Classic. It marked the end of 116 years of occupation of the barracks by the British army and the end of 750 years of British garrisons in Cork.

Montgomery married Elisabeth Carver (nee Hobart) who was the sister of Percie Hobart KBE, 79th Armored Division. Sadly, in 1937, Betty contracted septicaemia and died. The loss devastated Montgomery, and he buried himself in preparations for the war, and was promoted to Major General in 1938.

During the Second World War, Monty commanded the British Eighth Army from August 1942 in the Western Desert until the final Allied victory in Tunisia in May 1943.

This command included the Second Battle of El Alamein, a turning point in the Western Desert Campaign and World War II. Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister at the time, said of this victory: 
"Now this is not the end; it is not even the beginning of the end." Read more about this epic battle.

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Monty subsequently commanded the British Eighth Army during the Allied invasion of Sicily and the Allied invasion of Italy.

He was in command of all Allied ground forces during Operation Overlord from the initial landings until after the Battle of Normandy.

He then continued in command of the 21st Army Group for the rest of the campaign in North West Europe. As such he was the principal field commander for the failed airborne attempt to bridge the Rhine at Arnhem, and the Allied Rhine crossing.

On 4 May 1945 he took the German surrender at Lüneburg Heath in Northern Germany.

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After the war he became Commander-in-Chief of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) in Germany and then Chief of the Imperial General Staff (1946–1948). From 1948 to 1951 he served as Chairman of the Commanders-in-Chief Committee of the Western Union. He then served as NATO's Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe until his retirement in 1958.

Read Monty's Obituary in the New York Times in 1976

Insights into the Irish War of Independence

Montgomery's views on how to deal with the Irish people struggling for independence

He later wrote to the notorious Major Percival of the Essex Regiment in 1923 (they were stationed together in Cork):

“Personally, my whole attention was given to defeating the rebels but it never bothered me a bit how many houses were burnt. I think I regarded all civilians as ‘Shinners’ and I never had any dealings with any of them. My own view is that to win a war of this sort, you must be ruthless. Oliver Cromwell, or the Germans, would have settled it in a very short time. Nowadays public opinion precludes such methods, the nation would never allow it, and the politicians would lose their jobs if they sanctioned it.

He was of the opinion that if the British had gone on the rebellion could probably have been quashed, but thought it would have broken out again the moment the troops were removed.

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The Black and Tans

The Black and Tans mainly comprised unemployed World War 1 veterans willing to "face a rough and dangerous task", helping to boost the ranks of the RIC in policing an increasingly anti-British Ireland. They were not subject to strict discipline in their first months and, as a result, their deaths at the hands of the IRA in 1920 were often repaid with arbitrary reprisals against the civilian population. In the summer of 1920, the Black and Tans burned and sacked many small towns and villages in Ireland, beginning with Tuam in County Galway in July 1920 and also including Trim, Balbriggan, Knockcroghery, Thurles and Templemore amongst many others. 

In November 1920, the Tans "besieged" Tralee in revenge for the IRA abduction and killing of two local RIC men. They closed all the businesses in the town, let no food in for a week and shot dead three local civilians. On 14 November, the Tans were suspected of abducting and murdering a Roman Catholic priest, Father Michael Griffin, in Galway. His body was found in a bog in Barna a week later. From October 1920 to July 1921, the Galway region was "remarkable in many ways", most notably the level of police brutality towards suspected IRA members, which was far above the norm in the rest of Ireland. On the night of 11 December 1920, they sacked Cork, destroying a large part of the city centre.

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Battle of El Alamein


Battle of El Alamein


A TURNING POINT in HISTORY

The Second Battle of El Alamein began on 23 October 1942, and ended 12 days later with one of the first large-scale, decisive Allied land victories of the war. It was a decisive turning point in history.

Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister at the time, said of this victory:

"Now this is not the end; it is not even the beginning of the end."

 
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Changing the course of World War II

I have cancelled the plan for withdrawal. If we are attacked, then there will be no retreat.  If we cannot stay here alive, then we will stay here dead.” General Bernard Montgomery, exclaimed.

The Battle of El Alamein was primarily fought between two of the outstanding commanders of World War Two, Montgomery, who succeeded the dismissed Auchinleck, and Rommel. After Dunkirk and successive defeats in resisting Hitler across Europe and Africa, by 1942 Allied morale was at a very low point. 

The Allied victory at El Alamein led to the retreat of the Afrika Korps and the German surrender in North Africa in May 1943. From this point onwards, history was changed. What seemed like the end of democracy and freedom was turned into a decisive fight-back with the confidence and expectation that Hitler could be defeated.

Montgomery, a master planner, correctly predicted both the length of the battle and the number of casualties (13,500). Soon after Allied armoured units and infantry broke through the German and Italian lines and were pursuing the enemy forces at speed along the coast road, a violent rainstorm burst over the region, bogging down the tanks and support trucks in the desert mud. Montgomery, standing before his officers at headquarters and close to tears, announced that he was forced to call off the pursuit. Historian Corelli Barnett has pointed out that the rain also fell on the Germans, and that the weather is therefore an inadequate explanation for the failure to exploit the breakthrough, but nevertheless the Battle of El Alamein had been a great success. Over 30,000 prisoners of war were taken, including the German second-in-command, General von Thoma, as well as eight other general officers. Rommel, having been in a hospital in Germany at the start of the battle, was forced to return on 25 October 1942 after Stumme – his replacement as German commander – died of a heart attack in the early hours of the battle.

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Australia's Pivotal Role in WW2

El Alamein became the most important battle in which Australians participated during the war. This was for two reasons: the battle was a transformative event that changed world history, and the role played by the 9th Division was crucial to the British victory, a point made by British commanders at the time. When the battle ended, Montgomery went immediately to the Australian lines to thank the commander of the 9th Division, Lieutenant General Leslie Morshead.

The conundrum, however, is that El Alamein has become the forgotten battle in Australian memory. It has a contradictory identity: it is the most important battle we fought in that war, yet is the least remembered.

Read more

THE END OF THE BEGINNING

On 10 November 1942, Churchill spoke in the Guildhall at the Lord Mayor of London’s banquet: “I have never promised anything but blood, toil, tears and sweat. Now, however, we have a new experience. We have a victory—a remarkable and definite victory. A bright gleam has caught the helmets of our soldiers, and warmed and cheered all our hearts.”

For the first time in two years the church bells in Britain were rung. Prior to that, they would have signaled a German invasion.

Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery,  , first Viscount Montgomery of Alamein (1887–1976) by terence cuneo.jpg

Monty's Accidental Promotion

In one of the strange fortunes of war Gott was killed flying back to Cairo for a bath on 7 August 1942 and Brooke, relieved, was finally able to persuade a reluctant Churchill to summon Montgomery later that night.

Montgomery's peremptory assumption of command of Eighth Army was deeply resented by Auchinleck and his departing entourage, but became, for the men of Eighth Army, one of the miracles of the desert war. Seizing command two days earlier than authorized by Auchinleck (13 August 1942), ordering up immediate reinforcements from Cairo against Auchinleck's wishes, instructing the vital heights of Alam Halfa to be defended in strength, joining army and air headquarters together in a single operating unit, and instructing all contingency plans for retreat to be destroyed, Montgomery's edict that Eighth Army would stand and die where it stood told everything. ‘No Withdrawal and No Surrender’ became the army's buzzword, as the new, white-kneed, evangelical commander toured the units of his army, acquiring multiple cap badges for his Australian bush hat as he did, and spreading a new gospel of victory.

By the time Churchill had returned to the desert on 19 August 1942, the ‘complete change in atmosphere’ was so marked that Churchill could hardly credit the transformation. Brooke was equally surprised. ‘I knew my Monty pretty well by then’, he wrote later, ‘but I must confess I was dumbfounded by the situation facing him, the rapidity with which he had grasped the essentials, the clarity of his plans, and above all, his unbounded self-confidence—a self-confidence with which he inspired all those that he came into contact with’ (Bryant, The Turn of the Tide, 478)


one of the most famous telegrams of the war

On 10 August 1942, Churchill had sent this directive to General Alexander:

1. Your prime and main duty will be to take or destroy at the earliest opportunity the German-Italian army commanded by Field-Marshal Rommel, together with all its supplies and establishments in Egypt and Libya.
2. You will discharge or cause to be discharged such other duties as pertain to your command, without prejudice to the task described in paragraph 1, which must be considered paramount in His Majesty’s interests.

While in Tripoli, Churchill received, from Alexander in Cairo, one of the most famous telegrams of the war. Nigel Nicholson, in Alex, his biography of Alexander, writes that the Prime Minister said to Alexander, “Pray let me have a message which I can read in the House of Commons when I get back—and make it dramatic and colourful.” Alexander, Nicholson writes, rose to the occasion:

Sir, The orders you gave me [on 10] August, 1942, have been fulfilled. His Majesty’s enemies, together with their impedimenta, have been completely eliminated from Egypt, Cyrenaica, Libya,**** and Tripolitania. I now await your further instructions.

THE GAME OF DOUBLE-BLUFF AND DECRYPTION

THE BATTLE OF ALAM HALFA - THE WARM-UP TO EL ALAMEIN

Occurring between 30 August and 6 September 1942, this was Rommel’s “last throw.” The “Desert Fox”, Rommel, knew that the British were building huge reserves of men tanks, stores and equipment for an offensive; and that if he was to conquer Egypt, he would have to get in first. He planned a typical Rommel manoeuvre: a huge “right hook” which would swing north behind the Eighth Army.

His maps and intelligence told him that the British defenses at the southern end of the line were thin. Here is where he would attack. By night Rommel moved his units south, leaving dummy vehicles and trucks behind so as to fool the British. He wired his intentions to Rome and Berlin. His plans were in Montgomery’s and Alexander’s hands immediately.

General Sir Francis de Guingand, Montgomery’s chief of staff, noticed on maps that the Ragil Depression, where Rommel was expected to strike, had deep, shifting and treacherous sands. Through the disinformation coming from the now British-controlled CONDOR spy system, a message was sent saying that the British in the south were awaiting reinforcements, and not ready for more than a makeshift defence. Then de Guingand had his cartographers make a map showing that the ground was hard and suitable for panzers. The problem was how to get the map to Rommel in such a way that he would believe it. A scout car loaded with explosives was sent towards the German lines with an already dead driver and detonated. The Germans sent a patrol to investigate and found the corpse, along with the false map.

Rommel’s attack began on August 30th, and quickly bogged down in the newly-sown British minefields. Tanks, armoured cars, half-tracks, and trucks found themselves floundering in the “hard ground” on the false map, and were bombed and strafed by the RAF. Rommel ordered the attack to turn north, just as Montgomery had planned, and ran straight into the firepower of four armoured divisions where his intelligence had told him that there was only one.

Rommel withdrew. Montgomery did not pursue him. His mind was focused on the coming major battle which would decide the entire North African campaign.

THE BATTLE OF ALAMEIN & OPERATION BERTRAM

In terms of men and material this battle, on 23 October 1942, was an unequal contest. The Eighth Army had about 195,000 men against Rommel’s 104,000, of whom only about 50,000 were German. In terms of equipment, the British preponderance in field guns was 1.6:1, in anti-tank guns 3:1, in tanks 2.7:1.

What happened is well known. What is less well known is the deception employed by Montgomery, Operation Bertram, designed to deceive the enemy, minimize casualties and maximize success.

As General de Guingand said to Col. Dudley Clarke, who masterminded the deception: “You must conceal 150,000 men, with 1000 guns and 1000 tanks, on a plain as flat and hard as a billiard table, and the Germans must know nothing about it, although they will be watching every movement, listening to every noise, and charting every track. Every bloody wog will be watching you and telling the Germans what you are doing for the price of a packet of tea. You cannot do it, of course, but you’ve bloody well got to.” Clarke and his team succeeded brilliantly.

Montgomery planned his major attack in the north, so he had to convince Rommel that it was coming in the south. A dummy water pipeline was built to the south. A five-mile trench was laid with empty oil drums. At night, another five-mile trench was dug, the oil drums were moved into it, and the previous five-mile trench was filled in. The pace of construction was such that it would not reach the south at least forty-eight hours after the date of the major attack in the north. Dummy pumping stations were also built. 

At the southern end of the “pipeline” a nine square-mile patch of desert was transformed into a phony depot of about 9000 tons of ammunition, food and petrol, which was simulated by about 700 “stacks.” Telegraph poles were laid in gun pits to simulate artillery, with camouflage netting which was allowed to rot, so that the Germans would see they were dummies and take no notice of them.

Then, just before Montgomery mounted an attack to justify all this activity, the telegraph poles were removed, and real guns were put in their place. Suddenly, guns the Germans believed to be dummies belched fire at them. It was a double bluff.

In the north, multiple “sunshields” of phony ten-ton trucks large enough to hold a tank were constructed. To the Germans they appeared to be fixtures. Just before the attack, tanks were moved into the shelter of the dummy trucks which appeared not to have moved. Barrage guns, with their limbers and movers, were similarly in position to resemble three-ton trucks.

That night over 900 guns opened up a fifteen minute barrage on the German lines in the north. The object was to punch a hole in the German lines, then exploit it with armour. On November 4th, Montgomery broke the Axis front, precipitating a general retreat, even though Hitler had ordered Rommel to stand firm.

Shortly after the start of the attack, three events occurred which contributed to Rommel’s hopeless position. First, General Stumme, Rommel’s deputy during the latter’s absence in Germany, died of a heart attack. General Ritter Von Thoma, his successor, voluntarily surrendered and was invited to dinner by Montgomery.

Second, German coast watchers reported the likelihood of a major British amphibious landing behind their lines. Behind a smokescreen there were noises and a smell of engines, the rattling of chains, voices of men shouting over loud-hailers, and flares. It was all a British sonic and naval ruse, provided by recordings aboard MTBs close to the beaches.

Finally, Rommel’s fuel situation became desperate. He prevailed on Mussolini to send five tankers with urgently needed fuel for his tanks. GHQ Cairo knew about this from ULTRA intercepts, but the danger was that if all were sunk, particularly in foggy weather, Rommel would likely conclude that his secure communications were being compromised.

The decision had to go all the way up to Churchill, who (despite the unfounded rumour that he failed to defend Coventry to protect his intelligence source in 1941) was quite willing to risk ULTRA if the stakes were high. In short order the tankers Proserpina, Tripolino, Ostia, Zara and Brioni were located from the air and sunk, one of them in Tobruk harbour.

Sure enough, it was soon learned from ULTRA that Rommel suspected the security of his communications, if not Italian treachery. MI6 in Cairo then sent a message, in a code which they knew the Germans would be able to read, to a phantom group of agents in Naples congratulating them on their timely information, and offering them a raise in pay!

Australia's Pivotal Role in WW2


Australia's Pivotal Role in WW2


El Alamein

Australia's pivotal role in the CHURCHILL's 'end of the beginning' remains underrated at home

El Alamein became the most important battle in which Australians participated during the war. This was for two reasons: the battle was a transformative event that changed world history, and the role played by the 9th Division was crucial to the British victory, a point made by British commanders at the time. When the battle ended, Montgomery went immediately to the Australian lines to thank the commander of the 9th Division, Lieutenant General Leslie Morshead.

The conundrum, however, is that El Alamein has become the forgotten battle in Australian memory. It has a contradictory identity: it is the most important battle we fought in that war, yet is the least remembered.

 
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The turning point of WW2

ARRIVING back in the African desert at dusk on October 25, 1942, an anxious German commander, Erwin Rommel, gave orders to break the British Eighth Army's new offensive in the north - directly attacking the 9th Australian Division.

The Battle of El Alamein, launched two days earlier by Britain's General Bernard Montgomery in an exposed and featureless desert near the Mediterranean Sea, was to that point the most important British offensive of World War II. On Montgomery's initiative would depend Winston Churchill's entire Mediterranean strategy and his conviction that the Middle East must be secured before any campaign to liberate Europe from Nazi control.

When Rommel returned from Germany, where he had gone to recover from illness and confer with Adolf Hitler, the battle had reached a crisis point. He now sent a rallying message to the Axis forces invoking his mystique as the Desert Fox, saying: "I have once more taken over the command of the army."

It was the fourth year of the war. Churchill was struggling, still searching for a significant land victory to break Hitler's momentum. In political and military terms, he knew Montgomery's offensive would become the turning point of the war.

The story of El Alamein is about how Australia played a critical role on the global stage. Britain's mood at the time was captured in the war diary of Churchill's chief of the general staff, General Alan Brooke, who wrote on the eve of battle: "There are great possibilities and great dangers! It may be the turning point of the war."

The global struggle, in fact, was transformed in late 1942 at two points - when in early November Montgomery broke Rommel's army, and when German general Friedrich Paulus failed to take Stalingrad, surrendering his army to the Russians in January 1943.

Paulus went into captivity rather than commit suicide, as Hitler expected - but suicide was the ultimate price Hitler would extract from Rommel in 1944.

Morshead and his division had become illustrious before El Alamein for their role in 1941 in holding Tobruk during a long siege, a symbol of Allied willpower when that willpower was manifestly weak.

The most convincing testimony about El Alamein on which the reputation of the 9th Division endures came from the British commanders on the spot.

General Oliver Leese, who commanded 30 Corps in the battle (including the 9th Division), wrote to Morshead on November 6, 1942, asking him to explain to his men their "immense part" in the victory. Referring to the final Eighth Army breakthrough, Leese told Morshead that "if the Germans could have broken your division, the whole gun support of the attack would have been disorganised and its success vitally prejudiced". Writing within hours of the victory, Leese said: "I am quite certain that this break-out was only made possible by the homeric fighting over your divisional sector."

British historian Niall Barr, in his Pendulum of War: The Three Battles of El Alamein, highlights Rommel's relentless assaults on the 9th Division, saying: "Through their stubborn, repeated attacks and dogged resistance they had drawn the last reserves of the Panzerarmee into the fiercest fighting ever witnessed at El Alamein."

Former Australian War Memorial historian Peter Stanley tells Inquirer: "The Australian achievement still cries out for explanation. Its men withstood 12 continuous days of severe fighting. Their endurance made possible Montgomery's counter-stroke, arguably the only time in history an Australian formation made such a decisive victory possible."

At El Alamein, Montgomery's army was more than 200,000 strong (with some units unfit for offensive operations), with just over 1000 tanks. It faced an Axis force of about 110,000 with about 550 tanks.

In its victory the Eighth Army lost 13,560 killed, wounded or missing. The Commonwealth cemetery at El Alamein contains 7567 headstones and lists 11,945 soldiers and airmen from the African campaign with no known grave.

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The official historian of Tobruk and El Alamein, Barton Maughan, who served as an intelligence officer with the 2/13th Battalion during the battle, records that the 9th Division lost 620 dead, 1944 wounded and had 130 taken prisoner.

In their 2002 book on the battle, historians Mark Johnston and Peter Stanley say: "The Australian division, although representing just under a tenth of the Eighth Army's strength, had suffered more than one in five of its casualties."

When the entire Alamein campaign is considered, from July to November, the division took a total of 5794 casualties out of a strength of about 15,000. A feature was the high degree of casualties among officers.

"Never again would so many Australians die in such numbers in such a short time," Johnston and Stanley write.

"Alamein was the last of the great killing matches in which Australians took part in the 20th century."

The key to the British victory was the appointment of Montgomery as Eighth Army commander. Yet this happened because of a wartime mishap.

In August 1942, Churchill had travelled to Egypt to resolve the command crisis and poor morale in the Eighth Army that had led to its humiliation by Rommel. Impatient to see an offensive, Churchill removed General Claude Auchinleck from command in favour of Lieutenant General "Strafer" Gott. Gott was self-confessedly tired, and it was a misguided appointment. But Gott was killed when his plane was shot down by the Germans while he was on his way to take up his post.

Only at this stage was Montgomery elevated. While a showman and egoist, his appointment was the critical decision. The transformation was immediate.

Visiting the Australians, Monty took to wearing a slouch hat that he would decorate with a variety of regimental badges. Morshead told his officers, "Things are going to be different soon."

"Montgomery was the best," recalls Australian veteran Ron Myers, 93, from the 2/2 Machine Gun Battalion. "He was visible and he was everywhere."

Joe Madeley, 92, from the 2/13th Battalion, says: "As soon as Montgomery arrived we got more of everything. He talked and gave you confidence."

El Alamein defied the usual mythology: the Australians respected their British commander; they trusted Morshead; and the Australian and British chiefs co-operated effectively most of the time.

An unlikely looking pint-sized leader, Montgomery was a social misfit, a clear thinker and superb organiser. His career had been a repudiation of Britain's class-based military leadership from World War I, when commanders rarely saw their men. Monty's dictum involved training, planning, morale-raising activity and communication from the top to bottom of his army.

Having halted Rommel's drive to the Suez Canal in September in a defensive operation known as the Battle of Alam Halfa, Montgomery moved the next month to take the offensive. He predicted El Alamein "will become a hard killing match and will last for 10 to 12 days, therefore our soldiers must be prepared not only to fight and kill but to go on doing so over a prolonged period".

He said the task of his infantry was to "eat the guts" out of the enemy infantry so "he will have no troops with which to hold a front", thereby setting the scene for the tank breakthrough that would scatter Rommel's forces. This tactic put much of the burden on selected infantry units, in particular the 9th Division. Montgomery's words became a literal description of the task of the Australians at El Alamein.

AT 8.40pm on the night of October 23, 1942, Morshead, located 1800m from the Australian start line, wrote to his wife, Myrtle: "In exactly two hours' time by far the greatest battle ever fought in the Middle East will be launched ... it is high moonlight, tomorrow being full moon ... A hard fight is expected and it will no doubt last a long time. We have no delusions about that. But we shall win and I trust put an end to this turning forward and backward to and from Benghazi. The men are full of determination and confidence."

At 9.40pm 900 guns opened up on Rommel's lines. The battlefield was lit up in a delusion of summer light. Australia's official World War II historian Gavin Long writes: "The floor of the desert shook, vehicles shuddered without pause, men's bodies and their very voices quivered under the mighty shock waves."

Veteran Gordon Wallace, 90, from the 2/15th Battalion, recalls: "There was a colossal movement of men and explosions. There were fellows dropping besides you and you had to keep going."

Bill Corey, 94, from the 2/43rd Battalion, says: "At the start it was like daytime. Then it was all noise and the flash of guns."

Madeley says: "When the bombardment began I thought, 'None of us will survive this.' But with the Germans taking the punishment, I then felt, 'It will be a walkover.' "

Montgomery had an integrated plan that required his 30 Corps in the north to break into Rommel's defences; his armour in the form of 10 Corps was to drive through to exploit the infantry's progress; and in the south 13 Corps was to draw off Axis armour, then seek to attack Rommel's rear areas.

The northern line was a rollcall of the old empire - the Australians on the extreme right, closest to the Mediterranean, then from the sea the 51st Highland Division, the New Zealanders, the South Africans and the 4th Indian Division, all under the command of Leese. Leese's records reveal his fears, despite numerical superiority - he wrote before the battle that of his five divisions only the Australians were at full strength and ready for sustained offensive operations.

The 9th Division consisted of three brigades - the 20th Brigade under Brigadier Victor Windeyer (comprising the 2/13th, 2/15th and 2/17th battalions); the 24th Brigade under Brigadier Arthur Godfrey, killed late in the battle (2/28th, 2/32nd and 2/43rd battalions); and the 26th Brigade under Brigadier David Whitehead (2/23rd, 2/24th and 2/48th). The division included five artillery regiments.

Several weeks before the battle the Germans dropped propaganda leaflets on Australian positions: "Aussies. The Yankees are having a jolly good time in your country. And you?" Many troops kept them as souvenirs.

Montgomery's ability to reach all troops was revealed in the pre-battle speech to the 2/24th by its commander, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Weir. "Each of you will receive a personal message from General Montgomery which he has asked me to give to you. In it, he asks that every man will fight til he can no longer fire a rifle."

On opening night almost 10,000 assault troops advanced against heavily fortified Axis posts, minefields and infantry. Some veterans reported they heard bagpipes next to them. Asked how he felt, Corey says: "We never thought of getting beaten." Madeley adds: "I had a nine-man section and after the end of the first night only three were still standing." Corporal CW Mears of the 2/17th reports "dust and chaos, one cannot hear or see".

On the morning of October 24 the Australians were close to their first night objectives. Leese felt 30 Corps' opening had been a "great success". But Montgomery's overall plan had failed - the armoured divisions had failed to break through as instructed.

Even worse, they had hardly tried, thereby provoking serious ructions within the Eighth Army command. Montgomery was dismayed.

In his memoirs he wrote that this "infirmity of purpose on the part of certain senior commanders almost lost us the battle".

It took another 11 days to secure the vital armoured breakthrough. That meant the battle now proceeded into what Montgomery had thought might happen - a "dog fight" or "killing match" over another seven to eight days. The focus now fell on 30 Corps to keep advancing as the Germans geared for a long series of counterattacks.

In his history, Long says that from October 26 "the Australians started their drive northwards and brought the whole weight of Rommel's Afrika Korps against them".

One of Montgomery's intelligence officers, Lieutenant Colonel JO Ewart, described the tactics: "The plan had the simplicity of genius. It was to persuade the Germans that we were going one way and to go the other."

The key came when Rommel finally committed "the whole of the enemy reserve", the 21st Panzer and the 90th Light Division in the north, against the 9th Division where "the Australians had not yielded an inch".

The 9th Division's task was to function as a military sponge - to soak up much of the enemy's firepower to create the opportunity for a tank breakthrough farther south. With Rommel fixated on the northern front, in the south Montgomery on November 2 launched his long-awaited Supercharge, the name given to the armoured breakthrough that finally secured victory at El Alamein.

Morshead was ruthless yet responsible. He accepted the huge burden Montgomery imposed on his division. Leese told Morshead on the night of October 26 that Montgomery wanted the Australians to follow their initial success with more attacks in the north: they must draw everything they could upon themselves. "He (Leese) glanced at Morshead and saw no flicker of hesitancy disturb that swarthy face."

For individual battalions the intensity of prolonged fighting and the scale of casualties was immense. On the night of October 25-26 the 2/48th took Trig 29, a slightly elevated spur, with a combination of artillery and hand-to-hand fighting, with more than 100 Germans captured and nearly as many killed.

Across the next two days Rommel launched 25 attacks in an effort to regain the ground, declaring that "rivers of blood" were expended on a miserable strip of land.

By October 29 the 2/13th was near breaking point. "It had been attacking and beating off counterattacks for five sleepless nights," Long writes. Its rifle companies were reduced to 35 of all ranks, less than one-third of normal strength. Its commander, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Turner, was killed early in the battle and his replacement, Lieutenant Colonel "Flash" George Colvin, was seriously wounded and evacuated on October 29.

The 2/15th commander, Lieutenant Colonel Keith Mango, advancing with his forward troops, lost his arm and suffered serious head wounds; he died two days later. In furious fighting the 2/23rd casualties included two majors, four captains and 10 lieutenants.

On October 28 Rommel had sent a message to all commanders: "The present battle is a life-and-death struggle. I therefore demand that every officer and man gives his all."

In the north the tempo intensified on October 30-31, with Morshead launching an even more ambitious attack relying on the 2/32nd, 2/24th and 2/48th, the last of these under the command of Lieutenant Colonel HH Hammer.

These battalions cut a passage two miles (3.2km) long in one of the enemy's strongest parts of the battlefield. But the casualties were crippling.

The 2/24th entered this attack with 206 men and had 42 killed and 116 wounded. The 2/48th lost 47 killed and 148 wounded. But the objectives that night had not been reached and Maughan, most unusually in an official history, criticises Morshead's judgment. Johnston and Stanley bluntly judge that Morshead had asked too much of his troops.

However, from Leese's position at 30 Corps headquarters the Australians were fulfilling their strategic brief to the hilt. He said: "They drew on their front most of the Panzer Corps, of which they destroyed a great part with their anti-tank guns. It was a magnificent piece of fighting by a great division led by an indomitable character, Leslie Morshead."

What was the key to sustained high Australian morale? Apart from more resources and more guns, Corey tells Inquirer: "The officers and men mixed together. They were one of us. We weren't like European armies, where the officers and the men were completely separate."

ALAMEIN was the beginning of the Allied march to Berlin. In London, before midnight on November 4, 1942, the BBC advised its audience "to stay listening because we are giving the best news we have heard for years".

Earlier that day the Eighth Army had captured General Ritter von Thoma, commander of the Afrika Korps, who was compelled to dine with Montgomery the night before he went into captivity. Rommel's son, Manfred, recalled long after the battle his father "knew it (the war) was all over" once Montgomery had prevailed in North Africa.

Von Thoma later said of Montgomery: "I thought he was very cautious considering his immensely superior strength but he is the only field marshal in this war who won all his battles."

Montgomery's biographer Nigel Hamilton says El Alamein had a double meaning: as a military victory and as a symbol to the free and enslaved world of the Allied ability to ensure Hitler's defeat.

On November 10, 1942, Churchill spelled out El Alamein's importance after a long run of British military defeats, famously declaring: "This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

Yet El Alamein has a paradoxical ethos as both beginning and end. It was the beginning of the defeat of the Axis powers because it showed the democracies possessed the will and resources to prove Hitler could not win a war on two fronts.

Yet it was an end because, in the evocative words of Maughan: "The call to battle was a rollcall of the empire, that grand but old-fashioned 'British Commonwealth of Nations' fighting its last righteous war before it was to dissolve into a shadowy illusion."

Alamein was the empire's military swan song and where it left the stage. The battle ended that phase of war where the empire stood alone. The torch was passed to Russia and and the US. Never again would Australians fight under British command in the Middle East.

In his official history Maughan summarises the Australian role: during the first phase of the battle the 9th Division shared the heavy fighting with other assault units; in the critical second phase, the dog-fight, it "bore the main burden of the attack"; and in the final phase, though not heavily committed, all three brigades were involved.

Maughan quotes from the autobiography of British Lieutenant General Brian Horrocks, commander of 13 Corps: "The success of Supercharge was largely due to the 9th Australian Division who had carried out continuous attacks night after night. After the battle I went to see General Morshead to congratulate him on the magnificent fighting carried out by his division. His reply was the classic understatement of all time: 'Thank you, General, the boys were interested.' "

Johnston and Stanley record that after the battle Morshead, aware the division would soon return home, invited the commander-in-chief of the Middle East, General Harold Alexander, to an event no other formation in wartime had tried: a parade of the entire division.

It occurred on Gaza airstrip on December 22, 1942, in bright sunshine with 12,000 officers and men in formation, a phalanx more than a kilometre long of troops somewhat jaded and tired, having risen early that morning. Alexander delivered a short but uplifting address: "Your reputation as fighters has always been famous, but I do not believe you have ever fought with greater bravery or distinction than you did during that battle, when you broke the German and Italian armies in the Western Desert." The Last Post was sounded with Maughan, at the event, remarking that it seemed the final wailing note must have reached back to "those rows of crosses at El Alamein".

On the 25th anniversary of the battle in 1967, Montgomery returned to the Alamein cemetery. Johnston and Stanley recount his remark: "The more I think of it, the more I realise that winning was only made possible by the bravery of the 9th Division."

He said he would visit Australia again to thank them. He never made it.

The battlefield today bears no signs of its epic past. There are just a few dirt tracks to guide explorers to the sites of once fierce encounters at Trig 29, Fig Orchard and Thomson's Post where many Australians fought and died. Close to the 2/13th's location on the second night we found the remains of a mine and shards of shrapnel.

The battlefield, however, is a reminder that World War II was a vast global struggle. Australia's security was threatened by the prospect that hostile and murderous regimes would establish global or hemispheric dominance. Our ultimate security was determined by the great encounters far from our shores and progress in the European and Middle East theatres, not just the Pacific theatre, directly affected our future.

There is no doubt British leaders at the time placed a rare value on the role of the 9th Division. As an imperialist, Churchill's technique was to offer patronising thanks to his "colonies" for a job well done. However, Churchill's message to prime minister John Curtin after the 9th Division's return was different: it reflected the recognition among British elites that, at the fulcrum of the war in the Western Desert, the Australians had done something special.

In his March 6, 1943, cable, Churchill said: "As I told General Morshead in a letter I gave him before his departure from Cairo, this division has left behind it a record of energy, courage, enterprise and daring which will be an imperishable memory among all the nations of the British Empire who fought in true comradeship in the Western Desert."

Source: The Australian

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Diggers fought to keep the land of Libya free

AUSTRALIAN land, sea and air forces played a pivotal role in the liberation of Libya at the start of the North African campaign in December 1940.

Australia contributed warships, including the cruiser HMAS Sydney, two air force squadrons and thousands of Diggers from the 6th, 7th and 9th Australian Infantry Divisions to the Libyan and Egyptian campaigns between 1940 and 1942.

Early in 1941 the 6th Division helped capture more than 65,000 Italians when the fortresses at Bardia and Tobruk in Libya fell to the allies.

The Australians then pushed west along the coast and captured Benghazi. It was during this fighting that the men whose graves have been desecrated fell in battle.

In April, 1941, Axis forces launched an offensive and the untested Australian 9th Division, under Lieutenant-General Leslie Morshead, took up the fight after the 6th was withdrawn and sent to Greece.

When a fresh German offensive forced a retreat to Egypt, the 9th Division and the 18th Brigade of the 7th Division were ordered to hold Tobruk at all costs and the "Rats of Tobruk" were born.

The 14,000 Diggers and 12,000 Brits held the port city from April to November 1941 despite an intense siege. The defence of Tobruk cost the Australian units more than 3000 casualties, including 832 killed - 941 were captured.

Fighting alongside our Allied soldiers in the battle to repel the Germans and Italians were the local muslim Bedouin tribes, whose same descendants ironically attacked the graves this week.

The Aussies adopted the moniker "Rats of Tobruk" after a Radio Berlin broadcast referred to the Australians as "caught like rats in a trap".

The Diggers considered the nickname as a badge of honour . During 1942 the 9th Division, four Australian destroyers and the RAAF squadrons fought with the British 8th Army at the battles of El Alamein in Egypt.

In November 1942, with the Australians involved in some of the heaviest fighting, the Commonwealth force, under the command of British Lieutenant-General Bernard "Monty" Montgomery, finally defeated the Axis force led by the "Desert Fox" German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.

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The Rats of Tobruk: the Australian 9th Division

"Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein we never had a defeat," Winston Churchill reflected on the course of World War II.

In El Alamein, an obscure railway stop west of Alexandria that in the course of a few days became known around the world, it was a battle that turned the fortunes of war. In November 1942, the Allied Eighth Army broke German and Italian lines to push Rommel's Axis troops back to Tunisia and defeat in Africa.

In the midst of "the blue" was the Australian 9th Division, famous throughout the British Empire a year earlier for its defence of Tobruk. Now they dug into slit trenches on low ridges in open ground to hold a line scratched in the stony sands of Egypt.

"They say the Aussies are great skites," wrote a private to his mother. "But they have something to skite about. They were given the hardest part of the line to smash."

I come in boots and football socks to visit the Australian dead, buried here at the Commonwealth War Cemetery where they fought: together, and in four plots on the western flank, nearest the front line. "Nine Div" comprised about 10 per cent of the Eighth Army's strength, yet accounted for more than one in five of its casualties.

"There are more Australians buried at El Alamein than there are at Pozieres in France," says Peter Stanley, a military social historian who for more than 20 years worked at the Australian War Memorial. "Yet the significance of the campaign has always been overshadowed by the war against the Japanese."

Eucalypts throw thin shade from a high African sun. Balls of clipped bougainvillea flower purple. Caretakers paid by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission tend ornamental succulents, oleander and olives, planted on bare earth among headstones, overwhelming in number and laid in patterns to confer an order to an otherwise crazy death.

Of the 7970 men buried, 1234 are Australian. Never since have so many Australians died in such numbers in such a short time. The names of a further 655 are chiselled in limestone in a cloister honouring Allied servicemen who "died fighting on land or in the air where two continents meet and to whom the fortune of war denied a known and honoured grave".

The scale of loss is sobering. I walk haphazardly at first among the headstones, reading succinct obituaries: a trooper from the Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons; a private from Black Watch; a southern Rhodesian rifleman from the King's Royal Rifle Corps; an air gunner in the Royal Canadian Air Force. All so young and dead and buried so far from home.

I wonder about their lives. Who were they? Where were they from? Why were they here? How did their families grieve?

A visitors' register is signed mostly by Australians, with recent sightseers from Mudgee, Woodend, Randwick, Toowoomba, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Alice Springs. Holidaying Britons and Italians are the majority of other visitors. And Kiwis.

At the El Alamein Military Museum we meet five couples from northern England, one with a deep Yorkshire burr. All look of an age to have grown up on war stories of "Monty", the celebrated British field marshal we had toasted in a first-floor bar named in his honour at Alexandria's famous Cecil hotel, where Churchill once stayed.

We talk also to seven middle-aged Gold Coast and Brisbane women (and one from New Zealand) at the end of a 19-day Egypt tour. "We fly out tomorrow," says one. "We've seen everything." Their highlight was camping in the White Desert. "We froze our butts off."

Like most, the two of us visit El Alamein on a day trip from Alexandria, travelling west on the North Coast Road through fig orchards and border checkpoints and a ribbon of dusty Bedouin towns where slaughtered goat carcasses hang by the highway. "They keep from their old life their dress and their pigeon towers," says our guide. "The Bedouin like the desert."

Our trip is with Peregrine, one of many Australian tour companies visiting places abroad of national military significance. "Kokoda's the most popular, especially with groups," says Ryan Turner, a Peregrine Adventures tour operator. "It's a bit cheaper, it's accessible and it's a serious challenge."

John Waller, of Boronia Travel, the official agent for the Australian War Memorial, says dawn services on the Western Front are increasingly popular but Gallipoli still pulls the biggest crowds. "It's a rugged peninsula that hasn't changed," he says. "You can still understand and see the whole of what they were up against."

We travel further west, beyond the walled Egyptian summer resorts with golf courses and English names such as "Marina" that line glittering Mediterranean shores where Australian infantrymen once bathed and skylarked. Beach cricket was played in lulls between fighting.

"In April and May was the 'fifty'," says our guide, Soha Mohamed Ali, a specialist otherwise in Greco-Roman ceramics. He's referring to a wind that blows up sandstorms from the south and generally lasts about 50 days. "Always the war would end. And Christmas was a day off."

On the road to Libya we cross coastal marshes to see how the other side commemorates its dead. German volunteers in the 1950s interred the bodies of 4313 of their men in a grand octagonal ossuary built on the brow of a hill. Black basalt walls inside list the dead, grouped in regions that sound like football clubs: Bayern, Hamburg, Bremen, Baden, Preussen.

Frangipanis bloom in a garden by the Sacrario Militare Italiano di El Alamein, a tall white memorial column rising from a peak known in battle as Trig 33. "Ours is a funny sort of tourism," an Italian captain had confided in his war diary, "and it's beginning to go a bit sour on us." Dreadful numbers of Italians died: about 4800 are entombed in vaults in the memorial, another 38,000 are still missing in the sands.

A roadside stone cairn in the barren "no-man's land" marks the furthest limit they pushed east: 111 kilometres from Alexandria, on July 1, 1942. "Manco la fortuna, non il valore," reads a marble plaque. "We were short on luck, not on bravery."

In the days after the decisive November battle, Australian Sergeant John Lovegrove of the 2/43rd recorded the melancholy mood of his men. All were "very much down, virtually everyone grieved and saddened for lost comrades", he wrote. There was "no hilarity, each and everyone sombre and absorbed with his own grieving". And still it feels like a landscape of loss. The desert remains full of dead men.



Read more: 

Monty, the Black Sheep of the Family


Monty, the Black Sheep of the Family


Monty, the Black Sheep, and his Mother

The children were educated at St. Michael’s Collegiate School in Hobart, founded in 1892 by their father. One of the schools’ houses is named Montgomery (Monty) after the family. As the boys grew older, a schoolroom was built in the grounds of their home, Bishopscourt, and they were educated with the help of tutors from England. Even in those days Monty wore a beret, a scarlet one. The famous black one came later.

Life in Tasmania was a battlefield between Monty and his mother. She was a strict and very domineering woman, and he, as strong willed as she, rebelled against her authority. There was a constant clash of wills in which young Bernard undertook a series of manoeuvres to outwit her and demonstrate his independence. Mother always won.

One of her greatest fears was that her children would acquire “a Tasmanian accent”, so at the least sign of that, the guilty child would have to stand before her repeating the offending word in “proper English” until she was satisfied. With the bishop away often for months at a time, she constantly beat the children or virtually ignored them.

Of his early years Field Marshal Montgomery wrote:

“Certainly I can say that my own childhood was unhappy. This was due to a clash of wills between my mother and myself. My early life was a series of fierce battles, from which my mother invariably emerged the victor.” He wrote of “constant defeats and the beatings with a cane.” He recalled that his mother ran all the family finances and “gave my father 10 shillings a week” and that “he was severely cross‐examined if he meekly asked for another shilling or two before the end of the week.”

Monty never fully forgave his mother and said of his time in Tasmania, “One was hemmed in…..one was opposed….one had to break out”. He refused to allow his own son any contact with his grandmother and did not attend her funeral in 1949.

Interview with Lady Montgomery at Moville House in 1943

"My son always lives up to his creed," Lady Montgomery said in an interview at Moville House in 1943. She then told of an incident that occurred in Hobart, when Bishop Montgomery one day called his five sons into his study and said to them : "Whatever profession you choose, always put God first in your lives, and strive to serve the Empire. You come from a family of gentlemen. That does not signify mere outward refinement. It speaks of a refined and noble mind, to which anything dishonourable, mean, or impure is abhorrent and unworthy."

FAMILY CREED

"That is the Montgomery creed," Lady Montgomery added, "and all five boys have lived up to it. Young Bernard was so deeply moved that later that night he confessed that he had sold his bicycle without permission to get money to buy stainps for his collection. He wasn't a namby-pamby child. He was naughty and mischievious as most children are.

"When we were watching troops marching in the street in Hobart at the time of the Boer War, Bernard turned to me, his eyes glistening, and said: "I'm going to be a soldier; and if I'm a good soldier perhaps one day I'll have my own army.'

"I said: 'Soldiering is a hard life.'

Bernard replied: 'Of course, but I'll make myself fit and do everything a soldier has to do, then my men will say I'm one of them.'

My son never forgot that. He's as hard on himself as he is on others."

NEARLY LOST LIFE

Lady Montgomery also revealed that her famous son nearly lost his life and was almost buried alive in the first World War.

"He was badly wounded early in 1914 when he was leading his company," she said. "He was lying unconscious when the body of his batman, who had been shot through the heart, fell on him. Both he and the batman were carted away to a clearing station. When he woke he heard a doctor say: 'This man has only half an hour to live.'

"Later he was believed dead, and was placed on a lorry to be driven away for burial. But the driver of the lorry thought he saw the 'corpse' move and reported the fact to the doctor, who found that Bernard was alive."

Monty's New York Times Obituary


Monty's New York Times Obituary


LONDON, Wednesday, March 24, 1976 — Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery, the most famous British soldier of modern times, died early today, the Ministry of Defense announced. He was 88 years old.

Lord Montgomery died in his sleep at his country home in the south of England where he had been bedridden for several years. A military funeral will be held at Windsor.

Controversial Militarist

General Montgomery's victory over the Germans and Italians at El Alamein in Northern Egypt in November 1942 was a major and decisive battle in history, for before it, the Germans had not lost a major battle In World War II.

But the controversial, cantankerous, and stubborn general bore a major responsibilty for one of the war's most tragically executed blunders. It was an operation code‐named “Market‐Garden,” of which he was the major architect, designed to seize from the Germans, in 1944, five major Dutch bridges and cross the Rhine into German territory.

But the bridge at Arnhem the last in the battle, the one later dubbed by the historian Cornelius Ryan as “A Bridge Too Far,” could not be taken, and the result was a major setback with all its consequences, including horrendous casualties, The Allies did not, in fact, cross the Rhine until March 1945.

Although General Montgomery frankly, in his memoirs, abandoned his usual reluctance to admit error and conceded “I take the blame for this mistake” of not getting sufficient paratrooper forces close enough to the bridge in time, and said “I must admit … I underestimated the difficulties,” he laid most of the blame for the rout to American generals led by Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The matter of blame‐taking and finger‐pointing, regarding the controversial Battle of Arnheim, has been the subject of continuous debate by the generals involved, military and political historians, and armchair strategists ever since the war.

But it is pretty well agreed that General Montgomery's essential point was that General Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, did not give him suffcient support in the part of his “Market‐Garden” strategy that called for going straight for, and in the end controlling Germany's Ruhr Valley, over Europe's northern rim.

In his “Memoirs,” published in 1958, General Montgomery indicated that he felt General Eisenhower had mistakenly put too much trust in two of his generals, Omar N. Bradley and George S. Patton Jr., for helping to carry out the Montgomery‐inspired Ruhr strategry.

The British general wanted to go at the industrially essential Ruhr with 40 divisions, operating on a relatively narrow front, with himself, presumably, in command.

The enormous self‐assurance of General Montgomery — he later became a field marshal and a viscount—communicated itself to his countrymen at a time when that was exactly what they needed. This self‐confidence permeated his extensive, pogtwar memoirs and journalistic writings and irritated many of his wartime colleagues, some of whom he criticized With almost insulting offhandedness.

Some of those so criticized pointed out that his victory at El Alamein, as well as certain other successes, was won over foes greatly inferior in manplower and materiel.

Nevertheless, Field Marshal Montgomery was one of Britain's genuine heroes in World War II. Then in his fifties, he was a slightly built, wiry man with what has been described as a “rigid, almost fanatical, set of the head.” He had high cheekbones, a needle nose and pale blue eyes that had a way intensely irritating to some, of Iooking through and past the person with whom he was conversing. He was dour and somewhat eccentric. He neither smoked nor drank and had a mania for physical fitness.

‘Monty’ to His Men

At the time of the desert fighting in Africa the men of General Montgomery's Eighth Army saw him in swirls of dust waving to them from command cars or from an open tank turret. Sometimes he wore the beret of the Royal Tank Corps with two regimental badges pinned to it. Again he would appear in a big Australian campaign hat covered with badges. Usually he wore an old turtleneck sweater, To his men, and to a good part of the world, he became “Monty.”

His complete self‐assurance, the touch of showmanship that appealed to the Tommies and, above all, his way of taking them into his confidence gave them faith in themselves and in their commanders. (Some squirmed, however, at the schoolboyish phrases in his message on the eve of the battle of‐El Alamein, such as “hit the Hun for six” and “good hunting, chaps.”)

In his memoirs Field Marshal Montgomery recalled that when he was at the front in France in World War I he never once saw the British commander in chief. It was his policy not to let this happen when he was in high command. Of his policy of dealing with troops, he said, “Tell them the truth. Warm their hearts. Excite their imagina tions.” As a colleague said, all this “made Monty the best known, if not the best liked, field commander since Wellington.”

Field Marshal Montgomery was an exponent of muscular Christianity. His father, who became an Anglican bishop, established a record at Cambridge University of jumping up the 10‐foot‐long and 4‐foothigh steps of Trinity College. When General Montgomery took command of the Eighth Army in Egypt in 1942 he made his officers run up and down stairs to keep in condition.

At his retirement in September, 1958, Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery of Alamein had completed 50 years of active duty. Since 1855, no British Army officer is known to have had a longer unbroken period of active duty.

His memoirs, published in 1958, were critical of his allies and of many of his brother officers. After calling his former superior officer, General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, “a remarkable and most lovable man,” he wrote:

“He had never seen a shot fired in war till the landings in North Africa and he never commanded troops in battle. I would not class Ike as a great soldier. He might have become one if he had ever had the experience of exercising direct command of a division, corps and army—which unfortunately did not come his way.”

Controversial Travels

After Lord Montgomery left the army he traveled extensively and wrote for various British publications about what he had seen and the persons with whom he had talked. In his writing he could boil down a world crisis into a kind of schoolboy insolence that made amusing and instructive reading. Once when tensions were building up between Britain and West Germany, Lord Montgomery had seen Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. At a dinner he told 400 senior officers of the Royal Military College of Science that Dr. Adenauer “needed a dose of weed killer.” He added that “a small dose would do.”

Born in London

Bernard Law Montgomery, third son in a big family, was born Nov. 17, 1887, at Kennington, London, where his father, the Rev. Henry Hutchinson Montgomery, was vicar. His mother, the former Maud Farrar, was a daughter of the Very Rev. F. W. Farrar, Dean of Canterbury. Dr. Farrar wrote religious and inspirational books for children. One of these, “Eric or Little by Little,” became one of the most widely circulated books of its kind in the English‐speaking world.

Like several other great British soldiers of his generation, Field Marshal Montgomery came of a Northern Irish family. His father inherited the family estate at New Park, Donegal.

Bernard Montgomery spent his early childhood in Hobart, the neat little capital of Tasmania, where his father was appointed bishop in 1889. When he was 14, the family returned to England and settled in Chiswick, London.

Of his early years Field Marshal Montgomery wrote:

“Certainly I can say that my own childhood was unhappy. This was due to a clash of wills between my mother and myself. My early life was a series of fierce battles, from which my mother invariably emerged the victor.” He wrote of “constant defeats and the beatings with a cane.” He recalled that his mother ran all the family finances and “gave my father 10 shillings a week” and that “he was severely cross‐examined if he meekly asked for another shilling or two before the end of the week.”

At 14 he entered St. Paul's School in London, which was near home and much less expensive than Harrow or Eton. He entered the Royal Military College, now the Royal Military Academy, at Sandhurst in 1907.

His departure from Sandhurst narrowly missed being premature “when,” as he later recounted, “during the ragging of an unpopular cadet I set fire to the tail of his shirt as he was undressing: he got a badly burned behind, retired to the, hospital, and was unable to sit down in comfort for some time.”

Served in India

Second Lieutenant Montgomery was accepted by the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, whose cap badge he admired and whose mess bills were low. By the beginning of World War I in 1914 he was 26, had served in India and was a full lieutenant.

In action near Meteren at the first battle of Ypres early in the war, Lieutenant Montgomery, sword in hand, led his platoon in a charge. But, he explained later, he had never been taught to do anything with his sword except salute, and so he felled and captured his first German by kicking him in the groin.

Later in this fight Lieutenant Montgomery was shot through the chest. He survived only because one of his men who had come to help him was fatally shot and fell across him, thus protecting him from further bullets. The Distinguished Service Order was awarded to Lieutenant Montgomery for his courage and leadership on that day.

After the war he completed the course at the Staff College at Camberley in 1920.

Headed Third Division

At the beginning of World War II Major General Montgomery went to France in command of the Third Division.

Of the French‐British defeat that led to the evacuation at Dunkirk in 1940, Lord Montgomery wrote:

“The battle was lost before it began. The whole business was a complete ‘dog's breakfast.’”

He got his outfit out through Dunkirk in such relatively good shape that the Third Division was selected to receive reserve equipment, of which there existed in Britain at that time just enough for one division.

In 1942 Lieut. Gen. W. H. E. (Straffer) Gott was selected to command the Eighth Army in Egypt. He was killed in an airplane accident before he could assume his command and Lieutenant General Montgomery was ordered to fill the post.

He arrived in Cairo and arbitrarily took command of the Eighth Army two days before he had been authorizd to do so.

Revived Eighth Army

Once he had achieved command, General Montgomery set about revivifying the Eighth Army, which he said he found with its “tail down.” He chased officers and other ranks around in violent physical exercise. When he turned his pale gaze to look through an officer and said, “You're no use to me, no use at all,” the officer knew he was as good as on a boat headed for home.

Heedless of home front clamor for action, General Montgomery built up his force and battle equipment with care. His opponent, General Rommel, had inflicted serious reverses on a series of previous Eighth Army commanders.

The British were in the course of overwhelming General Rommel with a supply build‐up and the German knew that he had to bring the matter to the touch. He attacked, and General Montgomery defeated him. As the British commander put it, he “saw him off” at a shrewdly fought defensive battle in Alam Halfa. The stage was set for the battle of El Alamein.

On Oct. 23, 1942, after a strong air and artillery preparation, the British launched night assault from their positions in front of El Alamein. By Nov. 7 they had broken through and the world rang with the news of the desert victory. General Montgomery was made a full general and knighted.

The Eighth Army, directed from Cairo by Gen. Sir Harold Alexander (later a field marshal and Earl Alexander of Tunis) and in the field by General Montgomery, drove the Axis forces back from the gates of Egypt to Tripoli in 30 days. The Americans under General Eisenhower landed in North Africa to attack from the opposite direction.

U.S. Generals Irked

This brought the first clash of views between the British and American commanders. As one who had been doing so well, General Montgomery thought that resources allocated to the landing should have been placed at his disposal. He criticized the conduct of operations under General Eisenhower—unkindly in the opinion of Gen. Sir Francis de Guingand, General Montgomery's chief of staff. This had little effect on General Eisenhower but clearly irked Generals Bradley and Patton, and Americans commanding in Algeria and Tunisia. The pattern was to be repeated in Europe.

Few laurels were gained by General Montgomery or any other Allied commander in the capture of Sicily or in the dull plodding through Italy. General Montgomery bade farewell to his Eighth Army and went to England, where he exercised field command over the British and United States armed forces during the Allied landings in Normandy in 1944 and in the early stages of the fighting in France.

On D‐Day, June 6, 1944, British and United States forces stormed across the Normandy beaches. General Montgomery's British and Canadian forces were held near the landing places by the Germans longer than the United States forces were, a situation that General Montgomery said had been planned by the Allied strategists. Neither General Eisenhower nor General Bradley, commander of the assaulting United States forces, fully concurred in this interpretation of the battle plan.

During the 1944‐45 Battle of the Bulge in Belgium, General Eisenhower found it advisable for tactical purposes to place part of General Bradley's forces under Montgomery, now promoted to field marshal. When the German thrust failed Field Marshal Montgomery held a press conference in which he gave the impression that he had come to the rescue of the foundering United States Army, and not a minute too soon.

In his memoirs, General Eisenhower wrote:

“This incident caused me more distress than any similar one in the war. I doubt if Montgomery ever came to realize how deeply resentful some American commanders were.”

In his war recollections, General Bradley wrote:

“But Montgomery unfortunately could not resist the chance to tweak our Yankee noses. General Eisenhower held his tongue only by clenching his teeth.”

After V‐E Day, Field Marshal Montgomery was appointed commander in chief of the British Forces of Occupation, Military Governor of the British Zone of Occupied Germany and British member of the Allied Control Council of Germany. In June, 1946, he became Chief of the Imperial General Staff, the ranking uniformed post in the British Army. He had been elevated to the peerage as Viscount Montgomery of Alamein on Jan. 31, 1946.

Chief Deputy

When General Eisenhower was appointed commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces, Field Marshal Montgomery became his chief deputy, a post that he held until 1958.

Time mellowed Lord Montgomery very little. In June, 1964, in a radio broadcast linked with commemorative ceremonies in Normandy on the 20th anniversary of the D‐Day landings, he said that General Eisenhower, who had been in overall command of the operation, “never understood the Normandy strategy at all” and that “he got the whole thing muddled up.”

Lord Montgomery returned to this refrain in a supposed tribute on the death of General Eisenhower, referring again to the latter's alleged lack of understanding of the Normandy situation. But he added in warmer tones that the Supremo Commander, while “not a great soldier in the true sense of the word,” was “a great human being” whose qualities of patience and forbearing had “kept the peace between the warring tribes of generals and air barons.”

In 1927, when he was 39 years old and an instructor at the Staff College, Colonel Montgomery married Mrs. Oswald A. Carver, widow of an army captain killed in World War I. One son, David, was born to them. Mrs. Montgomery died in 1937.

Maud Montgomery


MAUD MONTGOMERY

Maud Montgomery


MAUD MONTGOMERY

MAUD MONTGOMERY, A VERY INDEPENDENT WOMAN

Maud Montgomery.jpg
 

Maud Montgomery (1865-1949)

Maud was the third daughter of the eminent English clergyman, preacher and author, Frederic William Farrar. She was known to maintain resolutely a wide range of domestic, diocesan and philanthropic responsibilities.

Her father was housemaster of Maud's future husband, Henry, at Harrow School before becoming Canon of Westminster Abbey and subsequently Dean of Canterbury before his death in 1903. She was said to have inherited her father's concern for moral righteousness and an ability in public speaking.

Maud became engaged to Henry at the age of 14 and married before turning seventeen in King Henry VII's chapel in Westminster Abbey in July 1881. Henry was seventeen years older than Maud. Her mother, Lucy Mary Cardew, married at the age of nineteen.

Her husand's salary was little enough for the upbringing of what was to become a family of six boys and two girls. Her strength of will and powers of organisation came to the fore on arrival in Tasmania on 23 October 1889 after a 6 week journey by sea.

On 18 November, less than a month after their arrival in Hobart, their eldest daughter, Sybil Frances, dies aged seven years. They buried her within walk of Bishopscourt in the upper part of Queenborough Cemetery, Sandy Bay (now The Hutchins School). For Maud, this was a very severe test. With her husband frequently away, she was often alone. Henry was proud of her dogged commitment to Tasmania: she gave up looking back and rooted herself in her new home. Few did it so completely, Henry claimed in his memoirs.

She continued to impose a strict routine on all the children, having begun this in Kennington and maintained it on the long voyage to Hobart.

Read more about Family Life in the Late 19th century

"With her usual organisational ability, our mother had arranged for tutors to come from England and take over the job of teaching her children, who were rapidly growing up, as well as children of certain close friends in Hobart or nearby. She had an extra room built on to Bishopscourt which served as a school room. The Bishop’s salary was £1,000 a year, which in those times, apparently sufficed for all needs.”  

Brian Montgomery, Monty a Life in Photographs 1985

Read about Monty, the Black Sheep, and his Mother

Lady Hamilton, Maud Montgomery and the Nil Desperandum Society

Lady Hamilton Society.jpg

The Hamilton Literary Society is the oldest continuing literary society in Australia. It was established in 1889 by Lady Hamilton, wife of the Governor of Tasmania, Sir Robert Hamilton. Well-educated and forceful, she was imbued with new ideas of the activities suitable for women. 

Her husband, Sir Robert Hamilton, having become 'tainted by sympathy for Irish home rule' as Secretary to the Irish Administration in Dublin, was removed from this position and instead, at the age of 50, was made Governor of Tasmania (his wife was then 35) in 1887 until 1892. Hamilton seems a quiet, pleasant figure. He much enjoyed pottering in the gardens of Government House, clipping the hedges and lying in a hammock.

In July 1889, Lady Hamilton invited 25 women to tea at Government House to form a society with the aim of fostering an interest in literature. Originally called the Nil Desperandum Society, it became, on her departure, and with her approval, the Hamilton Literary Society as it is today. The President of the Society is by tradition the wife of the current Governor of Tasmania. Membership is limited to thirty.

Members invited were serious young women who were challenged by Lady Hamilton herself to serious endeavour. Maud Montgomery attended her first meeting on 13 June 1890 at Government House.

The 24th meeting of the society was held at Bishopscourt. Seven our of the eight women present disapproved of Ladies taking part with Gentlemen in the game of cricket. Three more meetings were held at Bishopscourt, culminating in a gathering on 23 October 1890 at which Mrs Montgomery read a paper on her father's account of the Oberammergau Passion Play. 'It proved too much for most' of the twenty-one women there, six of which were married. The meeting terminated after a very short debate.

Maud Montgomery next attended the 31st meeting on 27 November 1890 at Government House. The topic 'Passion Plays of the Middle Ages' found participants better prepared. The paper was followed by a 'very animated discussion as to the advisability of introducing sacred plays as a means of educating children'. Maud was an active contributor.

Mrs Montgomery never attended another meeting and by 1894 was no longer listed as a member of the society. Part of the reason may be explained by the 'grand quarrel that arose between Lady Hamilton and the Dobsons' around early 1891. Ethel Dobson, daughter of Sir Lambert Dobson, Chief Justice of Tasmania and a leading churchman, wrote a letter of apology to the society's secretary, a letter which Lady Hamilton considered insulting. Maud Montgomery unsuccessfully tried to make peace. Ultimately, Lady Hamilton aked those who defended Ms Dobson resign. Ten did so. Attempts at reconciliation were never fully successful. Read more about 'Showdown at Government House' here.

MAUD MONTGOMERY’S HONEYMOON IN IRELAND 1881

As they came up the drive, Maud Montgomery had somewhat mixed feelings about her reception and how she should conduct herself at her husband’s home. She had of course seen much of her parents-in-law in London and she was very fond of Sir Robert who she regarded as a charming old gentleman. But she was terribly in awe of her mother-in-law, Lady Montgomery. The latter is on record as saying that ‘she could do nothing with Henry’s young bride who, in her view, was too proud and stiff’.

Read more about Maud Montgomery's Honeymoon in Ireland

 
 

Family Life in 19th Century


Family Life in 19th Century


Montgomery Family Life at Bishopscourt - Late 19th Century Ways

The family sailed for Hobart early in September of 1889 in the Shaw Saville liner the S.S. Tainui. She was a small four-masted vessel of about six thousand tons, with one tall smoke stack, and took six weeks to complete the voyage of some twelve thousand miles, round the Cape of Good Hope, to Tasmania. The children had to do lessons every morning in the saloon with their mother — except Bernard, who was then not yet two years of age, and Una, still a baby in arms. When the Tainui cast anchor in the beautiful harbour of Hobart, on the twenty-third of October, a new venture for them all began.

Bishopscourt Tea Party.png

At first it was a tremendous shock, especially for the Bishop and his young wife, as everything was so completely different from the life, and the people, they had known in London or in Ireland. There was only one choice open to the whole family, they decided. This was, as far as possible, to forget completely everything about their past life, and become `Colonials' (now a long-outmoded word) and Tasmanian, in thought and outlook. But there was to be one very strong exception to this policy. None of them were to be allowed, under any circumstances, to adopt a Tasmanian accent. It was Mother who insisted absolutely on observance of this rule, and swift retribution awaited any member of the family who broke it—especially if the breaking was deliberate mimicry or otherwise mischievous! She attained her object apparently for no member of the family has ever shown evidence, by accent, of having lived long in Australia.

It goes also almost without saying that Mother continued to impose a strict routine on all the children. She had begun this at Kennington, and maintained it on the long voyage to Hobart, so it became the natural order of things to include it in the new era which now began. It was the type of routine to which we all became accustomed and which, broadly, remained in force, even for adults, in every house of which mother was the mistress, throughout her life.

The day began, and ended, with family prayers as it had at Dean's Yard, and everybody, servants and guests included, had to attend. After breakfast the girls made the beds, the boys cleaned the shoes, and adults were expected to look after themselves, unless mother had organised something for all.

The children had lessons in the morning with games or exercise of some kind in the afternoon. Later in life, especially in Ireland, she added another very strict rule. Everybody had to be out of the house between two and four o'clock in the afternoon, so that she could rest undisturbed by noise or interruption of any kind. It did not matter where you went or what you did as long as you were not in the house, though if you remained in the garden you must make no noise that could reach her. The Bishop was the only exception to this rule, though he, very willingly on his part, had to remain in his study.

Meanwhile at Hobart, with her usual organising ability, Mother had arranged for tutors to come from England and take over the whole job of teaching the children, who were rapidly growing up. The arrival of these tutors gave her more freedom to devote her attention to the many and varied activities of a Colonial bishop's wife. Fortunately Bishopscourt, their home in Hobart, was a large rambling building with a big garden, well suited to her purpose. She had an additional room built, outside the house, which served as a school where not only her own children were taught, but also those of certain close friends in or near Hobart. One of the boys who came was Andrew Holden, the son of Doctor Holden who was father's closest friend in Tasmania. Much later, Andrew married my elder sister Una.

The boys of the school had the charge of the schoolroom, taking their turn weekly to keep it clean, light the fire, chop the wood and generally maintain it. Here too they got their own evening meal, and for this purpose the boy in charge for the week was given half a crown to spend on 'extras' over and above what the cook provided.

One boy would spend the whole sum on cake or biscuits, whilst another bought tinned salmon and persuaded the cook to make it up into fish cakes. The future Field-Marshal, on one occasion when his turn came round, discovered, with due regard for economy, some cheap eggs. He announced, to the great amusement of his parents but the dismay of his fellows, that he was providing `reduced eggs' ! Although all the children had to submit to Mother's routine and sense of order it should not be thought they were unhappy or discontented in Tasmania. On the contrary they loved it all, especially the constant outdoor life, the picnics, riding, fishing and the like.

 

MAUD MONTGOMERY’S HONEYMOON IN IRELAND 1881


MAUD MONTGOMERY’S HONEYMOON IN IRELAND 1881


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MAUD MONTGOMERY’S HONEYMOON IN IRELAND 1881

As they came up the drive, Maud Montgomery had somewhat mixed feelings about her reception and how she should conduct herself at her husband’s home. She had of course seen much of her parents-in-law in London and she was very fond of Sir Robert who she regarded as a charming old gentleman. But she was terribly in awe of her mother-in-law, Lady Montgomery. The latter is on record as saying that ‘she could do nothing with Henry’s young bride who, in her view, was too proud and stiff’.

The truth however was that young Maud was consumed with shyness in the presence of her mother-in-law. After all she was wholly inexperienced and had scarcely attended any social functions; she was far too young to have been a debutante at the London season which had just ended. It is therefore not surprising that she felt somewhat apprehensive on her first arrival at New Park with her newly wed husband. Both were rather tired as on the steamer they had been called at five o’clock.

The manner of their reception at New Park is best told in her own words, written many years later.

‘Williams the butler received us solemnly at the front door and ushered us into the dining room where tea and bread and butter were ready for us. No one else appeared. We were then shown up into the best spare room and went to bed.

Porridge, not tea, was brought up to every bedroom at 8 a.m. with little jugs of milk which were filled over night so that there was a coating of cream on the top. The most of the house party all went down to the sea to bathe (it was much too cold for me) after porridge. The ladies had baths in their rooms. There was no bathroom at New Park in those days and no hot water supply. All the hot water was heated in a huge copper pail which hung over the fireplace in the room which we now call the Nursery, but was then the Servants’ Hall. From there it was carried by the house maids to each bedroom in use, where every guest had a hot bath in her room every morning.

Breakfast was at nine o’clock and I came down overcome with shyness to meet my dreaded mother-in-law, and a house full of guests. On that first morning I was wearing a very pretty pink dress, part of my trousseau which I had kept for this occasion. However my feelings were much hurt when my mother-in-law said to me: “Did your mother tell you to put on that pink dress the first morning?”

The post always arrived while we were at breakfast. The post-man was seen walking up the drive, but there was no scramble for the letters as there was at Dean’s Yard. They were brought solemnly into the room by the footman and handed round by the butler. I often recall the formality of lunch and dinner at New Park which were great functions in those days; I remember being impressed by the large plum cake which was always handed round after lunch. Personally this suited me because at afternoon tea in the drawing room, always laid on the table in the bow window, you were not supposed to eat much! I don’t think my mother-in-law could have approved of me in those days because I loved to tramp over the hills, with Henry, in short skirts and thick boots and I refused to wear gloves.

Above all I hated to be taken out in the afternoons to pay formal calls. The carriage used to go out every afternoon with Lady Montgomery sitting in it in solemn state—as I expect she did in India. Of course I had to return the calls which were made on me and I shocked her by coming into the drawing room one day and saying: “Isn’t it splendid? We have paid six calls and five of them were out!” The evenings were very formal; I do not remember that we ever had a fire and there was no music, but games were allowed and I was first taught to play whist there. I played very badly and would not give my attention to it, preferring to laugh and talk. I think my mother-in-law must have compared me most unfavourably with Henry’s sister, Lucy, who was then twenty-five and as yet unmarried. I remember Lucy took no part in any games and when the bell rang for evening prayers she always went and sat demurely by her mother on the sofa with drooping head and folded hands. Everyone in the house, including the servants, had to assemble for family prayers in the drawing room twice daily—before breakfast at nine o’clock and again before dinner. Another custom which, as a young girl, I found very strange was the fact that every night I was always solemnly escorted to my bedroom by my mother-in-law and Lucy. The men always came to bed later.’

This account shows clearly some of the difficulties my mother must have encountered on her first visit to the Montgomery family home. She was a bride of only a week, approaching her seventeenth birthday, childish and immature and oppressed by what appeared to her as the grandeur and style of New Park as it then was. But she loved Ireland and the Irish and early on conceived a passion for Lough Foyle and the Donegal hills.

The best part of the day for her, to she said, often began at sunset when she and Henry went out pollock-fishing on the lough with the local boatmen. This had the added advantage that they escaped the solemn late dinner at New Park, and were able to bribe the butler to give them something to eat on their return.

For Maud also these summer months of her honeymoon were the prelude to her own assumption of family responsibilities. Family planning in any form, except abstinence, was quite unknown in those days. Besides, for young couples like Henry and Maud children came from God and contraception would be a violation of their religious principles. My mother had her first baby one month after her eighteenth birthday, and thereafter children arrived at two-year intervals until after her fifth was born. There was then a gap of six years after which she had four more children. In the years that followed her first visit to Moville Maud came to know her mother-in-law very well and they eventually became great friends. She also made many friends locally with people in all walks of life. These varied from the tenants on the Montgomery property to other families, like our own, who had houses along the shores of the Foyle and the Swilly.

A Field Marshall in the Family, Brian Montgomery (2010)

Beattie, Australia's Photographer


Beattie, Australia's Photographer


John BEATTIE, AuSTRALIA'S FINEST LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHER

 Bishop Montgomery and John Beattie, Australia’s finest landscape photographer of his time, were close friends.

Bishop Montgomery and John Beattie, Australia’s finest landscape photographer of his time, were close friends.

 

John Watt Beattie (1859–1930)

John Watt Beattie, photographer and antiquarian, was born on 15 August 1859 at Aberdeen, Scotland, son of John Beattie, master house-painter and photographer, and his wife Esther Imlay, née Gillivray.

Bishop Montgomery and John Beattie, Australia’s finest landscape photographer of his time, were close friends.

After a grammar-school education, Beattie migrated with his parents and brother in 1878, and struggled to clear a farm in the Derwent Valley, Tasmania. He soon turned to his life’s work. From 1879 he made many photographic expeditions into the bush, becoming a full-time professional in 1882 in partnership with Anson Bros whom he bought out in 1891. Gifted with both physical zeal and craftsman skills, he probably did more than anyone to shape the accepted visual image of Tasmania. An admirer of William Piguenit, Beattie stressed the same wildly romantic aspects of the island’s beauty. His work included framed prints, postcards, lantern-slides and albums, and was the basis for a popular and pleasing set of Tasmanian pictorial stamps (in print 1899-1912).

In the 1890s Beattie broadened his entrepreneurial work. His museum of art and artefacts became one of Hobart’s sights and showed his enthusiasm for local history. Convictism at Port Arthur and the Aboriginals were conspicuous among his interests, but he gathered and dealt in all kinds of material (including gossip). He was appointed the colony’s official photographer in 1896, and thereafter worked hard in support of tourism. His own illustrated lectures had much success, and he prepared sets of slides (with solid, informed commentary) for wider distribution. Tasmania’s promise of health and minerals ranked high in this propaganda.

Making a business of Tasmaniana never corrupted Beattie. While sometimes over-imaginative in historical reconstructions with pen and camera, he had a scholarly sense. His accounts of Port Arthur, for example, steered between sensation and sentimentality, and he confronted the horror of European-Tasmanian relations. ‘For about 30 years this ancient people held their ground bravely against the invaders of their beautiful domain’, he wrote of the Aboriginals. While supporting and investing in the development of minerals, Beattie also urged conservation of fauna and flora. Among his attachments were the Minerva Club, wherein Hobart’s liberal intellectuals gathered around Andrew Inglis Clark, and he joined Bishop Henry Montgomery and Professor William Brown in establishing the historical and geographical section of the Royal Society of Tasmania in 1899. The society had elected Beattie to a fellowship in 1890, and he gave the key-note historical address at the Tasmanian centenary celebrations of 1904 (published as Glimpses of the Lives and Times of the Early Tasmanian Governors).

An opportunity for exotic photography came in late 1906 when Beattie toured the Western Pacific, including Norfolk Island. In 1912 Roald Amundsen entrusted him with developing plates taken on the first trek to the South Pole. Thereafter, highlights came fewer, and family portraits thicker, although Beattie retained his various interests. In 1927 the Launceston Corporation paid £4500 for much of his collection, which remains in the Queen Victoria Museum; after his death, further items (many slides, and objects relating to Port Arthur and the Pacific) went to the Tasmanian Museum, Hobart. The business he established survived in 1978, still selling his work.

A fine-looking man, Beattie was likeable if volatile. Jack Cato, a kinsman and pupil, declared him not only ‘the finest landscape photographer of his age’ but also ‘by far the best known man in the island, and the most popular’. Montgomery was more subtle, although hardly less admiring: ‘All you say of your struggles and hopes reminds me of the old Beattie! Your life consists of much keener joys than most people enjoy—and you must put up with gloom too’ (1907). Beattie’s long commitment to theosophy, dating from the foundation of a lodge in Hobart in the early 1890s, may be explained by his romanticism, but was later tempered by membership of the Methodist Church.

He died suddenly of heart disease in Hobart on 24 June 1930, survived by his wife Emily Cox, née Cato, member of a long-settled Tasmanian family, whom he had married in 1886, and by their two daughters. His estate was valued for probate at £871.

 

Lady Hamilton


Lady Hamilton


Lady Teresa Hamilton, the Outspoken Governor's Wife

 

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Teresa Hamilton arrived in Tasmania in March 1887, when her husband, Sir Robert Hamilton, became Governor. She undertook the social activities expected of the governor's wife with panache but, being a forceful lady, she was imbued with new ideas of the activities suitable for women, such as were becoming popular in Britain. 

Sir Robert, having become 'tainted by sympathy for Irish home rule' as Secretary to the Irish Administration in Dublin, was removed from this position and instead, at the age of 50, was made Governor of Tasmania (his wife was then 35) in 1887 until 1892. Hamilton seems a quiet, pleasant figure. He much enjoyed pottering in the gardens of Government House, clipping the hedges and lying in a hammock.

When Maud Montgomery arrived in 1889 as wife of the Bishop of Tasmania, their paths started to cross and ultimately the two strong-minded women end up not seeing eye to eye.

Lady Hamilton arranged, sometimes even delivered herself, lectures on health, diet, sanitation, first aid, nursing and hygiene, open to women of all classes. She formed the Nursing Band which later became the District Nursing Association and involved herself in a women's refuge home, education for girls, sanitary reform and temperance activity. Other interests were women's sport, art and the still-existing Hamilton Literary Society which met at Bishopscourt a number of times in 1890. In two areas she encouraged women to influence public opinion and try to change laws. Teresa Hamilton left Tasmania with its structure much as it had been before her arrival, but with women of all classes shown how to play a more active role in that structure. 

Sanitation and Public Health

Shortly after Teresa Hamilton arrived in the colony, in September 1887, she delivered an address to the women of the colony, on the topic "Sanitation and Public Health".

"To speak in public for the sake of speaking is nor my habit", she said, but she would not be doing her duty as the wife of the Governor if she did not help him improve the colony's health. Their son had had typhoid, and nursing him inspired her to act. She urged women to co-operate with her and learn to nurse intelligently and help stop typhoid spreading. "The situation cries for reform." People must appeal to the City Council to act, and to builders of houses. Mothers should burn all impurities, ventilate rooms, and clean stagnant gutters in front of houses. 

The St John's Ambulance Brigade was established in Hobart in 1887, and from 1889, at the instigation of Teresa Hamilton, held lectures on first aid and nursing. The eight lectures cost three shillings.

 In 1891, she gave a series to the Young Women's Christian Association on Health, Hygiene, Food and Clothing. She explained to her audiences the difference between nitrogenous and carbonaceous food, and urged a balanced diet of fruit and vegetables, meat, grains, cheese and milk puddings and the avoidance of unwholesome food. She condemned alcohol, and spoke about digestion and "banting" (slimming).

Hamilton Literary Society and the Showdown at Government House

The association for which Teresa Hamilton is best known, probably because it bears her name, is the still-existing Hamilton Literary Society. In July 1889, she invited a number of ladies to Government House to form a literary group, which she named, rather condescendingly, the Nil Desperandum Society. In August 1890, Teresa Hamilton entertained about a hundred women at Government House to celebrate the Society's first anniversary, but trouble soon arose. In the following summer, Hobart was packed with visitors, including six naval ships, and Teresa Hamilton gave the most glamorous ball the city had ever seen. 

Not surprisingly, the January meeting of the Nil Desperandum Society was sparsely attended, and in the next month a full-scale argument erupted with Maud Montgomery trying to act as peacemaker. This culminated in a showdown and mass resignations in February 1891. Read about 'Showdown at Government House' here.

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The Final Days of Lady Hamilton in Hobart

In the week before she left, Teresa Hamilton certainly undertook a variety of activities, as well as supervising the packing of a large household after a residence of six years.

She also personally supervised the decoration of the Government House reception rooms with maidenhair fern and scarlet cacti. This was done in preparation for a large reception at Government House, to which a thousand people came (including Lady Dobson, Miss E. Dobson, the Misses Walker, ].B. Walker, but not the Maults). Five hundred and fifty shook hands with the Hamiltons, "all anxious to say farewell to the most generally popular Governor and Governor's wife we have had for many years". The  viceregal couple was presented with an address from the City Council, in which Lady Hamilton's "unostentatious charity, benevolence, and bright example" were praised, and later she was presented with addresses from the women of southern, then northern, Tasmania.

The southern women, organised by a committee which was headed by Lady Dobson and Mrs Montgomery, collected money to present Teresa Hamilton with a diamond ring, but she intimated that she could not accept so handsome a present. So she received a gold bangle, and the rest of the money went to the Benevolent Society. The presentation and the commitree's words of gratitude for her "work amongst us" so affected Teresa Hamilton that she found some difficulty in replying; then she thanked the ladies, and said that her activities were done from a sense of duty first and pleasure afterwards, and that she had made so many friends that she would always look back on her Tasmanian years with delight.

This was only a year after the Literary Club quarrel, but either everyone was conscious of saying the right thing, or they had indeed come to admire Teresa Hamilton's qualities.

The Nil Desperandum Society


The Nil Desperandum Society


Showdown at Government House - the Nil Desperandum Society

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The Hamilton Literary Society is the oldest continuing literary society in Australia. It was established in 1889 by Lady Teresa Hamilton, wife of the Governor of Tasmania, Sir Robert Hamilton. Well-educated and forceful, she was imbued with new ideas of the activities suitable for women. 

In July 1889, Lady Hamilton invited 25 women to tea at Government House to form a society with the aim of fostering an interest in literature. Originally called the Nil Desperandum Society, it became, on her departure, and with her approval, the Hamilton Literary Society as it is today. The President of the Society is by tradition the wife of the current Governor of Tasmania. Membership is limited to thirty.

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Members invited were serious young women who were challenged by Lady Hamilton herself to serious endeavour. Maud Montgomery, wife of Bishop Montgomery, attended her first meeting on 13 June 1890 at Government House. A number of meetings were subsequently held at Bishopscourt, before the big falling out in early 1891.

Lady Hamilton later commented that the society was formed for "mutual pleasure and intellectual profit". Learning to think and judge is a form of education we all need, she wrote, and to get out of our grooves is profitable. She chose the subjects and the speakers, and each member was given a topic, on which she presented a paper at one of the fortnightly meetings at Government House. Other members then discussed the paper. There was a great variety of topics, from "Manners Maketh Man" to Trade Unions. One member, Sarah Walker commented in her letters that friends of hers thought the society "will be very good", though the members were a "funny mixture". She was asked to join and wrote unenthusiastically, "I suppose I had better". In August 1890, Teresa Hamilton entertained about a hundred women at Government House to celebrate the Society's first anniversary but trouble soon arose.

The 24th meeting of the society was held at Bishopscourt. Seven out of the eight women present disapproved of Ladies taking part with Gentlemen in the game of cricket. Three more meetings were held at Bishopscourt, culminating in a gathering on 23 October 1890 at which Mrs Montgomery read a paper on her father's account of the Oberammergau Passion Play, a controversial passion play performed since 1634 as a tradition by the inhabitants of the village of Oberammergau, Bavaria, Germany. 'It proved too much for most' of the twenty-one women there, six of which were married. The meeting terminated after a very short debate.

Maud Montgomery next attended the 31st meeting on 27 November 1890 at Government House. The topic 'Passion Plays of the Middle Ages' found participants better prepared. The paper was followed by a 'very animated discussion as to the advisability of introducing sacred plays as a means of educating children'. Maud was an active contributor.

Mrs Montgomery never attended another meeting and by 1894 was no longer listed as a member of the society. Part of the reason may be explained by the 'grand quarrel that arose between Lady Hamilton and the Dobsons' around early 1891. Ethel Dobson, daughter of Sir Lambert Dobson, Chief Justice of Tasmania and a leading churchman, wrote a letter of apology to the society's secretary, a letter which Lady Hamilton considered insulting. Maud Montgomery unsuccessfully tried to make peace. Ultimately, Lady Hamilton aked those who defended Ms Dobson resign. Ten did so. Attempts at reconciliation were never fully successful. 

Showdown with Lady Hamilton - the summer of 1891

In the summer of December 1890 - January 1891, Hobart was packed with visitors, including six naval ships, and Teresa Hamilton gave the most glamorous ball the city had ever seen. 

Not surprisingly, the January meeting of the Nil Desperandum Society was sparsely attended, and in the next month a full-scale argument erupted. "There is a grand quarrel berween Lady H. and the Dobsons," wrote Sarah Walker. Ethel Dobson, daughter of Sir Lambert Dobson, wrote the society's secretary a note, which Teresa Hamilton considered insulting, though the secretary, Miss Patty Mault, thought it was an ordinary note of apology. (Patty came from the family who "worshipped the aristocracy".) 

Teresa Hamilton demanded Ethel's resignation, Ethel said she did not think she had done anything wrong, and though Patty Mault begged her not to continue the quarrel, "Her Excellency was obstinate". Sarah Walker thought her "very foolish and undignified", and put the quarrel down to the "never friendly feeling" between the Hamiltons and the Dobsons, and the low attendance in January, which had annoyed Teresa Hamilton, who thought it was due to a rush after officers. 

Maud Montgomery, Bishop Montgomery's wife, tried to make peace, but "Lady H. does not love Mrs M. - she is too independent", so her attempts did no good. Meanwhile Ethel Dobson made matters worse with a second letter, written with help from her father. It was held to be in bad taste, "very Dobsony", but Sarah Walker thought that Teresa Hamilton's course was "altogether out of proportion to the offence".

At the next, very tense, meeting the matter was discussed. Only two of the 17 members were on Teresa Hamilton's side, but she told the meeting that all who thought Ethel Dobson had been harshly treated should resign. Ten did so, the younger ones going up "white & trembling like martyrs to the stake. You know they stand in great awe of Lady H. and she has been very kind to some of them". 

Patty Mault asked Teresa Hamilton whether her own daughter would not have asked her father's help in such a situation, and she replied, "Big as she is I would have her whipped", and looked furious enough to have struck Miss Patty in the face, Maud Montgomery told Sarah. "It was rather dreadful was it not?" Sarah commented. She added, "Her Excel1ency told them what they owed to her & the courtesy due to her from her position & Miss Patty said Lady Hamilton is it not from you we look for it before all others ... Of course Lady H. will never forgive any of them". 

Later, Sarah had a chance of finding out the inside story. She and her friend Poppy Clarke walked to Government House to say how do you do to Lady Hamilton, who insisted on them having coffee. She "dismissed the servants & drew up our chairs & was settling down to a long narrative when to our extreme annoyance in walked Mr & Mrs James", who stayed until it was time to go home, so Sarah never did hear Teresa Hamilton's explanation. "Both [Poppy] and I had been wanting to hear what she had to say."

There was a reconciliation, then another "bust up", and Teresa Hamilton returned the subscriptions of those who had resigned, to their fury. A dance at Government House in April was poorly attended, and finally in May the hatchet was buried. The Literary Society continued, and in 1892 was still meeting fortnightly at Government House and discussing such topics as the works of Rudyard Kipling (with animated debate for and against), and "There's Nothing like Leather".

When Teresa Hamilton departed from Tasmania, she chose a committee to run the society, which, the next year, was renamed the Hamilton Literary Society in her honour. By the time of her death in 1932, it was a venerable body, the oldest existing such society in Australia. 

Source

Collegiate


Collegiate


WW2 Hero, Monty, and the Pioneering Girls' School

At the end of the 1880s the population of Hobart was approximately 25,000 and growing both by birth and immigration. Only six schools served a student population of approximately 3000.

Dean Dundas controversially proposed a Sisterhood should undertake women’s work in the Diocese. The need for social and educational work in Tasmania was eventually recognized and the Dean and Bishop Montgomery ‘sold’ the Sisterhood to the Diocese for general ‘home mission’ work. The Sisters had other ideas though and were determined that their role would be in the creation of a school.

After departing Kilburn, England on August 4 1892, seven Sisters of the Church arrived in Hobart aboard the RMS Coptic. They were welcomed by Dean Dundas and the Lord Mayor of Hobart. Sisters May, Lucy, Hannah, Rose, Irene, Bridget and Phyllis were accompanied by Miss Lang, Miss Roche, Lily Gardner and five orphans – Linette, Mary, Ethel, Alice and Nettie.

The name ‘The Collegiate School’ was adopted on 30 July 1893. Bishop Montgomery visited the School and enrolled his own sons and by the end of the same year there were 67 students on the register.

Sister Phyllis decided the School would move from St David’s and be established in its own right at Stephenville, one of the most gracious buildings in Hobart and previously the home of the Hobart Ladies College. With the Bishop’s approval, Mrs Montgomery arranged the mortgage. Officially opened on 27 July 1895, students included six boarders, with boys classrooms behind the hall and separate recess time allocated. ‘Collegiate School’ was painted on the stone outside Stephenville.

The ‘boys department’ was discontinued at the end of 1898, however the boys were not forgotten and the careers of those who fought in World War I were traced in the magazines and several kept in touch with Sister. One went on to play a pivotal role in World War II, Monty of El Alamein, finding himself leading the British 8th Army and the Australian 9th Division at the Battle of El Alamein.

 Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister at the time, said of this victory: 
"Now this is not the end; it is not even the beginning of the end."

Henry Hunter


Henry Hunter


The Prominent Architect and The Dodgy Cathedral
that had to be...ERR... Rebuilt

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Henry Hunter (1832-1892)

Henry Hunter was a prominent architect and civil servant in Tasmania and Queensland, Australia. He is best known for his work on churches (24 in Tasmania). In 1877, he designed major changes to Bishopscourt: furthest left in the image below. By 1889, work was underway to pull down the lower section and rebuild.

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Henry Hunter was born in Nottingham, England, younger son of Walter Hunter, architect. He studied architecture under his father and then at the Nottingham School of Design under T. S. Hammersley. Henry and his three sisters migrated to South Australia in 1848 with Walter and Tomasina and, after their parents died, to Hobart Town where they joined the eldest brother, George, who died on 31 October 1868.

Henry went to the Bendigo goldfields and raised funds to pay his family's debts in Adelaide. Back in Tasmania he worked at Port Esperance in the timber trade on his own account and as manager for John Balfe. He moved to Hobart probably to a stationer's business but in 1856, encouraged by Catholic Bishop Robert Wilson, he began to practise as an architect.

Among his earliest commissions was St Peter's Hall, Lower Collins Street, and in the next thirty years he designed such ecclesiastical buildings as All Saints Church, Macquarie Street; the Church of the Apostles, Launceston; the Mariners' Church, Franklin Wharf; Church of the Sacred Heart, New Town; the Presentation Convent, Hobart; the Deanery, Macquarie Street, and St David's Sunday school. He was supervising architect for St David's Cathedral, planned by Bodley & Garner, London.

On 12 September 1860 Wilson laid the foundation stone of St Mary's Cathedral, Hobart, adapted from William Wardell's design; as supervising architect Hunter carried out the work with 'integrity, honesty and zeal'. Bishop Daniel Murphy opened the cathedral on 4 July 1866, but the construction was faulty and the pillars of the central tower began to move as the foundations settled, and stone fell from the arches. Hunter and Major Goodfellow examined the work and recommended that the cathedral be rebuilt. A public meeting in February 1876 decided that the central tower, aisles and walls be demolished and rebuilt according to the original plan. Hunter, now Hobart's most successful architect, supervised the demolition but deemed it unwise to attempt the suggested repairs. In 1878 the foundation stone was laid for a new cathedral designed by him.

At an inquiry by Bishop Murphy into the failure of the earlier building, Hunter claimed he had not supervised the work because of other commitments and blamed the contractor, John Young. Certainly Hunter's services had been in heavy demand but he had issued payment certificates to Young and neglected to employ a clerk of works to guard his principal's interests. Young had been badly served by his foreman but no blame was attached to Wardell who in preparing the designs had noted that he could not advise on suitable foundations.

Hunter prepared plans and was awarded first premium in a competition conducted by the Hobart Municipal Council for a town hall. His design was acclaimed a fine composition of unusual breadth and unity of line but was not accepted. His design for the Hobart Museum won a competition in 1860 and construction began next year. Two years later he was commissioned to build municipal offices. He designed and built the Derwent and Tamar Assurance Offices, the Masonic Hall, Hobart, and the Australian Mutual Provident Society's Building. He planned wards and other offices for the General Hospital and designed many schools for the Board of Education; warehouses, the Marine Office and a 'picturesque grandstand' at Elwick race-course were among other buildings entrusted to his care. In 1876 he revised costs for capital works at two Hobart gaols.

The Henry Hunter Prize for Architect is a prize awarded triennially to architectural projects that involve the "recycling or conservation of historic buildings". The Henry Hunter Galleries, the main permanent art exhibition at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery are also named in his honour. A collection of 1800 of his architectural drawings and notes are held by the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

 Side elevation as designed by Henry Hunter

Side elevation as designed by Henry Hunter

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 Ground floor plan pre-Henry Hunter

Ground floor plan pre-Henry Hunter

Trivia


Trivia


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