Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery

Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery (17 November 1887-24 March 1976), 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, KG, GCB, DSO, PC, DL, 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 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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Montgomery in a Grant tank in North Africa, November 1942.

During the Second World War he 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. He 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. The failed airborne attempt to bridge the Rhine at Arnhem in Holland was with 21st Army Group personnel, however was successful with a subsequent Allied Rhine crossing. When German armoured forces attacked American lines in the Battle of the Bulge forcing them to retreat, Montgomery was given command of the US First Army and the US Ninth Army, stopping the German advance and sending them into reverse. On 4 May 1945 he took the German surrender at Lüneburg Heath in Northern Germany.

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.

Early life

Montgomery was born in Kennington, Surrey, in 1887, the fourth child of nine, to an Ulster-Scots Church of Ireland minister, The Reverend Henry Montgomery, and his wife, Maud (née Farrar). The Montgomerys, an ‘Ascendancy’ gentry family, were the County Donegal branch of the Clan Montgomery. Henry Montgomery, at that time Vicar of St Mark’s Church, Kennington, was the second son of Sir Robert Montgomery, a native of Inishowen in County Donegal in Ulster, the noted colonial administrator in British India, who died a month after his grandson’s birth. He was probably a descendant of Colonel Alexander Montgomery(1686–1729). Bernard’s mother, Maud, was the daughter of The V. Rev. Frederic William Canon Farrar, the famous preacher, and was eighteen years younger than her husband.[11] After the death of Sir Robert Montgomery, Henry inherited the Montgomery ancestral estate of New Park in Moville in Inishowen in Ulster. There was still £13,000 to pay on a mortgage, a large debt in the 1880s, and Henry was at the time still only an Anglican vicar. Despite selling off all the farms that were at Ballynally, “there was barely enough to keep up New Park and pay for the blasted summer holiday” (i.e., at New Park).

It was a financial relief of some magnitude when, in 1889, Henry was made Bishop of Tasmania, then still a British colony and Bernard spent his formative years there. Bishop Montgomery considered it his duty to spend as much time as possible in the rural areas of Tasmania and was away for up to six months at a time. While he was away, his wife, still in her mid-twenties, gave her children “constant” beatings”, then ignored them most of the time as she performed the public duties of the bishop’s wife. Of Bernard’s siblings, Sibyl died prematurely in Tasmania, and Harold, Donald and Una all emigrated. Maud Montgomery took little active interest in the education of her young children other than to have them taught by tutors brought from Britain. The loveless environment made Bernard something of a bully, as he himself recalled, “I was a dreadful little boy. I don’t suppose anybody would put up with my sort of behaviour these days. Later in life Montgomery refused to allow his son David to have anything to do with his grandmother, and refused to attend her funeral in 1949.

The family returned to England once for a Lambeth Conference in 1897, and Bernard and his brother Harold were educated for a term at The King’s School, Canterbury. In 1901, Bishop Montgomery became secretary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, and the family returned to London. Montgomery attended St Paul’s School and then the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, from which he was almost expelled for rowdiness and violence. On graduation in September 1908 he was commissioned into the 1st Battalion the Royal Warwickshire Regiment as a second lieutenant, and first saw overseas service later that year in India. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1910, and in 1912 became adjutant of the 1st Battalion of his regiment at Shorncliffe Army Camp.

First World War

The Great War began in August 1914 and Montgomery moved to France with his battalion that month, which was at the time part of the 10th Brigade of the 4th Division. He saw action at the Battle of Le Cateau that month and during the retreat from Mons. At Méteren, near the Belgian border at Bailleul on 13 October 1914, during an Allied counter-offensive, he was shot through the right lung by a sniper. Montgomery was hit once more, in the knee. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for gallant leadership: the citation for this award, published in the London Gazette in December 1914 reads:

Conspicuous gallant leading on 13th October, when he turned the enemy out of their trenches with the bayonet. He was severely wounded.

After recovering in early 1915, he was appointed brigade major first of 112th Brigade and then with 104th Brigade under training in Lancashire. He returned to the Western Front in early 1916 as a general staff officer in the 33rd Division and took part in the Battle of Arras in April/May 1917. He became a general staff officer with IX Corps, part of General Sir Herbert Plumer’s Second Army, in July 1917’

Montgomery served at the Battle of Passchendaele in late 1917 before finishing the war as GSO1 (effectively Chief of Staff) of the 47th (2nd London) Division, with the temporary rank of lieutenant colonel. A photograph from October 1918, reproduced in many biographies, shows the then unknown Lieutenant Colonel Montgomery standing in front of Winston Churchill (then the Minister of Munitions) at the parade following the liberation of Lille.

Between the world wars; 1920s

After the First World War Montgomery commanded the 17th (Service) Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, a battalion in the British Army of the Rhine, before reverting to his substantive rank of captain (brevet major) in November 1919. He had not at first been selected for the Staff College in Camberley, Surrey (his only hope of ever achieving high command). But at a tennis party in Cologne, he was able to persuade the Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of the British Army of Occupation, Field Marshal Sir William Robertson, to add his name to the list.

After graduating from the Staff College, he was appointed brigade major in the 17th Infantry Brigade in January 1921. The brigade was stationed in County Cork, Ireland, carrying out counter-insurgency operations during the final stages of the Irish War of Independence.

Montgomery came to the conclusion that the conflict could not be won without harsh measures, and that self-government for Ireland was the only feasible solution; in 1923, after the establishment of the Irish Free State and during the Irish Civil War, Montgomery wrote to Colonel Arthur Ernest Percival of the Essex Regiment:

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. That being so, I consider that Lloyd George was right in what he did, if we had gone on we could probably have squashed the rebellion as a temporary measure, but it would have broken out again like an ulcer the moment we removed the troops. I think the rebels would probably [have] refused battles, and hidden their arms etc. until we had gone.

In May 1923, Montgomery was posted to the 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division, a Territorial Army (TA) formation. He returned to the 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment in 1925 as a company commander and was promoted to major in July 1925. From January 1926 to January 1929 he served as Deputy Assistant Adjutant General at the Staff College, Camberley, in the temporary rank of lieutenant colonel.

Marriage and family

In 1925, in his first known courtship of a woman, Montgomery, then in his late thirties, proposed to a 17-year-old girl, Miss Betty Anderson. His approach included drawing diagrams in the sand of how he would deploy his tanks and infantry in a future war, a contingency which seemed very remote at that time. She respected his ambition and single-mindedness, but declined his proposal of marriage.

In 1927, he met and married Elizabeth (Betty) Carver, née Hobart, widow of Oswald Carver, Olympic rowing medallist who had been killed in the First World War. Betty Carver was the sister of the future Second World War commander, Major General Sir Percy Hobart. Betty Carver had two sons in their early teens, John and Dick, from her first marriage. Dick Carver later wrote that it had been “a very brave thing” for Montgomery to take on a widow with two children. Montgomery’s son, David, was born in August 1928.

While on holiday in Burnham-on-Sea in 1937, Betty suffered an insect bite which became infected, and she died in her husband’s arms from septicaemia following amputation of her leg. The loss devastated Montgomery, who was then serving as a brigadier, but he insisted on throwing himself back into his work immediately after the funeral. Montgomery’s marriage had been extremely happy. Much of his correspondence with his wife was destroyed when his quarters at Portsmouth were bombed during the Second World War. After Montgomery’s death, John Carver wrote that his mother had arguably done the country a favour by keeping his personal oddities – his extreme single-mindedness, and his intolerance of and suspicion of the motives of others – within reasonable bounds long enough for him to have a chance of attaining high command.

Both of Montgomery’s stepsons became army officers in the 1930s (both were serving in India at the time of their mother’s death), and both served in the Second World War, each eventually attaining the rank of Colonel. While serving as a GSO2 with Eighth Army, Dick Carver was sent forward during the pursuit after El Alamein to help identify a new site for Eighth Army HQ. He was taken prisoner at Mersa Matruh on 7 November 1942. Montgomery wrote to his contacts in England asking that inquiries be made via the Red Cross as to where his stepson was being held, and that parcels be sent to him. Like many British POWs, the most famous being General Richard O’Connor, Dick Carver escaped in September 1943 during the brief hiatus between Italy’s departure from the war and the German seizure of the country. He eventually reached British lines on 5 December 1943, to the delight of his stepfather, who sent him home to Britain to recuperate.

1930s

In January 1929 Montgomery was promoted to brevet lieutenant colonel. That month he returned to the 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment again, as Commander of Headquarters Company; he went to the War Office to help write the Infantry Training Manual in mid-1929. In 1931 Montgomery was promoted to substantive lieutenant colonel ]and became the Commanding Officer (CO) of the 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment and saw service in Palestine and British India. He was promoted to colonel in June 1934 (seniority from January 1932). He attended and was then recommended to become an instructor at the Indian Army Staff College (now the Pakistan Army Staff College) in Quetta, British India.

On completion of his tour of duty in India, Montgomery returned to Britain in June 1937 where he took command of the 9th Infantry Brigade with the temporary rank of brigadier. His wife died that year.

In 1938, he organised an amphibious combined operations landing exercise that impressed the new C-in-C of Southern Command, General Sir Archibald Percival Wavell. He was promoted to major general on 14 October 1938 and took command of the 8th Infantry Division in Palestine. There he quashed an Arab revolt before returning in July 1939 to Britain, suffering a serious illness on the way, to command the 3rd (Iron) Infantry Division. On hearing of the rebel defeat in April 1939, Montgomery said, “I shall be sorry to leave Palestine in many ways, as I have enjoyed the war out here”.

Second World War; British Expeditionary Force; Retreat to Dunkirk and evacuation

Britain declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939. The 3rd Division was deployed to Belgium as part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). During this time, Montgomery faced serious trouble from his military superiors and the clergy for his frank attitude regarding the sexual health of his soldiers, but was defended from dismissal by his superior Alan Brooke, commander of II Corps. Montgomery’s training paid off when the Germans began their invasion of the Low Countries on 10 May 1940 and the 3rd Division advanced to the River Dijle and then withdrew to Dunkirk with great professionalism, entering the Dunkirk perimeter in a famous night-time march that placed his forces on the left flank, which had been left exposed by the Belgian surrender. The 3rd Division returned to Britain intact with minimal casualties. During Operation Dynamo — the evacuation of 330,000 BEF and French troops to Britain — Montgomery assumed command of the II Corps.

On his return Montgomery antagonised the War Office with trenchant criticisms of the command of the BEF and was briefly relegated back to divisional command of 3rd Division. 3rd Division was at that time the only fully equipped division in Britain. He was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath.

Montgomery was ordered to make ready his 3rd Division to invade the neutral Portuguese Azores. Models of the islands were prepared and detailed plans worked out for the invasion. The invasion plans did not go ahead and plans switched to invading Cape Verde island also belonging to neutral Portugal. These invasion plans also did not go ahead. Montgomery was then ordered to prepare plans for the invasion of neutral Ireland and to seize Cork, Cobh and Cork harbour. These invasion plans, like those of the Portuguese islands, also did not go ahead and in July 1940, Montgomery was appointed acting lieutenant-general, and placed in command of V Corps, responsible for the defence of Hampshire and Dorset, and started a long-running feud with the new Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of Southern Command, Lieutenant General Claude Auchinleck.

In April 1941, he became commander of XII Corps responsible for the defence of Kent. During this period, he instituted a regime of continuous training and insisted on high levels of physical fitness for both officers and other ranks. He was ruthless in sacking officers he considered would be unfit for command in action. Promoted to temporary lieutenant-general in July, in December Montgomery was given command of South-Eastern Command overseeing the defence of Kent, Sussex and Surrey.

He renamed his command the South-Eastern Army to promote offensive spirit. During this time he further developed and rehearsed his ideas and trained his soldiers, culminating in Exercise Tiger in May 1942, a combined forces exercise involving 100,000 troops.

North Africa and Italy; Montgomery’s early command

In 1942, a new field commander was required in the Middle East, where Auchinleck was fulfilling both the role of Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of Middle East Command and commander Eighth Army. He had stabilised the Allied position at the First Battle of El Alamein, but after a visit in August 1942, the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, replaced him as C-in-C with General Sir Harold Alexander and William Gott as commander of the Eighth Army in the Western Desert. However, after Gott was killed flying back to Cairo Churchill was persuaded by Brooke, who by this time was Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS), to appoint Montgomery, who had only just been nominated to replace Alexander as commander of the British First Army for Operation Torch, the invasion of French North Africa.

A story, probably apocryphal but popular at the time, is that the appointment caused Montgomery to remark that “After having an easy war, things have now got much more difficult.” A colleague is supposed to have told him to cheer up – at which point Montgomery said “I’m not talking about me, I’m talking about Rommel!”

Montgomery’s assumption of command transformed the fighting spirit and abilities of the Eighth Army. Taking command on 13 August 1942, he immediately became a whirlwind of activity. He ordered the creation of the X Corps, which contained all armoured divisions, to fight alongside his XXX Corps, which was all infantry divisions. This arrangement differed from the German Panzer Corps: one of Rommel’s Panzer Corps combined infantry, armour and artillery units under one corps commander. The only common commander for Montgomery’s all-infantry and all-armour corps was the Eighth Army Commander himself. Correlli Barnett commented that Montgomery’s solution “… was in every way opposite to Auchinleck’s and in every way wrong, for it carried the existing dangerous separatism still further.” Montgomery reinforced the 30 miles (48 km) long front line at El Alamein, something that would take two months to accomplish. He asked Alexander to send him two new British divisions (51st Highland and 44th Home Counties) that were then arriving in Egypt and were scheduled to be deployed in defence of the Nile Delta. He moved his field HQ to Burg al Arab, close to the Air Force command post in order better to coordinate combined operations.

Montgomery was determined that the Army, Navy and Air Forces should fight their battles in a unified, focused manner according to a detailed plan. He ordered immediate reinforcement of the vital heights of Alam Halfa, just behind his own lines, expecting the German commander, Erwin Rommel, to attack with the heights as his objective, something that Rommel soon did. Montgomery ordered all contingency plans for retreat to be destroyed. “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”, he told his officers at the first meeting he held with them in the desert, though, in fact, Auchinleck had no plans to withdraw from the strong defensive position he had chosen and established at El Alamein.

Montgomery made a great effort to appear before troops as often as possible, frequently visiting various units and making himself known to the men, often arranging for cigarettes to be distributed. Although he still wore a standard British officer’s cap on arrival in the desert, he briefly wore an Australian broad-brimmed hat before switching to wearing the black beret (with the badge of the Royal Tank Regiment next to the British General Officer’s badge) for which he became notable. The black beret was offered to him by Jim Fraser while the latter was driving him on an inspection tour. Both Brooke and Alexander were astonished by the transformation in atmosphere when they visited on 19 August, less than a week after Montgomery had taken command.

First battles with Rommel

Rommel attempted to turn the left flank of the Eighth Army at the Battle of Alam el Halfa from 31 August 1942. The German/Italian armoured Corps infantry attack was stopped in very heavy fighting. Rommel’s forces had to withdraw urgently lest their retreat through the British minefields be cut off. Montgomery was criticised for not counter-attacking the retreating forces immediately, but he felt strongly that his methodical build-up of British forces was not yet ready. A hasty counter-attack risked ruining his strategy for an offensive on his own terms in late October, planning for which had begun soon after he took command. He was confirmed in the permanent rank of lieutenant-general in mid-October.

The conquest of Libya was essential for airfields to support Malta and to threaten the rear of Axis forces opposing Operation Torch. Montgomery prepared meticulously for the new offensive after convincing Churchill that the time was not being wasted. (Churchill sent a telegram to Alexander on 23 September 1942 which began, “We are in your hands and of course a victorious battle makes amends for much delay.” He was determined not to fight until he thought there had been sufficient preparation for a decisive victory, and put into action his beliefs with the gathering of resources, detailed planning, the training of troops—especially in clearing minefields and fighting at night—and in the use of 252 of the latest American-built Sherman tanks, 90 M7 Priest self-propelled howitzers, and making a personal visit to every unit involved in the offensive. By the time the offensive was ready in late October, Eighth Army had 231,000 men on its ration strength.

El Alamein

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. Montgomery 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 going 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 warwere 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.

Tunisia

Montgomery was advanced to KCB and promoted to full general. He kept the initiative, applying superior strength when it suited him, forcing Rommel out of each successive defensive position. On 6 March 1943, Rommel’s attack on the over-extended Eighth Army at Medenine (Operation Capri) with the largest concentration of German armour in North Africa was successfully repulsed. At the Mareth Line, 20 to 27 March, when Montgomery encountered fiercer frontal opposition than he had anticipated, he switched his major effort into an outflanking inland pincer, backed by low-flying RAF fighter-bomber support. For his role in North Africa he was awarded the Legion of Merit by the United States government in the rank of Chief Commander.

Sicily

The next major Allied attack was the Allied invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky). Montgomery considered the initial plans for the Allied invasion, which had been agreed in principle by General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander Mediterranean, and General Alexander, the 15th Army Group commander, to be unworkable because of the dispersion of effort. He managed to have the plans recast to concentrate the Allied forces, having Lieutenant General George Patton’s US Seventh Army land in the Gulf of Gela (on the Eighth Army’s left flank, which landed around Syracuse in the south-east of Sicily) rather than near Palermo in the west and north of Sicily. Inter-Allied tensions grew as the American commanders, Patton and Omar Bradley (then commanding US II Corps under Patton), took umbrage at what they saw as Montgomery’s attitudes and boastfulness. However, while all three were considered three of the greatest soldiers of their time, due to their competitiveness they were renowned for ‘squabbling like three schoolgirls’ thanks to their ‘bitchiness’, ‘whining to their superiors’ and ‘showing off’.

Italian campaign

During late 1943, Montgomery continued to command the Eighth Army during the landings on the mainland of Italy itself, beginning with Operation Baytown. In conjunction with the Anglo-American landings at Salerno (near Naples) by Lieutenant General Mark Clark’s US Fifth Army and seaborne landings by British paratroops in the heel of Italy (including the key port of Taranto, where they disembarked without resistance directly into the port), Montgomery led the Eighth Army up the toe of Italy. Montgomery abhorred the lack of coordination, the dispersion of effort, the strategic muddle and lack of opportunism he saw in the Allied effort in Italy and was glad to leave the “dog’s breakfast” on 23 December 1943.

Normandy

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Montgomery returned to Britain in January 1944. He was assigned to command the 21st Army Group consisting of all Allied ground forces participating in Operation Overlord, codename for the Allied invasion of Normandy. Overall direction was assigned to the Supreme Allied Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces, American General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Both Churchill and Eisenhower had found Montgomery difficult to work with in the past and wanted the position to go to the more affable General Sir Harold Alexander. However, Montgomery’s patron, General Sir Alan Brooke, firmly argued that Montgomery was a much superior general to Alexander and ensured his appointment. Without Brooke’s support, Montgomery would have remained in Italy. At St Paul’s School on 7 April and 15 May Montgomery presented his strategy for the invasion. He envisaged a ninety-day battle, with all forces reaching the Seine. The campaign would pivot on an Allied-held Caen in the east of the Normandy bridgehead, with relatively static British and Canadian armies forming a shoulder to attract and defeat German counter-attacks, relieving the US armies who would move and seize the Cotentin Peninsula and Brittany, wheeling south and then east on the right forming a pincer.

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During the ten weeks of the Battle of Normandy, unfavourable autumnal weather conditions disrupted the Normandy landing areas. Montgomery’s initial plan was for the Anglo-Canadian troops under his command to break out immediately from their beachheads on the Calvados coast towards Caen with the aim of taking the city on either D Day or two days later. Montgomery attempted to take Caen with the 3rd Infantry Division, 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division and the 3rd Canadian Division but was stopped from 6–8 June by 21st Panzer Division and 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend, who hit the advancing Anglo-Canadian troops very hard. Rommel followed up this success by ordering the 2nd Panzer Division to Caen while Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt asked for and received permission from Hitler to have the elite 1st Waffen SS Division Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler and 2nd Waffen SS Division Das Reich sent to Caen as well.[]Montgomery thus had to face what Stephen Badsey called the “most formidable” of all the German divisions in France. The 12th Waffen SS Division Hitlerjugend as its name implies was drawn entirely from the more fanatical elements of the Hitler Youth and commanded by the ruthless SS-Brigadeführer Kurt Meyer, aka “Panzer Meyer”.

The failure to take Caen immediately has been the source of an immense historiographical dispute with bitter nationalist overtones. Broadly, there has been a “British school” which accepts Montgomery’s post-war claim that he never intended to take Caen at once, and instead the Anglo-Canadian operations around Caen were a “holding operation” intended to attract the bulk of the German forces towards the Caen sector to allow the Americans to stage the “break out operation” on the left flank of the German positions, which was all part of Montgomery’s “Master Plan” that he had conceived long before the Normandy campaign. By contrast, the “American school” argued that Montgomery’s initial “master plan” was for the 21st Army Group to take Caen at once, move his tank divisions into the plains south of Caen to stage a breakout that would lead the 21st Army Group into the plains of northern France and hence into Antwerp and finally the Ruhr. Letters written by Eisenhower at the time of the battle make it clear that Eisenhower was expecting from Montgomery “the early capture of the important focal point of Caen“. Later, when this plan had clearly failed, Eisenhower wrote that Montgomery had “evolved” the plan to have the US forces achieve the break-out instead.

As the campaign progressed, Montgomery altered his initial plan for the invasion and continued the strategy of attracting and holding German counter-attacks in the area north of Caen rather than to the south, to allow the US First Army in the west to take Cherbourg. A memo summarising Montgomery’s operations written by Eisenhower’s chief of staff, General Walter Bedell Smith who met with Montgomery in late June 1944 says nothing about Montgomery conducting a “holding operation” in the Caen sector, and instead speaks of him seeking a “breakout” into the plains south of the Seine. On 12 June, Montgomery ordered the 7th Armoured Division into an attack against the Panzer Lehr Division that made good progress at first but ended when the Panzer Lehr was joined by the 2nd Panzer Division. At Villers Bocage on 14 June, the British lost twenty Cromwell tanks to five Tiger tanks led by SS Obersturmführer Michael Wittmann in about five minutes. Despite the setback at Villers Bocage, Montgomery was still optimistic as the Allies were landing more troops and supplies than they were losing in battle, and though the German lines were holding, the Wehrmacht and Waffen SS were suffering considerable attrition. Air Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder complained that it was impossible to move fighter squadrons to France until Montgomery had captured some airfields, something he asserted that Montgomery appeared incapable of doing. The first V-1 attacks on London, which started on 13 June further increased the pressure on Montgomery from Whitehall to speed up his advance.

On 18 June, Montgomery ordered Bradley to take Cherbourg while the British were to take Caen by 23 June. In Operation Epsom, the British VII Corps commanded by Sir Richard O’Connor attempted to outflank Caen from the west by breaking through the dividing line between the Panzer Lehr and the 12th SS to take the strategic Hill 112. Epsom began well with O’Connor’s assault force, the British 15th Scottish Division breaking through and with the 11th Armoured Division stopping the counter-attacks of the 12th SS Division. General Friedrich Dollmann of the 7th Army had to commit the newly arrived II SS Corps to stop the British offensive. Dollmann, fearing that Epsom would be a success, committed suicide and was replaced by SS Oberstegruppenführer Paul Hausser. O’Connor, at the cost of about 4,000 men, had won a salient 5 miles (8.0 km) deep and 2 miles (3.2 km) wide but placed the Germans into an unviable long-term position. There was a strong sense of crisis in the Allied command as the Allies had advanced only about 15 miles (24 km) inland, at a time when their plans called for them to have already taken Rennes, Alençon and St. Malo. After Epsom, Montgomery had to tell General Harry Crerar that the activation of the First Canadian Army would have to wait as there was room at present in the Caen sector only for the newly arrived XII Corps under Lieutenant General Neil Ritchie, which caused some tension with Crerar who was anxious to get into the field. Epsom had forced further German forces into Caen but all through June and the first half of July Rommel, Rundstedt, and Hitler were engaged in planning for a great offensive to drive the British into the sea; it was never launched and would have required the commitment of a large number of German forces to the Caen sector.

It was only after several failed attempts to break out in the Caen sector that Montgomery devised what he later called his “master plan” of having the 21st Army Group hold the bulk of the German forces, thus allowing the Americans to break out. The Canadian historians Terry Copp and Robert Vogel wrote about the dispute between the “American school” and “British school” after having suffered several setbacks in June 1944: thus allowing the Americans to break out. The Canadian historians Terry Copp and Robert Vogel wrote about the dispute between the “American school” and “British school” after having suffered several setbacks in June 1944:

Montgomery drew what was the indisputably correct conclusion from these events. If the British and Canadians could continue to hold the bulk of the German armoured divisions on their front through a series of limited attacks, they could wear down the Germans and create the conditions for an American breakout on the right.

This is what Montgomery proposed in his Directive of June 30th and, if he and his admirers had let the record speak for itself, there would be little debate about his conduct of the first stages of the Normandy campaign. Instead, Montgomery insisted that this Directive was a consistent part of a master plan that he had devised long before the invasion. Curiously, this view does a great disservice to ‘Monty’ for any rigid planning of operations before the German response was known would have been bad generalship indeed!”.

Hampered by stormy weather and the bocage terrain, Montgomery had to ensure Rommel focused on the British in the east rather than the Americans in the west, who had to take the Cotentin Peninsula and Brittany before the Germans could be trapped by a general swing east. Montgomery told General Sir Miles Dempsey, the commander of the 2nd British Army: “Go on hitting, drawing the German strength, especially some of the armour, on to yourself – so as to ease the way for Bradley.” The Germans had deployed 12 divisions, of which six were Panzer divisions against the British while deploying 8 divisions, of which 3 were Panzer divisions against the Americans. By the middle of July Caen had not been taken, as Rommel continued to prioritise prevention of the break-out by British forces rather than the western territories being taken by the Americans. This was broadly as Montgomery had planned, albeit not with the same speed as he outlined at St Paul’s, although as the American historian Carlo D’Este pointed out the actual situation in Normandy was “vastly different” from what was envisioned at the St. Paul’s conference as only one of four goals outlined in May had been achieved by 10 July

On 7 July, Montgomery began Operation Charnwood with a carpet bombing offensive that turned much of the French countryside and the city of Caen into a wasteland. The British and Canadians succeeded in advancing into northern Caen before the Germans who used the ruins to their advantage and stopped the offensive. On 10 July, Montgomery ordered Bradley to take Avranches, after which the 3rd US Army would be activated to drive towards Le Mans and Alençon. On 14 July 1944, Montgomery wrote to his patron Brooke, saying he had chosen on a “real show down on the eastern flanks, and to loose a Corps of three armoured divisions in the open country about the Caen-Falaise road…The possibilities are immense; with seven hundred tanks loosed to the South-east of Caen, and the armoured cars operating far ahead, anything can happen.” The French Resistance had launched Plan Violet in June 1944 to systematically destroy the telephone system of France, which forced the Germans to use their radios more and more to communicate, and as the code-breakers of Bletchley Park had broken many of the German codes, Montgomery had – via Ultra intelligence – a good idea of the German situation. Montgomery thus knew German Army Group B had lost 96,400 men while receiving 5,200 replacements and the Panzer Lehr Division now based at St. Lô was down to only 40 tanks. Montgomery later wrote that he knew he had the Normandy campaign won at this point as the Germans had almost no reserves while he had three armoured divisions in reserve.

An American break-out was achieved with Operation Cobra and the encirclement of German forces in the Falaise pocket at the cost of British losses with the diversionary Operation Goodwood. On the early morning of 18 July 1944, Operation Goodwood began with British heavy bombers beginning carpet bombing attacks that further devastated what was left of Caen and the surrounding countryside. A British tank crewman from the Guards Armoured Division later recalled: “At 0500 hours a distant thunder in the air brought all the sleepy-eyed tank crews out of their blankets. 1,000 Lancasters were flying from the sea in groups of three or four at 3,000 feet (910 m). Ahead of them the pathfinders were scattering their flares and before long the first bombs were dropping”. A German tankman from the 21st Panzer Division at the receiving end of this bombardment remembered: “We saw little dots detach themselves from the planes, so many of them that the crazy thought occurred to us: are those leaflets?…Among the thunder of the explosions, we could hear the wounded scream and the insane howling of men who had [been] driven mad”. The British bombing had badly smashed the German front-line units; e.g. tanks were thrown up on the roofs of French farmhouses. Initially, the three British armoured divisions assigned to lead the offensive, the 7th, 11th and the Guards, made rapid progress and were soon approaching the Borguebus ridge, which dominated the landscape south of Caen by noon.

If the British could take the Borguebus ridge, the way to the plains of northern France would be wide open, and potentially Paris could be taken, which explains the ferocity with which the Germans defended the Borguebus ridge. One German officer, Lieutenant Baron von Rosen recalled that to motivate a Luftwaffe officer commanding a battery of four 88mm guns to fight against the British tanks that he had to hold his handgun to his head “…and asked him whether he would like to be killed immediately or get a high decoration. He decided for the latter”. The well dug-in 88mm guns around the Borguebus ridge began taking a toll of the British Sherman tanks and the countryside was soon dotted with dozens of burning Shermans. One British officer reported with worry: “I see palls of smoke and tanks brewing up with flames belching forth from their turrets. I see men climbing out, on fire like torches, rolling on the ground to try and douse the flames”.Despite Montgomery’s orders to try to press on, fierce German counter-attacks stopped the British offensive.

The objectives of Operation Goodwood were all achieved except the complete capture of the Bourgebus Ridge, which was partially taken. The operation was a strategic Allied success in drawing in the last German reserves in Normandy towards the Caen sector away from the American sector, greatly assisting the American break out in Operation Cobra. By the end of Goodwood on 25 July 1944, the Canadians had finally taken Caen while the British tanks had reached the plains south of Caen, giving Montgomery the “hinge”, he had been seeking, while forcing the Germans to commit the last of their reserves to stop the Anglo-Canadian offensive. Ultra-decrypts indicated that the Germans now facing Bradley were seriously understrength with Operation Cobra about to commence. During Operation Goodwood, the British had 400 tanks knocked out with many recovered returning to service. The casualties were 5,500 with 7 miles (11 km) of ground gained. Bradley recognised Montgomery’s plan to pin down German armour and allow US forces to break out:

The British and Canadian armies were to decoy the enemy reserves and draw them to their front on the extreme eastern edge of the Allied beachhead. Thus, while Monty taunted the enemy at Caen, the Americans were to make our break on the long roundabout road to Paris. When reckoned in terms of national pride, this British decoy mission became a sacrificial one, for while we tramped around the outside flank, the British were to sit in place and pin down the Germans. Yet strategically it fitted into a logical division of labours, for it was towards Caen that the enemy reserves would race once the alarm was sounded.

The long running dispute over what Montgomery’s “master plan” in Normandy was, led historians to differ greatly about the purpose of Goodwood. The British journalist Mark Urban, wrote that the purpose of Goodwood was to draw German troops to their left flank to allow the Americans to breakout on the right flank, arguing that Montgomery had to lie to his soldiers about the purpose of Goodwood as the average British soldier would not have understood why they were being asked to create a diversion to allow the Americans to have the glory of staging the breakout with Operation Cobra.

By contrast, the American historian Stephen Power argued that Goodwood was intended to be the “breakout” offensive and not a “holding operation”, writing: “It is unrealistic to assert that an operation which called for the use of 4,500 Allied aircraft, 700 artillery pieces and over 8,000 armoured vehicles and trucks and that cost the British over 5,500 casualties was conceived and executed for so limited an objective”. Power noted that Goodwood and Cobra were supposed to take effect on the same day, 18 July 1944, but Cobra was cancelled owing to heavy rain in the American sector, and argued that both operations were meant to be breakout operations to trap the German armies in Normandy. American military writer Drew Middleton wrote that there is no doubt that Montgomery wanted Goodwood to provide a “shield” for Bradley, but at the same time Montgomery was clearly hoping for more than merely diverting German attention away from the American sector.

British historian John Keegan pointed out that Montgomery made differing statements before Goodwood about the purpose of the operation. Keegan wrote that Montgomery engaged in what he called a “hedging of his bets” when drafting his plans for Goodwood, with a plan for a “break out if the front collapsed, if not, sound documentary evidence that all he had intended in the first place was a battle of attrition”.Again Bradley confirmed Montgomery plan and that the capture of Caen was only incidental to his mission, not critical. The American LIFE magazine quoted Bradley in 1951:

While Collins was hoisting his VII Corps flag over Cherbourg, Montgomery was spending his reputation in a bitter siege against the old university city of Caen. For three weeks he had rammed his troops against those panzer divisions he had deliberately drawn towards that city as part of our Allied strategy of diversion in the Normandy Campaign. Although Caen contained an important road junction that Montgomery would eventually need, for the moment the capture of that city was only incidental to his mission. For Monty’s primary task was to attract German troops to the British front that we might more easily secure Cherbourg and get into position for the breakout.

While this diversion of Monty’s was brilliantly achieved, he nevertheless left himself open to criticism by overemphasizing the importance of his thrust toward Caen. Had he limited himself simply to the containment without making Caen a symbol of it, he would have been credited with success instead of being charged, as he was, with failure.

With Goodwood drawing the Wehrmacht towards the British sector, the First American Army enjoyed a two to one numerical superiority with General Omar Bradley accepting Montgomery’s advice to begin the offensive by concentrating at one point instead of a “broad front” as Eisenhower would have preferred.

Operation Goodwood almost cost Montgomery his job, as Eisenhower seriously considered sacking him and only chose not to do so because to sack the popular “Monty” would have caused such a political backlash in Britain against the Americans at a critical moment in the war that the resulting strains in the Atlantic alliance were not considered worth it.  Montgomery expressed his satisfaction at the results of Goodwood when calling the operation off. Eisenhower was under the impression that Goodwood was to be a break out operation. There was a miscommunication between the two men or Eisenhower did not understand the strategy. Alan Brooke chief of the British Imperial General Staff wrote: “Ike knows nothing about strategy and is quite unsuited to the post of Supreme Commander. It is no wonder that Monty’s real high ability is not always realised” Bradley fully understood Montgomery’s intentions. Both men would not give away to the press the true intentions of their strategy.

Many American officers had found Montgomery a difficult man to work with, and after Goodwood, pressured Eisenhower to fire Montgomery. Although the Eisenhower-Montgomery dispute is sometimes depicted in nationalist terms as being an Anglo-American struggle, it was the British Air Marshal Arthur Tedder who was pressing Eisenhower most strongly after Goodwood to fire Montgomery. An American officer wrote in his diary that Tedder had come to see Eisenhower to “pursue his current favourite subject, the sacking of Monty”. With Tedder leading the “sack Monty” campaign, it encouraged Montgomery’s American enemies to press Eisenhower to fire Montgomery. Brooke was sufficiently worried about the “sack Monty” campaign to visit Montgomery at his Tactical Headquarters (TAC) in France and as he wrote in his diary; “warned [Montgomery] of a tendency in the PM [Churchill] to listen to suggestions that Monty played for safety and was not prepared to take risks”. Brooke advised Montgomery to invite Churchill to Normandy, arguing that if the “sack Monty” campaign had won the Prime Minister over, then his career would be over as having Churchill’s backing would give Eisenhower the political “cover” to fire Montgomery. On 20 July, Montgomery met Eisenhower and on 21 July Churchill at the TAC in France. One of Montgomery’s staff officers wrote afterwards that it was “common knowledge at Tac that Churchill had come to sack Monty”. No notes were taken at the Eisenhower-Montgomery and Churchill-Montgomery meetings, but Montgomery was able to persuade both men not to fire him.

With the success of Cobra, which was soon followed by unleashing the 3rd American Army under the General George S. Patton, Eisenhower wrote to Montgomery: “Am delighted that your basic plan has begun brilliantly to unfold with Bradley’s initial success”. The success of Cobra was aided by Operation Spring when the II Canadian Corps under General Guy Simonds (the only Canadian general whose skill Montgomery respected) began an offensive south of Caen that made little headway, but which the Germans regarded as the main offensive. Once the 3rd American Army arrived, Bradley was promoted to take command of the newly created 12th Army Group consisting of 1st and 3rd American Armies.

Following the American breakout, there followed the Battle of Falaise Gap as the British, Canadian and Polish soldiers of 21st Army Group commanded by Montgomery advanced south while the American and French soldiers of Bradley’s 12th Army Group advanced north to encircle the German Army Group B at Falaise as Montgomery waged what Urban called “a huge battle of annihilation” in August 1944. Montgomery began his offensive into the Suisse Normande region with Operation Bluecoat with Sir Richard O’Connor’s VIII Corps and Gerard Bucknall’s XXX Corps heading south. A dissatisfied Montgomery sacked Bucknall for being insufficiently aggressive and replaced him with General Brian Horrocks. At the same time, Montgomery ordered that Patton whose Third Army was supposed to advance into Brittany to send only minimal forces and instead ordered that Patton was to capture Nantes, which was soon taken.

Hitler waited too long to order his soldiers to retreat from Normandy, leading Montgomery to write: “He [Hitler] refused to face the only sound military course. As a result the Allies caused the enemy staggering losses in men and materials“. Knowing via Ultra that Hitler was not planning to retreat from Normandy, Montgomery, on 6 August 1944, ordered that an envelopment operation against Army Group B with the

  • First Canadian Army under Harry Crerar, which was to advance towards Falaise,
  • The Second British Army under Miles Dempsey was to advance towards Argentan and
  • The Third American Army under George S. Patton was to advance to Alençon.

On 11 August, Montgomery changed his plan with the Canadians to take Falaise and to meet the Americans at Argentan.

The First Canadian Army launched two operations,

  • Operation Totalize on 7 August which advanced only 9 miles (14 km) in four days in the face of fierce German resistance and
  • Operation Tractable on 14 August which finally took Falaise on 17 August.

In view of the slow Canadian advance, Patton requested permission to take Falaise, but was refused by Bradley on 13 August, which prompted much controversy with many historians arguing that Bradley lacked aggression and that Montgomery should have overruled Bradley.

The so-called “Falaise Gap” was closed on 22 August 1944, but several American generals, most notably Patton, accused Montgomery of being insufficiently aggressive in closing it, about 60,000 German soldiers were trapped in Normandy, but before 22 August, about 20,000 Germans had escaped through the “Falaise Gap” to fight another day. About 10,000 Germans had been killed in the Battle of the Falaise Gap, which led to a stunned Eisenhower, who viewed the battlefield on 24 August, to comment with horror that it was impossible to walk without stepping on corpses. The successful conclusion of the Normandy campaign saw the beginning of the debate between the “American school” and “British school” as both American and British generals started to advance claims about who was most responsible for this victory. Brooke wrote in defence of his protégé Montgomery: “Ike knows nothing about strategy and is quite unsuited to the post of Supreme Commander. It is no wonder that Monty’s real high ability is not always realised. Especially so when ‘national’ spectacles pervert the perspective of the strategic landscape”. About Montgomery’s conduct of the Normandy campaign, Badsey wrote:

Too much discussion on Normandy has centred on the controversial decisions of the Allied commanders. It was not good enough, apparently, to win such a complete and spectacular victory over an enemy that had conquered most of Europe unless it was done perfectly. Most of the blame for this lies with Montgomery, who was foolish enough to insist that it had been done perfectly, that Normandy – and all his other battles – had been fought accordingly to a precise master plan drawn up beforehand, from which he never deviated. It says much for his personality that Montgomery found others to agree with him, despite overwhelmingly evidence to the contrary. His handling of the Battle of Normandy was of a very high order, and as the person who would certainly have been blamed for losing the battle, he deserves the credit for winning it.

Advance to the Rhine

General Eisenhower took over Ground Forces Command on 1 September, while continuing as Supreme Commander, with Montgomery continuing to command the 21st Army Group, now consisting mainly of British and Canadian units. Montgomery bitterly resented this change, although it had been agreed before the D-Day invasion. The British journalist Mark Urban writes that Montgomery seemed unable to grasp that as the majority of the 2.2 million Allied soldiers fighting against Germany on the Western Front were now American (the ratio was 3:1) that it was politically unacceptable to American public opinion to have Montgomery remain as Land Forces Commander as: “Politics would not allow him to carry on giving orders to great armies of Americans simply because, in his view, he was better than their generals”.

Winston Churchill had Montgomery promoted to field marshal by way of compensation. In September 1944, Montgomery ordered Crerar and his First Canadian Army to take the French ports on the English Channel, namely Calais, Boulogne and Dunkirk. On 4 September, Antwerp, the third largest port in Europe was captured by Horrocks, with its harbour mostly intact. The Witte Brigade (White Brigade) of the Belgian resistance had captured the Port of Antwerp, before the Germans could destroy the port. Antwerp was a deep water inland port connected to the North Sea via the river Scheldt. The Scheldt was wide enough and dredged deep enough to allow the passage of ocean-going ships.

On 3 September 1944 Hitler ordered the 15th German Army, which had been stationed in the Pas de Calais region and was withdrawing north into the Low Countries to hold the mouth of the river Scheldt to deprive the Allies of the use of Antwerp. Thanks to ULTRA, Montgomery was aware of Hitler’s order by 5 September. Starting that same day, SHAEF’s naval commander, Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay had urged Montgomery to make clearing the mouth of the Schedlt his number one priority, arguing that as long as the mouth of the Scheldt was in German hands, it was impossible for the Royal Navy to clear the mines in the river, and as the Scheldt was mined, the port of Antwerp was useless. Alone among the senior commanders, only Ramsay saw opening Antwerp as crucial.

On 6 September 1944, Montgomery told Crerar that “I want Boulogne badly” and that city should be taken no matter what the cost. By this point, ports like Cherbourg were too far away from the front line, causing the Allies great logistical problems. The importance of ports closer to Germany was highlighted with the liberation of the city of Le Havre, which was assigned to John Crocker’s I Corps. To take Le Havre, two infantry divisions, two tank brigades, most of the artillery of the Second British Army, the specialized armoured “gadgets” of Percy Hobart’s 79th Armoured Division, the battleship HMS Warspite and the monitor HMS Erebus were all committed. On 10 September 1944, Bomber Command dropped 4,719 tons of bombs on Le Havre, which was the prelude to Operation Astonia, the assault on Le Havre by Crocker’s men, which was taken two days later  The Canadian historian Terry Copp wrote that the commitment of this much firepower and men to take only one French city might “seem excessive”, but by this point, the Allies desperately needed ports closer to the front line to sustain their advance.

On 9 September, Montgomery wrote to Brooke that “one good Pas de Calais port” would be sufficient to meet all the logistical needs of the 21st Army Group, but only the supply needs of the same formation. At the same time, Montgomery noted that “one good Pas de Calais port” would be insufficient for the American armies in France, which thus forced Eisenhower, if for no other reasons than logistics, to favour Montgomery’s plans for an invasion of northern Germany by the 21st Army Group, whereas if Antwerp were opened up, then all of the Allied armies could be supplied. Montgomery ordered that Crerar take Calais, Boulogne and Dunkirk and clear the Scheldt, a task that Crerar stated was impossible as he lacked enough troops to perform both operations at once. Montgomery refused Crerar’s request to have British XII Corps under Neil Ritchie assigned to help clear the Scheldt as Montgomery stated he needed XII Corps for Operation Market Garden. Montgomery was able to insist that Eisenhower adopt his strategy of a single thrust to the Ruhr with Operation Market Garden in September 1944. The offensive was strategically bold.

On 22 September 1944, General Guy Simonds’s II Canadian Corps took Boulogne, followed up by taking Calais on 1 October 1944. Montgomery was highly impatient with Simonds, complaining that it had taken Crocker’s I Corps only two days to take Le Havre while it took Simonds two weeks to take Boulogne and Calais, but Simonds noted that at Le Havre, three divisions and two brigades had been employed whereas as at both Boulogne and Calais, only two brigades were sent in to take both cities. After an attempt to storm the Leopold Canal by the 4th Canadian Division had been badly smashed by the German defenders, Simonds ordered a stop to further attempts to clear the river Scheldt until his mission of capturing the French ports on the English Channel had been accomplished; this allowed the German 15th Army ample time to dig into its new home on the Scheldt. The only port that was not captured by the Canadians was Dunkirk, as Montgomery ordered the 2nd Canadian Division on 15 September to hold his flank at Antwerp as a prelude for an advance up the Scheldt.

Operation Market Garden

Montgomery’s plan for Operation Market Garden (17–25 September 1944) was to outflank the Siegfried Line and cross the Rhine, setting the stage for later offensives into the Ruhr region. The 21st Army Group would attack north from Belgium, 60 miles (97 km) through the Netherlands, across the Rhine and consolidate north of Arnhem on the far side of the Rhine. The risky plan required three Airborne Divisions to capture numerous intact bridges along a single-lane road, on which an entire Corps had to attack and use as its main supply route. The offensive failed to achieve its objectives.

In the aftermath of Market Garden, Montgomery made holding the Arnhem salient his first priority, arguing that the 2nd British Army might still be able to break through and reach the wide-open plains of northern Germany, and that he might be able to take the Ruhr by the end of October. In the meantime, the First Canadian Army, which been given the task of clearing the mouth of the river Scheldt, despite the fact that in the words of Copp and Vogel “…that Montgomery’s Directive required the Canadians to continue to fight alone for almost two weeks in a battle which everyone agreed could only be won with the aid of additional divisions”.For his part, Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt, the German commander of the Western Front ordered General Gustav-Adolf von Zangen, the commander of 15th Army that: “The attempt of the enemy to occupy the West Scheldt in order to obtain the free use of the harbor of Antwerp must be resisted to the utmost”.  Rundstedt argued with Hitler that as long as the Allies could not use the port of Antwerp, the Allies would lack the logistical capacity for an invasion of Germany.

Montgomery pulled away from the First Canadian Army (temporarily commanded now by Simonds as Crerar was ill), the British 51st Highland Division, 1st Polish Division, British 49th (West Riding) Division and 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade and sent all of these formations to help the 2nd British Army hold the Arnhem salient. However, Simonds seems to have regarded the Scheldt campaign as a test of his ability, and he felt he could clear the Scheldt with only three Canadian divisions, namely the 2nd, the 3rd, and the 4th, despite having to take on the entire 15th Army, which held strongly fortified positions in a landscape that favoured the defence. Simonds never complained about the lack of air support (made worse by the cloudy October weather), shortages of ammunition or having insufficient troops, regarding these problems as challenges for him to overcome, rather than a cause for complaint. As it was, Simonds made only slow progress in October 1944 during the fighting in the Battle of the Scheldt, although he was praised by Copp for imaginative and aggressive leadership who managed to achieve much, despite all of the odds against him. Montgomery had little respect for the Canadian generals, whom he dismissed as mediocre, except for Simonds, whom he consistently praised as Canada’s only “first-rate” general in the entire war.

Admiral Ramsay, who proved to be a far more articulate and forceful champion of the Canadians than their own generals, starting on 9 October demanded of Eisenhower in a meeting that he either order Montgomery to make supporting the First Canadian Army in the Scheldt fighting his number one priority or sack him. Ramsay in very strong language argued to Eisenhower that the Allies could only invade Germany if Antwerp was opened, and that as long as the three Canadian divisions fighting in the Scheldt had shortages of ammunition and artillery shells because Montgomery made the Arnhem salient his first priority, then Antwerp would not be opened anytime soon. Even Brooke wrote in his diary: “I feel that Monty’s strategy for once is at fault. Instead of carrying out the advance to Arnhem he ought to have made certain of Antwerp“. Prompted by Ramsay, Eisenhower sent Montgomery later on 9 October 1944, a cable that emphasizing the “supreme importance of Antwerp”, stating that “the Canadian Army will not, repeat not, be able to attack until November unless immediately supplied with adequate ammunition”, and finally warning that the Allied advance into Germany would totally stop by mid-November unless Antwerp was opened in October. Montgomery replied by accusing Ramsay of making “wild statements” unsupported by the facts, he denied that the Canadians were having to ration ammunition, and claimed that he would soon take the Ruhr, making the Scheldt campaign a sideshow. Montgomery further issued a memo entitled “Notes on Command in Western Europe” demanding that he once again be made Land Forces Commander, which led to an exasperated Eisenhower telling Montgomery that the question was not the command arrangement, but rather his ability and willingness to obey orders, and that he either obey orders to clear the mouth of the Scheldt at once, or he would be sacked.

A chastised Montgomery told Eisenhower on 15 October 1944 that he was now making clearing the Scheldt his “top priority”, and the ammunition shortages in the First Canadian Army, a problem which he denied even existed five days earlier, were now over as supplying the Canadians was henceforth his first concern. Simonds, now reinforced with British troops and Royal Marines, cleared the Scheldt by taking Walcheren island, the last of the German “fortresses” on the Scheldt on 8 November 1944. With the Scheldt in Allied hands, Royal Navy minesweepers removed the German mines in the river, and Antwerp was finally opened to shipping on 28 November 1944.

Reflecting Antwerp’s importance, the Germans spent the winter of 1944–45 firing V-1 flying bombs and V-2 rockets at it in an attempt to shut down the port, and the German offensive in December 1944 in the Ardennes had as its ultimate objective the capture of Antwerp. Urban wrote that Montgomery’s most “serious failure” in the entire war was not the well-publicised Battle of Arnhem, but rather his lack of interest in opening up Antwerp, as without it the entire Allied advance from the North Sea to the Swiss Alps stalled in the autumn of 1944 for logistical reasons.

Battle of the Bulge

When the surprise attack on the Ardennes took place on 16 December 1944, starting the Battle of the Bulge, the front of the US 12th Army Group was split, with the bulk of the US First Army being on the northern shoulder of the German ‘bulge’. The 12th Army Group commander, General Omar Bradley, was located south of the penetration at Luxembourg and command of the US First Army became problematic. Montgomery was the nearest commander on the ground and on 20 December, Eisenhower (who was in Versailles in France) temporarily transferred Courtney Hodges’ US First Army and William Simpson’s US Ninth Army to Montgomery’s 21st Army Group until the “bulge” could be reduced and a simpler line of communications restored, despite Bradley’s vehement objections on national grounds.

When Bradley learned that Montgomery had been given command of two American armies totalling some 200,000 men, he phoned Eisenhower to say: “I cannot be responsible to the American people if you do this. I resign!” Eisenhower sharply responded that Bradley was in fact responsible to him and “Your resignation means absolutely nothing… Well, Brad, these are my orders.” Montgomery grasped the situation quickly, visiting all divisional, corps, and field army commanders himself and instituting his ‘Phantom’ network of liaison officers. He grouped the British XXX Corps as a strategic reserve behind the Meuse and reorganised the US defence of the northern shoulder, shortening and strengthening the line and ordering the evacuation of St Vith. The German commander of the 5th Panzer Army, Hasso von Manteuffel said:

The operations of the American First Army had developed into a series of individual holding actions. Montgomery’s contribution to restoring the situation was that he turned a series of isolated actions into a coherent battle fought according to a clear and definite plan. It was his refusal to engage in premature and piecemeal counter-attacks which enabled the Americans to gather their reserves and frustrate the German attempts to extend their breakthrough.

The Wehrmacht’s objectives for Betrieb Wacht am Rhein (Operation Watch on the Rhine) was to split the Allied Armies in two by attacking the centre of the allied armies through the Ardennes Forest in Belgium (during one of the worst storms in history) and then turning north to recapture the port at Antwerp. On the north-western side of the battle area was Montgomery’s 21st Army Group which anchored the northern flank of the allied lines, with Bradley’s army group on Montgomery’s right flank and Patton’s 3rd Army on the far right of Bradley’s flank.

Since SHAEF believed the Wehrmacht was no longer capable of launching a major offensive, nor that any offensive could be launched through such rugged terrain as the Ardennes Forest — particularly during winter — the Ardennes was used as an area to send US divisions, which had recently fought and sustained severe casualties, in the Battle of Hürtgen Forest to regroup and refit. It was also used as a place where new units recently from the US were sent to get some field experience in a safe place.

General Patton’s 3rd Army, which was 90 miles (140 km) to the south, switched from its mission in order to turn north and fought its way through the severe weather and German opposition and broke through to Bastogne, the bad weather cleared so that the USAAF and the RAF could resume air assault operations against Nazi armoured divisions and the Wehrmacht ran out of petrol.

It is known that the Battle of the Bulge was the largest land battle fought by the western allies during all of World War II. This battle is possibly best summed up by Winston Churchill in his speech to the House of Commons:

This is undoubtedly the greatest American battle of the war and will, I believe, be regarded as an ever-famous American victory.

Crossing the Rhine

Montgomery’s 21st Army Group (later) advanced to the Rhine with operations Veritable and Grenade in February 1945. A meticulously planned Rhine crossing occurred on 24 March. While successful, it was two weeks after the Americans had unexpectedly (sans meticulous planning) captured the (railway) Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen and crossed the river on 7 March.

Montgomery’s river crossing was followed by the encirclement of German Army Group B in the Ruhr. Initially Montgomery’s role was to guard the flank of the American advance. This was altered to forestall any chance of a Red Army advance into Denmark, and the 21st Army Group occupied Hamburg and Rostock and sealed off the Danish peninsula. On 4 May 1945, on Lüneburg Heath, Montgomery accepted the surrender of German forces in north-west Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Casualty conservation policy

The British high command were not concerned only with winning the war by defeating Germany, but also with ensuring that they were still considered to be a serious power after the war, able to influence global policy. Suffering heavy losses in Normandy would diminish Britain’s Imperial influence on the post-war world, and on post-war Europe in particular. Many of Montgomery’s clashes with Eisenhower were based on his determination to pursue the war “on lines most suitable to Britain”.

The fewer the number of combat-experienced divisions the British had left at the end of the war, the smaller Britain’s influence in Europe was likely to be, compared to the emerging superpowers of the US and the USSR. Montgomery was thus caught in a dilemma – the British Army needed to be seen to be pulling at least half the weight in the liberation of Europe, but without incurring the heavy casualties that such a role would inevitably produce. The 21st Army Group scarcely possessed sufficient forces to achieve such a military prominence, and the remaining divisions had to be expended sparingly.

Britain did not possess the resources in 1944 to rebuild shattered divisions and it was imperative for Montgomery to protect the viability of the British army so that Britain could still play an important part in the final victory. It was reported to the War Office that “Montgomery has to be very careful of what he does on his eastern flank because on that flank is the only British Army there is left in this part of the world“. The context of British casualties and the shortage of reinforcements, prompted Montgomery to “excessive caution“. Dempsey wrote on 13 June, that Caen could only be taken by a “set piece assault and we did not have the men or the ammunition for that at the time”.

Montgomery’s solution to the dilemma was to attempt to remain Commander of All Land Forces until the end of the war, so that any victory attained – although achieved primarily by American formations – would accrue in part to him and thus to Britain. He would also be able to ensure that British units were spared some of the high-attrition actions, but would be most prominent when the final blows were struck. When that strategy failed, he persuaded Eisenhower to occasionally put some American formations under the control of the 21st Army Group, so as to bolster his resources while still maintaining the outward appearance of successful British effort.

Montgomery initially remained prepared to push Second (British) Army hard to capture the vital strategic town of Caen, and consequently incur heavy losses. In the original Overlord plan, Montgomery was determined to push past Caen to Falaise as quickly as possible. However, after the heavy casualties incurred in capturing Caen, he changed his mind.

Lack of tact

Montgomery was notorious for his lack of tact and diplomacy. Even his “patron”, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff Lord Alan Brooke, frequently mentions it in his war diaries: “he is liable to commit untold errors in lack of tact” and “I had to haul him over the coals for his usual lack of tact and egotistical outlook which prevented him from appreciating other people’s feelings”.

One incident that illustrated this occurred during the North African campaign when Montgomery bet Walter Bedell Smith that he could capture Sfax by the middle of April 1943. Smith jokingly replied that if Montgomery could do it he would give him a Flying Fortress complete with crew. Smith promptly forgot all about it, but Montgomery did not, and when Sfax was taken on 10 April he sent a message to Smith “claiming his winnings”. Smith tried to laugh it off, but Montgomery was having none of it and insisted on his aircraft. It got as high as Eisenhower who, with his renowned skill in diplomacy, ensured Montgomery did get his Flying Fortress, though at a great cost in ill feeling. Even Brooke thought it crass stupidity.

In August 1945, whilst Brooke, Sir Andrew Cunningham and Sir Charles Portal were discussing their possible successors as “Chiefs of Staff”, they concluded that Montgomery would be very efficient as CIGS from the Army’s point of view but that he was also very unpopular with a large proportion of the Army. Despite this, Cunningham and Portal were strongly in favour of Montgomery succeeding Brooke after his retirement. Prime Minister Winston Churchill, by all accounts a faithful friend, is quoted as saying of Montgomery, “In defeat, unbeatable; in victory, unbearable.”

Later life; Career

After the war Lord Montgomery became the Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR), the name given to the British Occupation Forces, and was the British member of the Allied Control Council. Montgomery was also President of Portsmouth Football Club between 1944 and 1961. He was created 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein in 1946. He was Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS) from 1946 to 1948, succeeding Alan Brooke. As CIGS, Montgomery toured Africa in 1947 and in a secret 1948 report to Prime Minister Clement Attlee’s government proposed a “master plan” to exploit the raw materials of Africa, thereby counteracting the loss of British influence in Asia. Montgomery held racist views towards Africans, describing them as “complete savages” incapable of developing their own countries.  He was barely on speaking terms with his fellow chiefs, sending his VCIGS to attend their meetings and he clashed particularly with Sir Arthur Tedder, who was by now Chief of the Air Staff (CAS). When Montgomery’s term of office expired, Prime Minister Attlee appointed Sir William Slim from retirement with the rank of field marshal as his successor; when Montgomery protested that he had told his protégé, General Sir John Crocker, former commander of I Corps in the 1944–45 North-West Europe Campaign, that the job was to be his, Attlee is said to have given the memorable retort “Untell him”.

He was then appointed Chairman of the Western Union Defence Organization’s C-in-C committee. Volume 3 of Nigel Hamilton’s Life of Montgomery of Alamein gives an account of the bickering between Montgomery and his land forces chief, French General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, which created splits through the Union headquarters. He was thus pleased to become Eisenhower’s deputy in creating the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s European forces in 1951. He would continue to serve under Eisenhower’s successors, Generals Matthew Ridgway and Al Gruenther, until his retirement, aged nearly 71, in 1958. His mother Maud, Lady Montgomery, died at New Park in Moville in Inishowen in 1949; she was buried alongside her husband in the ‘kirkyard’ behind St. Columb’s Church, the small Church of Irelandchurch beside New Park, overlooking Lough Foyle. Lord Montgomery did not attend the funeral, claiming he was “too busy”.

He was chairman of the governing body of St. John’s School in Leatherhead, Surrey, from 1951 to 1966, and a generous supporter. Lord Montgomery was an Honorary Member of the Winkle Club, a noted charity in Hastings, East Sussex, and introduced Sir Winston Churchill to the club in 1955.

Views

Montgomery’s memoirs (1958) criticised many of his wartime comrades in harsh terms, including Eisenhower. He was threatened with legal action by Field Marshal Auchinleck for suggesting that Auchinleck had intended to retreat from the Alamein position if attacked again, and had to give a radio broadcast (20 November 1958) expressing his gratitude to Auchinleck for having stabilised the front at the First Battle of Alamein.

The 1960 paperback edition of his memoirs contains a publisher’s note drawing attention to that broadcast, and stating that in the publisher’s view the reader might reasonably assume from Montgomery’s text that Auchinleck had been planning to retreat “into the Nile Delta or beyond” and pointing out that it had been Auchinleck’s intention to launch an offensive as soon as the Eighth Army was “rested and regrouped”. Montgomery was stripped of his honorary citizenship of Montgomery, Alabama, and was challenged to a duel by an Italian officer.

He twice met Israeli general Moshe Dayan. After an initial meeting in the early 1950s, Montgomery met Dayan again in the 1960s to discuss the Vietnam War, which Dayan was studying. Montgomery was harshly critical of US strategy in Vietnam, which involved deploying large numbers of combat troops, aggressive bombing attacks, and uprooting entire village populations and forcing them into strategic hamlets. Montgomery said that the Americans’ most important problem was that they had no clear-cut objective, and allowed local commanders to set military policy. At the end of their meeting, Montgomery asked Dayan to tell the Americans, in his name, that they were “insane”. In retirement he publicly supported apartheid after a visit to South Africa in 1962, and after a visit to China declared himself impressed by the Chinese leadership.

He spoke out against the legalisation of homosexuality in the United Kingdom, arguing that the Sexual Offences Act 1967 was a “charter for buggery” and that “this sort of thing may be tolerated by the French, but we’re British – thank God”.

During a visit to the Alamein battlefields in May 1967, he bluntly told high-ranking Egyptian Army officers that they would lose any war with Israel, a warning that was shown to be justified only a few weeks later in the Six-Day War.

Death

Montgomery died from unspecified causes in 1976 at his home Isington Mill in Isington, in the County of Hampshire, aged 88. After a funeral at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, his body was buried in Holy Cross churchyard, in Binsted, Hampshire.

His Garter banner, which had hung in St. George’s Chapel in Windsor during his lifetime, is now on display in St Mary’s, Warwick.

Legacy

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Statue of Montgomery in Whitehall, London, by Oscar Nemon, unveiled in 1980
  • Montgomery’s portrait by Frank O. Salisbury (1945) hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.
  • A statue of Montgomery by Oscar Nemon stands outside the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall, alongside those of Field Marshal Lord Slim and Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke.
  • Montgomery gave his name to the French commune Colleville-Montgomery in Normandy.
  • The Imperial War Museum holds a variety of material relating to Montgomery in its collections. These include Montgomery’s Grant command tank (on display in the atrium at the Museum’s London branch), his command caravans as used in North West Europe (on display at IWM Duxford), and his papers are held by the Museum’s Department of Documents. The Museum maintains a permanent exhibition about Montgomery, entitled Monty: Master of the Battlefield.
  • The World Champion Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band from Northern Ireland is named after him.
  • Montgomery’s Rolls-Royce staff car is on display at the Royal Logistic Corps Museum, Deepcut, Surrey.

Honours and awards

Garter-encircled coat of arms of Bernard Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, KG, as displayed on his Order of the Garter stall plate in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, viz. Azure two lions passant guardant between three fleur-de-lis two in chief and one in base and two trefoils in fess all or.

Viscountcy as Montgomery of Alamein (UK, January 1946)
Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter(UK, 1946)
Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath(UK, 1945) KCB – 11 November 1942, CB – 11 July 1940
Companion of the Distinguished Service Order(UK, 1914)
Mentioned in Despatches(UK, 17 February 1915, 4 January 1917, 11 December 1917, 20 May 1918, 20 December 1918, 5 July 1919, 15 July 1939, 24 June 1943, 13 January 1944
Distinguished Service Medal(US, 1947)
Chief Commander of the Legion of Merit(US, 10 August 1943)
Member of the Order of Victory(USSR, 21 June 1945)
1st class of the Order of Suvorov(USSR, 16 January 1947)
Croix de Guerre(France, 1919)
Knight of the Order of the Elephant(Denmark, 2 August 1945)
Grand Commander of the Order of George I(Greece, 20 June 1944)
Silver Cross (V Class) of the Virtuti Militari(Poland, 31 October 1944)
Grand Cross of the Military Order of the White Lion(Czechoslovakia, 1947)
Grand Cordon of the Seal of Solomon (Ethiopia, 1949)
Grand Officer with Palm of the Order of Leopold II(Belgium, 1947)
Croix de Guerre 1940 with Palm(Belgium)
Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion(Netherlands, 16 January 1947)
Grand Cross of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav(Norway) (1951)

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4. Montgomery visits Patton in Palermo, Sicily, July 1943.

6. Wartime photograph of General Sir Bernard Montgomery with his Miles Messenger aircraft (location and date unknown).

2. Montgomery and Soviet Marshals Zhukov and Rokossovsky with General Sokolovsky leave the Brandenburg Gate on 12 July 1945 after being decorated by Montgomery.

1.Lord Montgomery as CIGS with Lord WavellViceroy of India, and Auchinleck, Commander in Chief Indian Army. Delhi 1946

3. The Supreme Commanders on 5 June 1945 in Berlin: Bernard Montgomery, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Georgy Zhukov and Jean de Lattre de Tassigny

5. Lieutenant General Bernard Montgomery, GOC V Corps, with war correspondents during a large-scale exercise in Southern Command, March 1941.

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Background to Jalianwala Bagh Massacre

Hindu–German Conspiracy

The conspiracy was a series of plans between 1914 and 1917 by Indian nationalist groups to attempt Pan-Indian rebellion against the British Raj during World War I, formulated between the Indian revolutionary underground and exiled or self-exiled nationalists who formed, in the United States, the Ghadar Party, and in Germany, the Indian independence committee, in the decade preceding the Great War.

The conspiracy was drawn up at the beginning of the war, with extensive support from the German Foreign Office, the German consulate in San Francisco, as well as some support from Ottoman Turkey and the Irish republican movement. The most prominent plan attempted to foment unrest and trigger a Pan-Indian mutiny in the British Indian Army from Punjab to Singapore. This plot was planned to be executed in February 1915 with the aim of overthrowing British rule over the Indian subcontinent. The February mutiny was ultimately thwarted when British intelligence infiltrated the Ghadarite movement and arrested key figures. Mutinies in smaller units and garrisons within India were also crushed.

Other related events include the

  1. 1915 Singapore Mutiny
  2. the Annie Larsen arms plot
  3. the Jugantar–German plot
  4. the German mission to Kabul
  5. the mutiny of the Connaught Rangers in India, and
  6. the Black Tom explosion in 1916.

Parts of the conspiracy included efforts to subvert the British Indian Army in the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I.

The Indo-German alliance and the conspiracy were the target of a worldwide British intelligence effort, which was successful in preventing further attempts. American intelligence agencies arrested key figures in the aftermath of the Annie Larsen affair in 1917. The conspiracy resulted in the Lahore conspiracy case trials in India as well as the Hindu–German Conspiracy Trial—at the time the longest and most expensive trial ever held in the United States.

This series of events was consequential to the Indian independence movement. Though largely subdued by the end of World War I, it came to be a major factor in reforming the Raj’s Indian policy. Similar efforts were made during World War II in Germany and in Japanese-controlled Southeast Asia, where Subhas Chandra Bose formed the Indische Legion and the Indian National Army respectively, and in Italy where Mohammad Iqbal Shedai formed the Battaglione Azad Hindoustan.

Background

Nationalism had become more and more prominent in India throughout the last decades of the 19th century as a result of the social, economic and political changes instituted in the country through the greater part of the century. The Indian National Congress, founded in 1885, developed as a major platform for loyalists’ demands for political liberalization and for increased autonomy. The nationalist movement grew with the founding of underground groups in the 1890s. It became particularly strong, radical and violent in Bengal and in Punjab, along with smaller but nonetheless notable movements in Maharashtra, Madras and other places of South India. In Bengal the revolutionaries more often than not recruited the educated youth of the urban middle-class Bhadralok community that epitomized the “classic” Indian revolutionary, while in Punjab the rural and military society sustained organized violence.

Indian revolutionary underground

The controversial 1905 partition of Bengal had a widespread political impact. Acting as a stimulus for radical nationalist opinion in India and abroad, it became a focal issue for Indian revolutionaries. Revolutionary organizations like Jugantar and Anushilan Samiti had emerged in the 20th century. Several significant events took place. These included assassinations and attempted assassinations of civil servants, prominent public figures and Indian informants, including one in 1907 aiming to kill the Bengal Lieutenant-Governor Sir Andrew Fraser. Matters came to a head when the 1912 Delhi–Lahore Conspiracy, led by erstwhile Jugantar member Rash Behari Bose, attempted to assassinate the then Viceroy of India, Charles Hardinge. In the aftermath of this event, the British Indian police made concentrated police and intelligence efforts to destroy the Bengali and Punjabi revolutionary underground. Though the movement came under intense pressure for some time, Rash Behari successfully evaded capture for nearly three years. By the time World War I had begun in Europe in 1914, the revolutionary movement had revived in Punjab and Bengal. In Bengal the movement, with a safe haven in the French base of Chandernagore, had sufficient strength to all but paralyse the state administration. The earliest mention of a conspiracy for armed revolution in India appears in Nixon’s Report on Revolutionary Organization, which reported that Jatin Mukherjee (Bagha Jatin) and Naren Bhattacharya had met the Crown Prince of Germany during the latter’s visit to Calcutta in 1912, and obtained an assurance that they would receive supplies of arms and ammunition. At the same time an increasingly strong pan-Islamic movement started developing, mainly in the north and north-west regions of India. With the onset of the war in 1914, the members of this movement formed an important component of the conspiracy.

At the time of the partition of Bengal, Shyamji Krishna Varma founded India House in London and received extensive support from notable expatriate Indians including Madam Bhikaji Cama, Lala Lajpat Rai, S. R. Rana, and Dadabhai Naoroji. The organisation – ostensibly a residence for Indian students – in reality sought to promote nationalist opinion and pro-independence work. India House drew young radical activists of the likes of M.L. Dhingra, V.D. Savarkar, V. N. Chatterjee, M. P. T. Acharya and Lala Har Dayal. It developed links with the revolutionary movement in India and nurtured it with arms, funds and propaganda. The authorities in India banned Indian Sociologist and other literature published by the House as “seditious”. Under V. D. Savarkar’s leadership, the House rapidly developed as a centre for intellectual and political activism and as a meeting- ground for radical revolutionaries among Indian students in Britain, earning the moniker “The most dangerous organisation outside India” from Valentine Chirol. In 1909 in London M. L. Dhingra fatally shot Sir W. H. Curzon Wyllie, political aide-de-camp to the Secretary of State for India. In the aftermath of the assassination, the Metropolitan Police and the Home Office rapidly suppressed India House. Its leadership fled to Europe and to the United States of America. Some (like Chatterjee) moved to Germany; Har Dayal and many others moved to Paris.

Organizations founded in the United States and in Japan emulated the example of London’s India House. Krishna Varma nurtured close interactions with Turkish and Egyptian nationalists and with Clan na Gael in the United States. The joint efforts of Mohammed Barkatullah, S. L. Joshi and George Freeman founded the Pan-Aryan Association — modelled after Krishna Varma’s Indian Home Rule Society — in New York in 1906. Barkatullah himself had become closely associated with Krishna Varma during a previous stay in London, and his subsequent career in Japan put him at the heart of Indian political activities there. Myron Phelp, an acquaintance of Krishna Varma and an admirer of Swami Vivekananda, founded an “India House” in Manhattan in New York in January 1908. Amidst a growing Indian student population, erstwhile members of the India House in London succeeded in extending the nationalist work across the Atlantic. The Gaelic American reprinted articles from the Indian Sociologist, while liberal press-laws allowed free circulation of the Indian Sociologist. Supporters could ship such nationalist literature and pamphlets freely across the world. New York increasingly became an important centre for the Indian movement, such that Free Hindustan— a political revolutionary journal closely mirroring the Indian Sociologist and the Gaelic American published by Taraknath Das—moved in 1908 from Vancouver and Seattle to New York. Das established extensive collaboration with the Gaelic American with help from George Freeman before it was proscribed in 1910 under British diplomatic pressure. This Irish collaboration with Indian revolutionaries resulted in some of the early but failed efforts to smuggle arms into India, including a 1908 attempt on board a ship called the SS Moraitis which sailed from New York for the Persian Gulf before it was searched at Smyrna. The Irish community later provided valuable intelligence, logistics, communication, media, and legal support to the German, Indian, and Irish conspirators. Those involved in this liaison, and later involved in the plot, included major Irish republicans and Irish-American nationalists like John Devoy, Joseph McGarrity, Roger Casement, Éamon de Valera, Father Peter Yorke and Larry de Lacey. These pre-war contacts effectively set up a network which the German foreign office tapped into as war began in Europe.

Ghadar Party

Large-scale Indian immigration to the Pacific coast of North America took place in the 20th century, especially from Punjab, which faced an economic depression. The Canadian government met this influx with legislation aimed at limiting the entry of South Asians into Canada and at restricting the political rights of those already in the country. The Punjabi community had hitherto been an important loyal force for the British Empire and the Commonwealth. The community had expected that its commitment would be honoured with the same welcome and rights which the British and colonial governments extended to British and white immigrants. The restrictive legislation fed growing discontent, protests and anti-colonial sentiments within the community. Faced with increasingly difficult situations, the community began organizing itself into political groups. Many Punjabis also moved to the United States, but they encountered similar political and social problems. Meanwhile, India House and nationalist activism of Indian students had begun declining on the east coast of North America towards 1910, but activity gradually shifted west to San Francisco. The arrival at this time of Har Dayal from Europe bridged the gap between the intellectual agitators in New York and the predominantly Punjabi labour workers and migrants in the west coast, and laid the foundations of the Ghadar movement.

The Ghadar Party, initially the ‘Pacific Coast Hindustan Association’, was formed in 1913 in the United States under the leadership of Har Dayal, with Sohan Singh Bhakna as its president. It drew members from Indian immigrants, largely from Punjab. Many of its members were also from the University of California at Berkeley including Dayal, Tarak Nath Das, Kartar Singh Sarabha and V.G. Pingle. The party quickly gained support from Indian expatriates, especially in the United States, Canada and Asia. Ghadar meetings were held in Los Angeles, Oxford, Vienna, Washington, D.C., and Shanghai.

Ghadar’s ultimate goal was to overthrow British colonial authority in India by means of an armed revolution. It viewed the Congress-led mainstream movement for dominion status modest and the latter’s constitutional methods as soft. Ghadar’s foremost strategy was to entice Indian soldiers to revolt. To that end, in November 1913 Ghadar established the Yugantar Ashram press in San Francisco. The press produced the Hindustan Ghadar newspaper and other nationalist literature.

Towards the end of 1913, the party established contact with prominent revolutionaries in India, including Rash Behari Bose. An Indian edition of the Hindustan Ghadar essentially espoused the philosophies of anarchism and revolutionary terrorism against British interests in India. Political discontent and violence mounted in Punjab, and Ghadarite publications that reached Bombay from California were deemed seditious and banned by the Raj. These events, compounded by evidence of prior Ghadarite incitement in the Delhi-Lahore Conspiracy of 1912, led the British government to pressure the American State Department to suppress Indian revolutionary activities and Ghadarite literature, which emanated mostly from San Francisco.

To be continued.

Courtesy of Wikipedia.org

Bangladesh demographics

Year; Population; Percentage +/-

1971; 67.8; —

1980; 80.6; + 1.94%

1990; 105.3; + 2.71%

2000; 129.6; + 2.10%

2010; 148.7; + 1.38%

2012; 161.1; + 4.09%

Source: OECD/World Bank

Montage of some ethnic groups in Bangladesh. Clockwise from top left: Bengalis, Chakmas, Garos, Santhals

Estimates of the Bangladeshi population vary, but UN data suggests 162,951,560 million. The 2011 census estimated 142.3 million, much less than 2007–2010 estimates of Bangladesh’s population (150–170 million). Bangladesh is the world’s eighth-most-populous nation. In 1951, its population was 44 million. Bangladesh is the most densely-populated large country in the world, ranking 11th in population density when small countries and city-states are included.

The country’s population-growth rate was among the highest in the world in the 1960s and 1970s, when its population grew from 65 to 110 million. With the promotion of birth control in the 1980s, Bangladesh’s growth rate began to slow. Its total fertility rate is now 2.55, lower than India’s (2.58) and Pakistan’s (3.07). The population is relatively young, with 34 percent aged 15 or younger and five percent 65 or older. Life expectancy at birth was estimated at 70 years in 2012. According to the World Bank, as of 2016 14.8% of the country lives below the international poverty line on less than $1.90 per day.

Bengalis are 98 percent of the population. Of Bengalis, Muslims are the majority, followed by Hindus, Christians and Buddhists.

The Adivasi population includes the Chakma, Marma, Tanchangya, Tripuri, Kuki, Khiang, Khumi, Murang, Mru, Chak, Lushei, Bawm, Bishnupriya Manipuri, Khasi, Jaintia, Garo, Santal, Munda and Oraon tribes. The Chittagong Hill Tracts region experienced unrest and an insurgency from 1975 to 1997 in an autonomy movement by its indigenous people. Although a peace accord was signed in 1997, the region remains militarised.

Bangladesh is home to a significant Ismaili community. It hosts many Urdu-speaking immigrants, who migrated there after the partition of India. Stranded Pakistanis were given citizenship by the Supreme Court in 2008.

Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh number at around 1 million, making Bangladesh one of the countries with the largest refugee populations in the world.

Dhaka

Urban centres

Dhaka is Bangladesh’s capital and largest city. There are 12 city corporations which hold mayoral elections: Dhaka South, Dhaka North, Chittagong, Comilla, Khulna, Mymensingh, Sylhet, Rajshahi, Barisal, Rangpur, Gazipur and Narayanganj. Mayors are elected for five-year terms. Altogether there are 506 urban centres in Bangladesh among which 43 cities have a population of more than 100000.

Languages

More than 98 percent of people in Bangladesh speak Bengali, sometimes called Bangla, as their native language.Dialects of Bengali are spoken in some parts of the country, which include non-standard dialects (sometimes viewed as separate languages) such as Chatgaiya, Sylheti and Rangpuri. Pakistani Biharis, stranded since 1971 and living in Bangladeshi camps, speak Urdu. Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, living in Bangladeshi camps since 1978, speak Rohingya. Several indigenous minority languages are also spoken.

Bengali is the official language. However, English is sometimes used secondarily for official purposes (especially in the legal system). Although laws were historically written in English, they were not translated into Bengali until 1987. Bangladesh’s constitution and laws now exist in English and Bengali. English is used as a second language by the middle and upper classes, and is widely used in higher education.

Religion

Montage of religions of Bangladesh. Clockwise from top left: Muslims praying in Baitul Mukarram; a Hindu monk in Dhakeshwari Temple; a Buddhist monk in Buddha Dhatu Jadi; a Bangladeshi Christian cardinal with other cardinals at the Vatican

Religions in Bangladesh in 2011

Religion Percent

Muslim. 90.4%

Hindu 8.5%

Buddhist. 0.6%

Christian. 0.4%

Islam is the largest and the official state religion of Bangladesh, followed by 90.4 percent of the population. The country is home to most Bengali Muslims, the second-largest ethnic group in the Muslim world. The vast majority of Bangladeshi Muslims are Sunni, followed by tiny minorities of Shia and Ahmadiya. About four percent are non-denominational Muslims. Bangladesh has the fourth-largest Muslim population in the world, and is the third-largest Muslim-majority country (after Indonesia and Pakistan). Sufism has a lengthy heritage in the region. The largest gathering of Muslims in Bangladesh is the Bishwa Ijtema, held annually by the Tablighi Jamaat. The Ijtema is the second-largest Muslim congregation in the world, after the Hajj.

Hinduism is followed by 8.5 percent of the population; most are Bengali Hindus, and some are members of ethnic minority groups. Bangladeshi Hindus are the country’s second-largest religious group and the third-largest Hindu community in the world, after those in India and Nepal. Hindus in Bangladesh are fairly evenly distributed, with concentrations in Gopalganj, Dinajpur, Sylhet, Sunamganj, Mymensingh, Khulna, Jessore, Chittagong and parts of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Despite their dwindling numbers, Hindus are the second-largest religious community (after the Muslims) in Dhaka.

Buddhism is the third-largest religion, at 0.6 percent. Bangladeshi Buddhists are concentrated among ethnic groups in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (particularly the Chakma, Marma and Tanchangya peoples), and coastal Chittagong is home to a large number of Bengali Buddhists. Christianity is the fourth-largest religion, at 0.4 percent.

The Constitution of Bangladesh declares Islam the state religion, but bans religion-based politics. It proclaims equal recognition of Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and people of all faiths. In 1972, Bangladesh was South Asia’s first constitutionally-secular country.

Education

Bangladesh has a low literacy rate, which was estimated at 66.5 percent for males and 63.1 percent for females in 2014. The country’s educational system is three-tiered and heavily subsidised, with the government operating many schools at the primary, secondary and higher-secondary levels and subsidising many private schools. In the tertiary-education sector, the Bangladeshi government funds over 15 state universities through the University Grants Commission.

Literacy rates in Bangladesh districts

The education system is divided into five levels: primary (first to fifth grade), junior secondary (sixth to eighth grade), secondary (ninth and tenth grade), higher secondary (11th and 12th grade) and tertiary. Five years of secondary education end with a Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examination; since 2009, the Primary Education Closing (PEC) examination has also been given. Students who pass the PEC examination proceed to four years of secondary or matriculation training, culminating in the SSC examination.

Students who pass the PEC examination proceed to three years of junior-secondary education, culminating in the Junior School Certificate (JSC) examination. Students who pass this examination proceed to two years of secondary education, culminating in the SSC examination. Students who pass this examination proceed to two years of higher-secondary education, culminating in the Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSC) examination.

Education is primarily in Bengali, but English is commonly taught and used. Many Muslim families send their children to part-time courses or full-time religious education in Bengali and Arabic in madrasas.

Bangladesh conforms with the Education For All (EFA) objectives, the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and international declarations. Article 17 of the Bangladesh Constitution provides that all children between the ages of six and ten years receive a basic education free of charge.

Universities in Bangladesh are of three general types: public (government-owned and subsidised), private (privately owned universities) and international (operated and funded by international organisations such). Bangladesh has 34 public, 64 private and two international universities; Bangladesh National University has the largest enrolment, and the University of Dhaka (established in 1921) is the oldest.University of Chittagong (established in 1966) is the largest University (Campus: Rural, 2,100 acres (8.5 km2)) . Islamic University of Technology, commonly known as IUT, is a subsidiary of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC, representing 57 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and South America). Asian University for Women in Chittagong is the preeminent South Asian liberal-arts university for women, representing 14 Asian countries; its faculty hails from notable academic institutions in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East. BUET, CUET, KUET and RUET are Bangladesh’s four public engineering universities. BUTex and DUET are two specialised engineering universities; BUTex specialises in textile engineering, and DUET offers higher education to diploma engineers. The NITER is a specialised public-private partnership institute which provides higher education in textile engineering. Science and technology universities include SUST, PUST, JUST and NSTU. Bangladeshi universities are accredited by and affiliated with the University Grants Commission (UGC), created by Presidential Order 10 in 1973.

Medical education is provided by 29 government and private medical colleges. All medical colleges are affiliated with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Bangladesh’s 2015 literacy rate rose to 71 percent due to education modernisation and improved funding, with 16,087 schools and 2,363 colleges receiving Monthly Pay Order (MPO) facilities. According to education minister Nurul Islam Nahid, 27,558 madrasas and technical and vocational institutions were enlisted for the facility. 6,036 educational institutions were outside MPO coverage, and the government enlisted 1,624 private schools for MPO in 2010.

Health

A typical ambulance service in Bangladesh

Health and education levels remain relatively low, although they have improved as poverty levels have decreased. In rural areas, village doctors with little or no formal training constitute 62 percent of healthcare providers practising “modern medicine”; formally-trained providers make up four percent of the total health workforce. A Future Health Systems survey indicated significant deficiencies in the treatment practices of village doctors, with widespread harmful and inappropriate drug prescribing. Receiving health care from informal providers is encouraged.

A 2007 study of 1,000 households in rural Bangladesh found that direct payments to formal and informal healthcare providers and indirect costs (loss of earnings because of illness) associated with illness were deterrents to accessing healthcare from qualified providers. A community survey of 6,183 individuals in rural Bangladesh found a gender difference in treatment-seeking behaviour, with women less likely to seek treatment than to men. The use of skilled birth attendant (SBA) services, however, rose from 2005 to 2007 among women from all socioeconomic quintiles except the highest. A health watch, a pilot community-empowerment tool, was successfully developed and implemented in south-eastern Bangladesh to improve the uptake and monitoring of public-health services.

Bangladesh’s poor health conditions are attributed to the lack of healthcare provision by the government. According to a 2010 World Bank report, 2009 healthcare spending was 3.35 percent of the country’s GDP. The number of hospital beds is 3 per 10,000 population. Government spending on healthcare that year was 7.9 percent of the total budget; out-of-pocket expenditures totalled 96.5 percent.

Malnutrition has been a persistent problem in Bangladesh, with the World Bank ranking the country first in the number of malnourished children worldwide. Twenty-six percent of the population (two-thirds of children under the age of five) are undernourished, and 46 percent of children are moderately or severely underweight. Forty-three to 60 percent of children under five are smaller than normal; one in five preschool children are vitamin-A deficient, and one in two are anaemic. More than 45 percent of rural families and 76 percent of urban families were below the acceptable caloric-intake level.

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Bengal Culture

Visual Arts

The recorded history of art in Bangladesh can be traced to the 3rd century BCE, when terracotta sculptures were made in the region. In classical antiquity, a notable school of sculptural Hindu, Jain and Buddhist art developed in the Pala Empire and the Sena dynasty. Islamic art evolved since the 14th century. The architecture of the Bengal Sultanate saw a distinct style of domed mosques with complex niche pillars that had no minarets. Mughal Bengal’s most celebrated artistic tradition was the weaving of Jamdani motifs on fine muslin, which is now classified by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage. Jamdani motifs were similar to Iranian textile art (buta motifs) and Western textile art (paisley). The Jamdani weavers in Dhaka received imperial patronage. Ivory and brass were also widely used in Mughal art. Pottery is widely used in Bengali culture.

The modern art movement in Bangladesh took shape during the 1950s, particularly with the pioneering works of Zainul Abedin. East Bengal developed its own modernist painting and sculpture traditions, which were distinct from the art movements in West Bengal. The Art Institute Dhaka has been an important centre for visual art in the region. Its annual Bengali New Year parade was enlisted as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2016.

Modern Bangladesh has produced many of South Asia’s leading painters, including :

• SM Sultan

• Mohammad Kibria

• Shahabuddin Ahmed

• Kanak Chanpa Chakma

• Kafil Ahmed

• Saifuddin Ahmed

• Qayyum Chowdhury

• Rashid Choudhury

• Quamrul Hassan

• Rafiqun Nabi

• Syed Jahangir

among others. Novera Ahmed and Nitun Kundu were the country’s pioneers of modernist sculpture. The Chobi Mela is the largest photography festival in Asia.

Literature

Serious discussions

The oldest evidence of writing in Bangladesh is the Mahasthan Brahmi Inscription, which dates back to the 3rd century BCE in the Gupta Empire, Sanskrit literature thrived in the region. Bengali developed from Sanskrit and Magadhi Prakrit in the from the 8th to 10th century. Bengali literature is a millennium-old tradition; the Charyapadas are the earliest examples of Bengali poetry.

Sufi spiritualism inspired many Bengali Muslim writers. During the Bengal Sultanate, medieval Bengali writers were influenced by Arabic and Persian works. The Chandidas are the notable lyric poets from the early Medieval Age. Syed Alaol was a noted secular poet and translator from the Arakan region. The Bengal Renaissance shaped the emergence of modern Bengali literature, including novels, short stories and science fiction.

Rabindranath Tagore was the first non-European laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature and is described as the Bengali Shakespeare.

Kazi Nazrul Islam was a revolutionary poet who espoused political rebellion against colonialism and fascism.

Begum Rokeya is regarded as the pioneer feminist writer of Bangladesh.

Other renaissance icons included

• Michael Madhusudan Dutt

• Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay.

The writer Syed Mujtaba Ali is noted for his cosmopolitan Bengali worldview. Jasimuddin was a renowned pastoral poet. Shamsur Rahman was the poet laureate of Bangladesh for many years.

• Al Mahmud is considered one of the greatest Bengali poets to have emerged in the 20th century.

Farrukh Ahmed, Sufia Kamal, and Nirmalendu Goon are important figures of modern Bangladeshi poetry.

• Ahmed Sofa is regarded as the most important Bangladeshi intellectual in the post-independence era.

• Humayun Ahmed was a popular writer of modern Bangladeshi magical realism and science fiction.

Notable writers of Bangladeshi fictions include

• Mir Mosharraf Hossain

• Akhteruzzaman Elias

• Syed Waliullah

• Shahidullah Kaiser

• Shawkat Osman

• Selina Hossain

• Taslima Nasreen

• Haripada Datta

• Razia Khan

• Anisul Hoque

• Bipradash Barua.

Many Bangladeshi writers, such as Muhammad Zafar Iqbal, and Farah Ghuznavi are acclaimed for their short stories.

The annual Ekushey Book Fair and Dhaka Literature Festival, organised by the Bangla Academy, are among the largest literary festivals in South Asia.

Women of Bangladesh

Irene Khan, Secretary General Amnesty International 2007

Although, as of 2015, several women occupied major political office in Bangladesh, its women continue to live under a patriarchal social regime where violence is common. Whereas in India and Pakistan women participate less in the workforce as their education increases, the reverse is the case in Bangladesh.

Bengal has a long history of feminist activism dating back to the 19th century. Begum Rokeya and Faizunnessa Chowdhurani played an important role in emancipating Bengali Muslim women from purdah, prior to the country’s division, as well as promoting girls’ education. Several women were elected to the Bengal Legislative Assembly in the British Raj. The first women’s magazine, Begum, was published in 1948.

In 2008, Bangladeshi female workforce participation stood at 26%. Women dominate blue collar jobs in the Bangladeshi garment industry. Agriculture, social services, healthcare and education are also major occupations for Bangladeshi women, while their employment in white collar positions has steadily increased.

Architecture

The architectural traditions of Bangladesh have a 2,500-year-old heritage. Terracotta architecture is a distinct feature of Bengal. Pre-Islamic Bengali architecture reached its pinnacle in the Pala Empire, when the Pala School of Sculptural Art established grand structures such as the Somapura Mahavihara. Islamic architecture began developing under the Bengal Sultanate, when local terracotta styles influenced medieval mosque construction. The Adina Mosque of united Bengal was the largest mosque built on the Indian subcontinent.

The Sixty Dome Mosque was the largest medieval mosque built in Bangladesh, and is a fine example of Turkic-Bengali architecture. The Mughal style replaced indigenous architecture when Bengal became a province of the Mughal Empire and influenced the development of urban housing. The Kantajew Temple and Dhakeshwari Temple are excellent examples of late medieval Hindu temple architecture. Indo-Saracenic Revival architecture, based on Indo-Islamic styles, flourished during the British period. The zamindar gentry in Bangladesh built numerous Indo-Saracenic palaces and country mansions, such as the Ahsan Manzil, Tajhat Palace, Dighapatia Palace, Puthia Rajbari and Natore Rajbari.

The bungalow, which originated in Bengal, is a common sight. The roof style seen in the picture is common in the hilly areas of Sylhet and Chittagong

Bengali vernacular architecture is noted for pioneering the bungalow. Bangladeshi villages consist of thatched roofed houses made of natural materials like mud, straw, wood and bamboo. In modern times, village bungalows are increasingly made of tin.

Muzharul Islam was the pioneer of Bangladeshi modern architecture. His varied works set the course of modern architectural practice in the country. Islam brought leading global architects, including Louis Kahn, Richard Neutra, Stanley Tigerman, Paul Rudolph, Robert Boughey and Konstantinos Doxiadis, to work in erstwhile East Pakistan. Louis Kahn was chosen to design the National Parliament Complex in Sher-e-Bangla Nagar. Kahn’s monumental designs, combining regional red brick aesthetics, his own concrete and marble brutalism and the use of lakes to represent Bengali geography, are regarded as one of the masterpieces of the 20th century. In more recent times, award-winning architects like Rafiq Azam have set the course of contemporary architecture by adopting influences from the works of Islam and Kahn.

Performing Arts

Theatre in Bangladesh includes various forms with a history dating back to the 4th century CE. It includes narrative forms, song and dance forms, supra-personae forms, performances with scroll paintings, puppet theatre and processional forms. The Jatra is the most popular form of Bengali folk theatre. The dance traditions of Bangladesh include indigenous tribal and Bengali dance forms, as well as classical Indian dances, including the Kathak, Odissi and Manipuri dances.

The music of Bangladesh features the Baul mystical tradition, listed by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Numerous lyric-based musical traditions, varying from one region to the next, exist, including Gombhira, Bhatiali and Bhawaiya. Folk music is accompanied by a one-stringed instrument known as the ektara. Other instruments include the dotara, dhol, flute, and tabla. Bengali classical music includes Tagore songs and Nazrul geeti. Bangladesh has a rich tradition of Indian classical music, which uses instruments like the sitar, tabla, sarod and santoor. Musician Ayub Bachchu is credited with popularising Bengali rock music in Bangladesh.

Textiles

A woman wearing jamdani in 1787. Bengal has manufactured textiles for many centuries, as recorded in ancient hand-written and printed documents.

The Nakshi Kantha is a centuries-old embroidery tradition for quilts, said to be indigenous to eastern Bengal (i.e. Bangladesh). The sari is the national dress for Bangladeshi women. Mughal Dhaka was renowned for producing the finest Muslin saris, including the famed Dhakai and Jamdani, the weaving of which is listed by UNESCO as one of the masterpieces of humanity’s intangible cultural heritage. Bangladesh also produces the Rajshahi silk. The shalwar kameez is also widely worn by Bangladeshi women. In urban areas some women can be seen in western clothing. The kurta and sherwani are the national dress of Bangladeshi men; the lungi and dhoti are worn by them in informal settings. Aside from ethnic wear, domestically tailored suits and neckties are customarily worn by the country’s men in offices, in schools and at social events.

The handloom industry supplies 60–65% of the country’s clothing demand. The Bengali ethnic fashion industry has flourished in the changing environment of the fashion world. The retailer Aarong is one of the most successful ethnic wear brands in South Asia. The development of the Bangladesh textile industry, which supplies leading international brands, has promoted the production and retail of modern Western attire locally, with the country now having a number of expanding local brands like Westecs and Yellow. Bangladesh is the world’s second largest garments exporter.

Among Bangladesh’s fashion designers, Bibi Russell has received international acclaim for her “Fashion for Development” shows.

Cuisine

White rice is the staple of Bangladeshi cuisine, along with many vegetables and lentils. Rice preparations also include Bengali biryanis, pulaos, and khichuris. Mustard sauce, ghee, sunflower oil and fruit chutneys are widely used in Bangladeshi cooking. Fish is the main source of protein in Bengali cuisine. The Hilsa is the national fish and immensely popular across Bangladesh. Other kinds of fish eaten include rohu, butterfish, catfish, tilapia and barramundi. Fish eggs are a gourmet delicacy. Seafood holds an important place in Bengali cuisine, especially lobsters, shrimps and dried fish. Meat consumption includes chicken, beef, mutton, venison, duck and squab. In Chittagong, Mezban feasts are a popular tradition featuring the serving of hot beef curry. In Sylhet, the shatkora lemons are used to marinate dishes. In the tribal Hill Tracts, bamboo shoot cooking is prevalent. Bangladesh has a vast spread of desserts, including distinctive sweets like Rôshogolla, Rôshomalai, Chomchom, Mishti Doi and Kalojaam. Pithas are traditional boiled desserts made with rice or fruits. Halwa is served during religious festivities. Naan, paratha, luchi and bakarkhani are the main local breads. Black tea is offered to guests as a gesture of welcome. Kebabs are widely popular across Bangladesh, particularly seekh kebabs, chicken tikka and shashliks.

Bangladesh shares its culinary heritage with the neighbouring Indian state of West Bengal. The two regions have several differences, however. In Muslim-majority Bangladesh, meat consumption is greater; whereas in Hindu-majority West Bengal, vegetarianism is more prevalent. The Bangladeshi diaspora dominates the South Asian restaurant industry in many Western countries, particularly in the United Kingdom.

Festivals

The annual Bengali New Year parade

Pohela Boishakh, the Bengali new year, is the major festival of Bengali culture and sees widespread festivities. Of the major holidays celebrated in Bangladesh, only Pohela Boishakh comes without any preexisting expectations (specific religious identity, culture of gift-giving, etc.). Unlike holidays like Eid al-Fitr, where dressing up in lavish clothes has become a norm, or Christmas where exchanging gifts has become an integral part of the holiday, Pohela Boishakh is really about celebrating the simpler, rural roots of the Bengal. As a result, more people can participate in the festivities together without the burden of having to reveal one’s class, religion, or financial capacity. Other cultural festivals include Nabonno, and Poush Parbon both of which are Bengali harvest festivals.

The Muslim festivals of Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, Milad un Nabi, Muharram, Chand Raat, Shab-e-Barat; the Hindu festivals of Durga Puja, Janmashtami and Rath Yatra; the Buddhist festival of Buddha Purnima, which marks the birth of Gautama Buddha, and Christian festival of Christmas are national holidays in Bangladesh and see the most widespread celebrations in the country.

Alongside are national days like the remembrance of 21 February 1952 Language Movement Day (International Mother Language Day), Independence Day and Victory Day. On Language Movement Day, people congregate at the Shaheed Minar in Dhaka to remember the national heroes of the Bengali Language Movement, and at the Jatiyo Smriti Soudho on Independence Day and Victory Day to remember the national heroes of the Bangladesh Liberation War. These occasions are observed with public ceremonies, parades, rallies by citizens, political speeches, fairs, concerts, and various other public and private events, celebrating the history and traditions of Bangladesh. TV and radio stations broadcast special programs and patriotic songs, and many schools and colleges organise fairs, festivals, and concerts that draw the participation of citizens from all levels of Bangladeshi society.

Sports

The Bangladesh cricket team celebrating the fall of a wicket against Zimbabwe

Cricket is one of the most popular sports in Bangladesh, followed by football. The national cricket team participated in their first Cricket World Cup in 1999, and the following year was granted elite Test cricket status. They have however struggled, recording only ten test match victories: one against Australia, one against England, one against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka, five against Zimbabwe (one in 2005, one in 2013 in Zimbabwe, and three in 2014), two in a 2–0 series victory over the West Indies in the West Indies in 2009. Six of Bangladesh’s ten test match victories came in between the years 2014 to 2017.

The team has been more successful in One Day International cricket (ODI). They reached the quarter-final of the 2015 Cricket World Cup. They also reached the semi-final of the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy. They whitewashed Pakistan in a home ODI series in 2015 followed by home ODI series wins against India and South Africa. They also won home ODI series by 4–0 in 2010 against New Zealand and whitewashed them in the home ODI series in 2013. In July 2010, they celebrated their first-ever win over England in England.

In late 2012, they won a five-match home ODI series 3-2 against a full-strength West Indies National team.

In 2011, Bangladesh successfully co-hosted the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 with India and Sri Lanka. They also hosted the 2014 ICC World Twenty20 championship. Bangladesh hosted the Asia Cup on four occasions in 2000, 2012, 2014, and 2016.

In 2012 Asia Cup, Bangladesh beat India and Sri Lanka but lost the final game against Pakistan. However, it was the first time Bangladesh had advanced to the final of any top-class international cricket tournament. They reached the final again at the 2016 Asia Cup and 2018 Asia Cup. They participated at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, defeating Afghanistan to claim their Gold Medal in the first-ever cricket tournament held in the Asian Games. Bangladeshi cricketer Sakib Al Hasan is No.1 on the ICC’s all-rounder rankings in all three formats of the cricket.

Women’s sports saw tremendous progress in the 2010s decade in Bangladesh. In 2018 the Bangladesh women’s national cricket team the 2018 Women’s Twenty20 Asia Cup defeating India women’s national cricket team in the final.

Kabaddi—very popular in Bangladesh—is the national game. Other popular sports include field hockey, tennis, badminton, handball, football, chess, shooting, angling. The National Sports Council regulates 42 different sporting federations. On 4 November 2018, Bangladesh national under-15 football team won the 2018 SAFF U-15 Championship, defeating Pakistan national under-15 football team in the final. Bangladesh has five grandmasters in chess. Among them, Niaz Murshed was the first grandmaster in South Asia. In another achievement, Margarita Mamun, a Russian rhythmic gymnast of Bangladeshi origin, won gold medal in 2016 Summer Olympics and became world champion in the years 2013 and 2014.

Media and Cinema

Anwar Hossain in the film “Nawab Sir

The Bangladeshi press is diverse, outspoken and privately owned. Over 200 newspapers are published in the country. Bangladesh Betar is the state-run radio service. The British Broadcasting Corporation operates the popular BBC Bangla news and current affairs service. Bengali broadcasts from Voice of America are also very popular. Bangladesh Television (BTV) is the state-owned television network. There more than 20 privately owned television networks, including several news channels. Freedom of the media remains a major concern, due to government attempts at censorship and the harassment of journalists.

The cinema of Bangladesh dates back to 1898, when films began screening at the Crown Theatre in Dhaka. The first bioscope on the subcontinent was established in Dhaka that year. The Dhaka Nawab Family patronized the production of several silent films in the 1920s and 30s. In 1931, the East Bengal Cinematograph Society released the first full-length feature film in Bangladesh, titled the Last Kiss. The first feature film in East Pakistan, Mukh O Mukhosh, was released in 1956. During the 1960s, 25–30 films were produced annually in Dhaka. By the 2000s, Bangladesh produced 80–100 films a year. While the Bangladeshi film industry has achieved limited commercial success, the country has produced notable independent filmmakers. Zahir Raihan was a prominent documentary-maker who was assassinated in 1971. The late Tareque Masud is regarded as one of Bangladesh’s outstanding directors due to his numerous productions on historical and social issues. Masud was honored by FIPRESCI at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival for his film The Clay Bird. Tanvir Mokammel, Mostofa Sarwar Farooki, Humayun Ahmed, Alamgir Kabir, and Chashi Nazrul Islam are some of the prominent directors of Bangladeshi cinema. Bangladesh have very active film society culture. its started in 1963 at Dhaka. Now around 40 Film Society active in all over Bangladesh. Federation of Film Societies of Bangladesh is the parent organization of the film society movement of Bangladesh. Active film societies include the Rainbow Film Society, Children’s Film Society, Moviyana Film Society & Dhaka University Film Society.

Museums and Libraries

Museum in old Dhaka

The Varendra Research Museum is the oldest museum in Bangladesh. It houses important collections from both the pre-Islamic and Islamic periods, including the sculptures of the Pala-Sena School of Art and the Indus Valley Civilization; as well as Sanskrit, Arabic and Persian manuscripts and inscriptions. The Ahsan Manzil, the former residence of the Nawab of Dhaka, is a national museum housing collections from the British Raj. It was the site of the founding conference of the All India Muslim League and hosted many British Viceroys in Dhaka.

The Tajhat Palace Museum preserves artifacts of the rich cultural heritage of North Bengal, including Hindu-Buddhist sculptures and Islamic manuscripts. The Mymensingh Museum houses the personal antique collections of Bengali aristocrats in central Bengal. The Ethnological Museum of Chittagong showcases the lifestyle of various tribes in Bangladesh. The Bangladesh National Museum is located in Ramna, Dhaka and has a rich collection of antiquities. The Liberation War Museum documents the Bangladeshi struggle for independence and the 1971 genocide.

In ancient times, manuscripts were written on palm leaves, tree barks, parchment vellum and terracotta plates and preserved at monasteries known as viharas. The Hussain Shahi dynasty established royal libraries during the Bengal Sultanate. Libraries were established in each district of Bengal by the zamindar gentry during the Bengal Renaissance in the 19th century. The trend of establishing libraries continued until the beginning of World War II. In 1854, four major public libraries were opened, including the Bogra Woodburn Library, the Rangpur Public Library, the Jessore Institute Public Library and the Barisal Public Library.

The Northbrook Hall Public Library was established in Dhaka in 1882 in honour of Lord Northbrook, the Governor-General. Other libraries established in the British period included the Victoria Public Library, Natore (1901), the Sirajganj Public Library (1882), the Rajshahi Public Library (1884), the Comilla Birchandra Library (1885), the Shah Makhdum Institute Public Library, Rajshahi (1891), the Noakhali Town Hall Public Library (1896), the Prize Memorial Library, Sylhet (1897), the Chittagong Municipality Public Library (1904) and the Varendra Research Library (1910). The Great Bengal Library Association was formed in 1925. The Central Public Library of Dhaka was established in 1959. The National Library of Bangladesh was established in 1972. The World Literature Centre founded by Ramon Magsaysay Award winner Abdullah Abu Sayeed, is noted for operating numerous mobile libraries across Bangladesh and was awarded the UNESCO Jon Amos Comenius Medal.

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Wavell and the Dying Days of the Raj

A critical and historical understanding of Lord Archibald Wavell’s viceroyalty (Oct.1943-Mar.1947) is important for understanding the rational dynamics amongst the three leading political actors of that time, the British, the Hindus and the Muslims. The study focuses primarily on Lord Wavell’s response to Muslim politics in India in the 1940s. The hypothesis of this study is that Lord Wavell was against the demand for Pakistan, because he believed that India was a natural geographic unit and could be preserved as such. Therefore during his viceroyalty he struggled to achieve that aim, and floated and backed schemes that tried to preserve the union of India such as his Wavell Plan, the Cabinet Mission Plan and the. Breakdown Plan. However, Pakistan emerged despite Wavell’s attempt to sidetrack it. It is important to note that although Pakistan came into being almost six decades ago, it still faces the effects of the problems it inherited from the decisions taken by the last two British viceroys.

Wavell’s viceroyalty was significant and decisive because of the developments that led to a sudden British exit from India under his successor. Wavell struggled from the start of his viceroyalty to keep India united. He suggested that India should be granted independence by March 1948 and in keeping with timeframe, he suggested appropriate plans for an orderly. British retreat from India before they were forcibly thrown out by the ever increasing strength of the Indian political awakening. However, by the end of Wavell’s term, Congress had become convinced by its experiences, especially by its participation in the Interim Government that the partition of India was the only way out from a very complex situation.

Among the immediate problems that Wavell was faced with, were: firstly, the need to carry the war with Japan to a decisive and speedy victory; secondly, to deal with the Bengal famine; thirdly, to deal with the day to day issues of the Indian Government; and finally, to break the political deadlock in India, which was his most important concern.

Right from the beginning of his term, Wavell saw a variety of complex problems littering the Indian political scene. The main ones were the following:

  1. Hindu-Muslim friction, which had entered its final phase, in the 1940s.
  2. The Muslim League demand for a separate homeland for the Muslims based on the two-nation theory and the multifarious political complexities it had given rise to.
  3. This demand (for Pakistan) had divided the Muslims into two groups, its supporters and detractors, which were as sharply opposed to each other as were the Muslim League and the Congress. Additionally the Cripps Proposals had been rejected both by the Congress and the League at a critical juncture of the Second World War and the British Government was not ready to break the political impasse.
  4. Muslim politics in India had become quite complicated, for a number of political parties and groups with conflicting ideas and divergent programs had emerged on the political landscape. Uslim parties like the Unionist Party, the Khudai Khidmatgars, and the Majlis-i-Ahmar, were strongly against the Pakistan demand.

He wanted to take steps to end it whereas Whitehall had no intentions of doing so. He felt that the smooth running of administration during the war required co-operation from major political parties. Therefore he wanted to constitute an Executive Council consisting of their representatives, however, the authorities in London did not concur with his planning. They advised Wavell to wait until an appropriate moment for that move; he had to wait until the defeat of Germany for such a green signal.

At the beginning of the Simla Conference (1945), there were signs that it would succeed as Indian National Congress had accepted the parity principle between the Caste-Hindus and Muslims and agreed not to nominate any Muslims either. Wavell’s insistence on accommodating Khizar Hayat Tiwana’s (Premier of Punjab) right to nominate a Muslim to the Executive Council, however, led to his differences with the Muslim League, which in turn led to the failure of the Simla Conference.

This break with the Muslim League produced a situation which in its turn also dealt a strong blow to his dream of cooperative team work between the Muslim League and the Congress in the Executive Council. The complex situation which resulted was too much for even a man of Wavell’s capabilities and perforce he had to declare the Simla Conference a failure.

However, the Simla Conference is of immense political importance from the Muslim League’s point of view. It helped to establish two main points: firstly, it established Jinnah as the sole and undisputed leader of the Indian Muslims; secondly, it also proved that the Muslim League was the most powerful and unmatched political representative of the Muslims. For the Muslims, the acceptance of the principle that they would get representation equal to the Caste-Hindus was in essence recognition of the Two-Nation Theory. Flush with confidence on both counts, Jinnah asked the Viceroy to announce the holding of the general elections to verify the respective claims of the League and the Congress. In spite of this, in retrospect, Jinnah once described the Simla Conference as a snare for the goals of Muslims in India, in the failure of which lay the seeds of the future making of Pakistan.

In England, the Labour Party, which had promised to grant India independence, had won the elections and come into power. Also, with the end of the Second World War, they wanted to hand over power to the elected representatives, something which was close to the heart of neither the Congress nor the Viceroy, each for their own reason. Congress leadership was not in favour of calling a quick election because they felt that having been incarcerated for the duration of the war they had lost touch with the masses. Wavell, on his side, felt the elections would only help to create further divisions between the two main communities in India and wanted to initiate another effort at reconciliation between them in the form of their joint participation and effort at working together in the Executive Council.

Following the elections to the central and provincial assemblies in 1945-46, both the Muslim League and the Congress gained decisive victories in their respective constituencies. This substantiated Wavell’s fears that elections would only help to widen the gulf between them, the two leading communities instead of bridging it.

The Muslim League had proved its case as the sole authoritative representative of the Muslims of India whose main demand was for a separate homeland, but neither His Majesty’s Government nor Wavell wanted such a solution to India’s independence. Therefore, they decided to send a mission comprising of three cabinet ministers of the British Parliament to India. The mission’s aim was to try to bridge the political gulf between the two main parties with the aim of transferring the power in India to the elected representatives of the people. It was also supposed to seek an agreement with Indian leaders on the principles and procedures to be followed in framing a constitution for an independent but united India. The mission was known as the Cabinet Mission.

The cabinet delegation and Wavell worked hard to achieve their goal but bereft of any executive powers they failed in their attempt to bring about a negotiated settlement between the two major parties. To break the political impasse they presented their own constitutional scheme for India known to history as the Cabinet Mission Plan (1946).

The Cabinet Mission Plan as presented consisted of two parts, a long-term part and a short-term one. Although initially hesitant, Jinnah was able to convince the League leadership that accepting the plan in full would be in the interest of Muslims at large. The Congress on the other hand, accepted the long-term part of the plan only upon the persuasion of Lords Stafford Cripps and Pethick Lawrence. However, their acceptance seemed to lack sincerity as they started nitpicking and raising objections in spite of the fact that the Cabinet Mission had stated clearly upon its presentation that their plan ha to be accepted or rejected ‘as is’ without any modifications.

As far as Wavell was concerned the scheme though containing a ‘grouping’ clause did not defer to the demand for ‘Pakistan’ as stated by the Muslim League in its Lahore Resolution of 1940. This was exactly what Congress had in mind when it had stated that it was totally opposed to any scheme for the division of India. However, in the end, both His Majesty’s Government and the Congress united to defeat Wavell’s attempt to keep India united via the Cabinet Mission Plan.

Jinnah and the League had accepted the plan in full because they felt that it contained the seed and substance of ‘Pakistan’ as envisioned in the Lahore Resolution. In addition Jinnah was afraid that the increasing Hindu-Muslim bitterness might lead to full-scale civil war which he wanted to avoid at all cost.

Congress remained complacent on the Pakistan issue and preferred to focus on the freedom of india to grab power without caring whatsoever about the cost involved to attain such a goal. Congress considered not only the unity of India vital but also wanted the unitary form of government in the long run which could guarantee economic and industrial development. If these objects were missing, it was ready to allow the League to have Pakistan but of its, i.e. Congress’s choice. Congress demanded that the provinces should be given the choice to opt out from the groups which would help her getting Assam and NWFP provinces in Hindustan. This demand was fantastic claptrap. Likewise, its attitude towards the demand for Pakistan, which was based on the ‘two nation’ theory, remained one of self-deception and negation of principles of nationalism which led into making wrong calculations and judgements at an extremely crucial period of Indian history. At a time when their thoughts, words, and actions could lead to some repercussions, Congress leaders like Gandhi, Patel and Nehru used them extravagantly and, more importantly, without a sense of timing.

Wavell tried by all means to achieve his objective of sidetracking the demand for Pakistan and maintaining the unity of India without prejudice to the interests of Muslims in a united India. He believed that, if established, a coalition government consisting of the Congress and the League would be able to solve the communal and constitutional problems facing India. However, because of the wide gulf separating the political parties, Wavell’s vision of a coalition government soon began to fade.

Wavell, himself could not be fully absolved of the responsibility for the failure of the Cabinet Mission Plan. The complex political situation put his sense of impartiality and fair play to the test and he was found wanting. He broke the pledge given to the League of allowing it to form the government without the participation of the Congress but then allowed the Congress to form an Interim Government on the same lines, but without the League’s participation.

After the formation of the Interim Government by the Congress, Wavell felt that it was imperative to bring the League into the government to prevent a wider catastrophe from engulfing India especially following the Direct Action Day killings in Calcutta (August 1946). He also felt that rule by Congress alone would definitely lead to the division of India. He, therefore, in spite of opposition from His Majesty’s Government and the Congress worked to bring the League into the Interim Government.

However, the formation of the Interim Government which Wavell was able to achieve at the centre eventually caused more harm than good to his dream of a united India. He had felt that the Congress would refrain from repeating the blunder it had committed in 1937 by not forming coalition governments in the provinces. That step had caused great damage to the communal harmony in the country and had forced the Muslim League to adopt the Lahore Resolution in 1940; he was proved wrong once again. Muslim League knew the true intentions of the Congress High Command, that the main leaders of its Working Committee aimed at establishing a unitary form of government under the slogan of a strong centre in united India.

The coalition Interim Government instead of lessening the political tensions in India helped to increase them as both the League and the Congress declined to work as a team thus exposing their communal agendas. Congress, although a bigger party than the Muslim League, felt frustrated because they were not allowed to act unilaterally, especially because Liaquat Ali Khan, who was the finance member in the Interim Government, created severe problems for the Congress leadership. This forced even Patel to think openly on the lines of partition as the best political solution for India, something which Congress had tacitly accepted since the Rajagopalachari formula of 1942.

The Muslim League which had withdrawn its acceptance of the Cabinet Mission Plan, joined the Interim Government with the promise that they would accept it. Wavell failed to force the Muslim League either to attend the Constituent Assembly or to resign from the Interim Government. He, as an honest, impartial and keen observer was convinced that unless the Muslim League got a clear-cut statement from the Congress and His Majesty’s Government regarding Grouping, it would not accept the long-term part of the Cabinet Mission Plan and would not attend the Constituent Assembly’s meetings. The Congress had been demanding Wavell’s dismissal since August 1946, the Labour Party also considered him a spent force. But the fact was that Wavell was neither acceptable to the Congress nor the British Government for he was too impartial and honest. For the League, he failed to deliver the goods. In fact,he was made ineffective by the command and control of Whitehall.

Wavell thought of India as a single geographic unit and, therefore, wished to maintain its unity. This led him not only to denounce but even attempt to derail the demand for Pakistan. Initially he thought of it simply as a bargaining counter and believed that it’s creation could be avoided. However, with the passage of time, after he witnessed the rapidly rising support for the Pakistan demand and increasing popularity of Jinnah as the sole spokesman of the Muslims, he came to the conclusion that it needed to be taken very seriously and dealt with accordingly. This prompted him to suggest to His Majesty’s Government to expose the weaknesses of the Pakistan demand as incorporated in the Lahore Resolution. This was a strategy which he suggested should be adopted before the elections in order to lessen the popularity of the League’s demand; he was not allowed to pursue this course of action.

Following the victory of the Muslim League in the elections, Wavell kept Whitehall thoroughly informed of the latest political developments in India so that when the Cabinet Mission proposed its Plan for India it incorporated all those ideas which Wavell thought would help to keep India united in addition to offering the best constitutional arrangement for safeguarding the rights of the minorities, especially the Muslims, in India. What Wavell disliked was the modus operandi of the Mission’s delegates who tried to sidetrack the Muslim League’s point of view by sometimes openly, and at other times surreptitiously, siding with Congress delegates. These unfair and sometimes underhanded actions of the Cabinet Mission’s delegates aroused fear in Wavell’s mind that the Muslim League just might begin to oppose the Cabinet Mission Plan. At the same time his own position vis a vis the Congress was considerably weakened by such tactics as it came to the conclusion that Wavell could easily be bypassed while taking important decisions concerning India.

While all this activity with regards to the Cabinet Mission Plan was in progress, Wavell was also involved in giving finishing touches to his ‘Breakdown Plan’. Considerable controversy surrounds the aims and objectives of Wavell’s Breakdown Plan. H.M. Close, Narendra Sarila and Victoria Schofield are of the view that Wavell’s Breakdown Plan was designed to give Jinnah a smaller Pakistan. This study shows that Wavell’s Breakdown Plan did not aim at the partition of India. He was forced to draft his plan because of the highly depleted strength of the British military and civil forces which would have been unable to properly assert and maintain government’s control over all of India in case Congress decided to follow up on its threats of civil disobedience as it had during the ‘Quit India’ movement. The main aim of the Breakdown Plan included the following:

1. To implement the Cabinet Mission Plan in full which would involve peaceful transfer of power to the Indians while providing for the safe evacuation of all foreigners and maintenance of a united India after the departure of the British.

2. In case the two leading parties failed to compromise on the Cabinet Mission Plan, he thought that he would pressurize each of the two parties concerned by trying to make them realize that they would fall far short of their eventual aims if they rejected the Cabinet Mission Plan.

3. The third and final phase of his Breakdown Plan envisaged the phased withdrawal of British authority from four of the six Hindu-majority provinces but it would retain full control of the Centre and the Muslim-majority provinces from where he felt, the British still would be in a position to dictate a final and favourable constitutional solution to the political problem.

Whatever the merits of Wavell’s Breakdown Plan, His Majesty’s Government opposed it on the following grounds:

1. They considered it as indicating a case of ‘cut and run’ or a ‘defeatist’ attitude on his part;

2. In spite of their highly weakened positioned, something which was obvious to Wavell, His Majesty’s Government was unwilling to,even entertain the idea of completely cutting its links with India at such short notice.

3. His Majesty’s Government thought that implementation of Wavell’s Breakdown Plan would send a wrong signal to the Congress Party, i.e. this would inevitably lead to the creation of Pakistan and this was something that they were loathe to do under any circumstances.

4. Finally, such a move would have required legislation in the British Parliament and it was highly unlikely that it would get approval in that body. All these moves led to a deterioration of Wavell’s relationship with both His Majesty’s Government and the Congress and led to his dismissal soon after.

However, several of the ideas included by Wavell in his Breakdown Plan, unfortunately, outlived his presence in India. Whereas he had included the partition of Punjab and Bengal in his Breakdown Plan just to impress upon the Muslim League, the futility of its request for a Pakistan based upon the Lahore Resolution. With the aim of keeping India united, his successor, Lord Mountbatten and his team of Hindu advisors namely V.P. Menon and others, actually included them in their partition plans for these two provinces in June-August 1947; this led to the mass migrations and killings of countless innocent people. So those parts of Wavell’s Breakdown Plan which were actually put into practice went squarely against Muslims which was not the way he had intended them to be used in the first place. And finally, his dream of preventing the foundation of Pakistan by offering Muslims sufficient concessions within a united India also failed to materialize.

Courtesy of: Wavell and the Dying Days of the Raj by Muhammad Iqbal Chawla, Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2011

Living out the legacy of his mentor

The Epoch 1990-1993/1997-1999 Going Nuclear

President

  • Ghulam Ishaq Khan 17/8/1988-18/7/1993
  • Farooq Leghari 14/11/1993-2/12/1997
  • Mohammad Rafiq Tarar 1/1/1998-20/6/2001

Prime Minister

Main Nawaz Sharif : 6/11/1990-18/4/1993; 17/2/1997-12/10/1999

Chief of Army Staff

  • General Mirza Aslam Baig 17/8/1988-16/8/1991
  • General Asif Nawaz Janjua 16/8/1991-8/1/1993
  • General Abdul Waheed Kakar 12/1/1993-12/1/1996
  • General Jahangir Karamat 12/1/1996-7/10/1998
  • General Pervez Musharraf 7/10/1998-28/11/2007

Chief Justice

  • Muhammad Afzal Zullah 1/1/1990-18/4/1993
  • Nasim Hassan Shah 18/4/1993-14/4/1994
  • Sajjad Ali Shah 5/6/1994-2/12/1997
  • Ajmal Mian 23/12/1997-30/6/1999
  • Saeed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui 1/7/1999-26/1/2000

Main Nawaz Sharif became the prime minister of the country twice within two decades of the death of General Ziaul Haq, his principal benefactor, and his two terms were like a sequel of the general’s regime. His priorities were theocratisation of the polity, promotion of free enterprise, fulfilment of nuclear ambitions, and assertion of civilian authorities’ rights through centralization of power in himself. While doing the last part, he clashed with the establishment and lost power in the first term, and both authority and freedom in the second one.

For obvious reasons the business community’s interest came first with Nawaz Sharif. Several steps were taken under the label of economic reform, including a tax holiday for some, abolition of restrictions on bringing foreign exchange into the country or taking it out and on maintaining foreign currency accounts, and no questions asked. Privatization of not only nationalized units but also other enterprises, such as PIA and WAPDA, was undertaken with extraordinary zeal. Despite allegations of irregularities these steps increased the prime minister’s popularity in the circles that mattered.

Soon after assuming power in both terms Nawaz Sharif displayed his love for special courts. In the first term, Article 212A that Zia had crafted in 1979 for setting up military courts and which was dropped in 1985. These special courts were not subject to high courts and the Supreme Court and were assailed for being a parallel judicial system.

In the second term, the special courts were rejected by the Supreme Court 10 months after their formation and this became one of the issues in the skirmishes between the prime minister and the Chief Justice. However, an already brutalized public was happy.

Nawaz Sharif also gained in popularity with the masses by using force rather indiscriminately to curb lawlessness in Karachi, and more goodwill when he decided to punish the MQM after Hakim Saeed’s murder by dropping it from the coalition and ordering a crackdown in Karachi.

He also persisted in his campaign against Benazir Bhutto in the first term in the form of President’s references, and against her husband Asif Ali Zardari in the second term through the Ehtesab Cell that he had created to the chagrin of the chief ehtesab commissioner by amending the Ehtesab Act.

Soon after becoming the prime minister in 1990, Nawaz Sharif revived Ziaul Haq’s so-called Islamization drive with a Shariat Enforcement Act, but a major effort in this direction was made in his second term in the shape of the 15th Amendment that had two objectives. First, it sought to add Article 2B to the Constitution declaring Quran and Sunnah to be the supreme law, and, secondly, it proposed that the Constitution could be amended by a simple majority of members present in either house or at a joint session of the parliament.

Countrywide protests forced the government to abandon the second part of the bill and the National Assembly only adopted the proposal to add Article 2B to the basic laws. It read: “The federal government shall be under an obligation to take all steps to enforce the Shariah, to enforce Salat, to administer Zakat, to promote amr bil ma’roof and nahi unil munkar (to prescribe what is right and to forbid what is wrong), to eradicate corruption at all levels, and to provide substantial socio economic justice in accordance with the principles of Islam as laid down in the Quran and Sunnah.”

The bill resembled the Zia sponsored 9th Amendment that was adopted by the National Assembly in 1986, but it was not sent to the Senate and lapsed. Similarly, the 15th Amendment was withheld from the Senate as the government was not sure of its majority there and it too lapsed. The text of the 9th and 15th Amendments is not found in our statute books. Thus ended Nawaz Sharif’s bid to push Zia’s Islamization further and to change the Constitution through a single enactment.

During the second term, several issues – Pakistan’s nuclear ambitions, policy towards India, and the army chief’s desire to steal a military victory over India – got intertwined and offered Nawaz Sharif a mixed bag of joy and disappointment.

He met Indian Premier Inder Kumar Gujral during the SAARC summit and they agreed to be friends. Shortly thereafter, Attal Bihari Vajpayee became the prime minister of India. Among the first things the BJP government did was to carry out five nuclear tests in May 1998 that brought Nawaz Sharif under intense pressure from the people and the military to achieve parity with India in terms of nuclear capability.

Ignoring the strong advice of the country’s main economic patrons and partners, he allowed five nuclear tests on May 28, 1998, and a sixth two days later. This made the prime minister highly popular with the military and the people, but the steps accompanying the blasts, especially freezing of foreign currency accounts that the judiciary eventually overruled, did not.

Vajpayee met Nawaz Sharif in New York and proposed the start of a friendship bus service between India and Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif, with his characteristic impulsiveness, promptly agreed. Vajpayee duly arrived in Lahore by bus in February 1999 and the event did cause a thaw in India Pakistan relations, but it did not yield Nawaz Sharif the political dividend he had expected because the people had not been prepared for the policy shift and the army had not been taken on board.

Then almost from nowhere Kargil happened. The prime minister feigned ignorance of the operation to capture a few Kargil peaks while the army chief, General Pervez Musharraf, maintained that everything had been cleared by his civilian boss. As was expected, India threw its Air Force and heavy guns into the battle and Islamabad got worried. Nawaz Sharif literally forced the US president Bill Clinton to see him on July 4, 1999, the American National Day, and agreed to pull back his troops. The people, fed on stories that Pakistan had always defeated India in armed encounters, were unhappy. Worse, the army top brass put down Nawaz Sharif as a person they could not trust, a perception that was going to cause Nawaz Sharif’s downfall more than once.

Nawaz Sharif’s desire to completely control the government brought him into conflict early in his first term with president Ghulam Ishaq who also considered himself a true inheritor of Ziaul Haq’s mantle.

Among other things he denied the Premier any say in the selection of judges and appointed General Abdul Waheed Kakar as the army chief, following the sudden death of General Asif Nawaz, without informing the prime minister. In April 1993, Nawaz Sharif denounced the president in a TV address and the next day the president dissolved the National Assembly and sent him packing.

The Supreme Court restored Nawaz Sharif in the saddle only 37 days later. His failure to oust the Punjab chief minister, Manzoor Wattoo, who was openly supported by the president, reignited the feud with Ghulam Ishaq. Eventually, the army chief intervened and both vacated their offices in July 1993.

General Kakar, the gentleman general who coveted neither power nor glory for himself, demonstrated that even if the army had to intervene in a political crisis, imposition of military rule was not the only solution, a precedent yet to be emulated.

When Nawaz Sharif regained power in February 1997, the circumstances were wholly in his favour. He had two thirds majority in the National and Punjab assemblies and his party was able to form coalition governments in Sindh and the NWFP (since renamed KP). Armed with heavy mandate, he resumed his drive to eliminate the rival centres of power.

No trouble was expected from president Farooq Leghari with whom Nawaz Sharif was reported to have struck a deal before the PPP government was sacked and who had allegedly facilitated the Sharif brothers’ election in the 1997 elections by amending the ineligibility laws related to loan defaulters. The president was paid off with a Senate ticket for a relative, appointment of a friend as Punjab governor, and obliging Zulfikar Khosa to make up with Leghari.

Having done all that, Nawaz Sharif calmly told a befuddled Leghari of his decision to remove Article 58-2 (B) from the Constitution that was to deprive him of power to sack a government. The formality was completed the next day with the adoption of the 13th Amendment, a step hailed by all democrats.

Meanwhile, the prime minister’s relations with Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah deteriorated. While sparring over the selection of five judges for the Supreme Court, both resorted to bizarre tactics; the PM reduced the Supreme Court strength from 17 judges to 12, hoping to remove the need for new appointments, and the Chief Justice suspended a constitutional amendment. Eventually, the Premier gave in. But the suspension of the 14th Amendment on legislators’ defection, which gave the party bosses the last word, annoyed the prime minister and he declared that while he had ended ‘lotacracy’ the Supreme Court had restored it.

Soon enough, the chief justice hauled up the prime minister for contempt. What followed was incredible. The Supreme Court was stormed by an N-League mob that included several parliamentarians. The chief justice’s appeal for succour was heeded neither by the president nor by the army chief. Eventually, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah was dethroned by his brother judges through a process that is still mentioned in whispers, and ironically enough, he fell a victim to his own judgement in the Al-Jihad Trust case. Before the year 1997 ended, president Leghari resigned to hand Nawaz Sharif his second victory in quick time.

In October 1998, army chief General Jahangir Karamat suggested the formation of a National Security Council. This, too, was first proposed by General Zia and he had inserted an article to this effect in the Constitution, but it was deleted at the time of the bargain over the 8th Amendment on the terms and conditions for lifting martial law in 1985.

Nawaz Sharif asked the army chief to resign and the latter complied with the order (though he had the last laugh when after sometime a National Security Council indeed started functioning).

By the end of 1998, Nawaz Sharif had freed himself of all possible threats from the presidency, the judiciary and the GHQ, and has become the most powerful ruler of Pakistan ever. But he had built a castle on sand. On October 12, 1999, he ordered General Musharraf’s replacement as the army chief by the then ISI chief who had failed to warn him of the officer corps’ decision not to tolerate the ‘humiliation’ of another chief. The Musharraf plane affair was bungled and the army took over. His arrest, conviction for plane hijack and exile to Saudi Arabia for nearly eight years is another story in political wilderness.

Through courtesy:

Living out the legacy of his mentor by I A Rehman.

The writer is a senior political analyst and a human rights activist.

Dawn Nov.18, 2017

Majid Khan, Cricketer

Majid Jahangir Khan is a former cricketer, batsman and captain of the Pakistan cricket team. In his prime, Majid Khan was considered one of the best batsmen in the world, able to decimate any bowling attack, including the mighty West Indian fast bowlers of that era. It is a shame that over an 18-year Test career, he only played in 63 Test matches, primarily because Pakistan played a very limited Test match schedule. Thus, the cricketing world was deprived of the pleasure of watching one of the greatest exponents of batting in the world. Khan’s first-class career spanned 1961 to 1985. Overall, he played 63 Tests for Pakistan, scoring 3,931 runs with 8 centuries, scored over 27,000 first-class runs and made 73 first-class centuries, with 128 fifties. Majid played his last Test for Pakistan in January 1983 against India at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore and his last One Day International (ODI) was in July 1982 against England at Old Trafford, Manchester.

Early life

Born on 28 September 1946 in Ludhiana, in the state of Punjab in India, Khan grew up in Lahore, the capital of the Punjab in Pakistan. His father, Jahangir Khan, had played Test cricket for British India before the independence of Pakistan in 1947. Majid Khan started his career as a pace bowler, but a back injury and doubts over his technique converted him into an off-spin bowler and batsman. He also played for:

  • Glamorgan and Cambridge University in Britain
  • Queensland in Australia
  • Pakistan International Airlines
  • Rawalpindi
  • Punjab

Majid’s father, Dr. Jahangir Khan, famously killed a bird in flight while bowling during an MCC vs. Cambridge University match in 1936. This bird is now part of the permanent MCC museum exhibit at Lord’s Cricket ground. Dr. Jahangir Khan was the Chief Selector of then Board of Control for Cricket in Pakistan (BCCP) when Majid Khan was close to national selection. Dr. Jahangir Khan resigned from his post to maintain the impartiality of the Cricket Board during selection.

International career

Majid’s Test career started in 1964 against Australia at National Stadium, Karachi. Khan is one of only five batsmen (the other four are Trumper, Macartney, Bradman, and Warner) to have scored a century before lunch in a test match, scoring 108 not-out off 112 balls against New Zealand in Karachi during the 1976–77 test series.

Khan made his ODI debut against New Zealand in 1973 at Lancaster Park, New Zealand. He also holds the unique honour of scoring the first one-day century for Pakistan, in an ODI against England at Trent bridge on 31 August 1974. Khan scored 109 from 93 balls with 16 fours and a six.

Majid had played for Lahore since 1961–62 and had made his Test debut against Australia in 1964–65 and toured England and Wales with the 1967 Pakistanis. During a match with Glamorgan, Majid blasted a rapid 147 in 89 minutes, hitting Roger Davis for five sixes in one over. Wilf Wooller, the club secretary, had been a close friend of Majid’s father when Dr Jahangir Khan had been up at Cambridge, and the influential Glamorgan secretary persuaded Glamorgan county to sign him as the overseas player from 1968.

In 1972 he won the Walter Lawrence Trophy for the season’s fastest century which he scored in 70 minutes for Glamorgan against Warwickshire. He captained the Welsh county between 1973 and 1976, scored over 9000 runs punctuated with 21 first-class centuries for them. Imran Khan, the legendary Pakistani ex-captain and fast bowler, and Javed Burki are his cousins. Bazid Khan, Majid’s son, has also played for Pakistan, making the family the second, after the Headleys, to have three consecutive generations of Test cricketers.

Initially, Majid Khan continued to boost Pakistan’s middle order, until he was promoted to fill the opener’s slot with Sadiq Mohammad in 1974. He was the first century scorer for Pakistan in One Day International Cricket, scoring 108 runs against England at Trent Bridge, Nottingham in the same season. Majid Khan was also a specialist slip fielder and made most catches look easy. Khan was also well known as a “walker”, maintaining the standards of the game in an era when professionalism was straining at the game’s traditional etiquette.

The 1976–77 tour of West Indies was the most remarkable period for Majid Khan, where he scored 530 Test runs against one of the most powerful bowling attacks in the history of the game. His best innings was perhaps the 167 in Pakistan’s second innings at Georgetown that saved Pakistan from likely defeat. Pakistan lost that series 2–1.

On 30 October 1976, while playing against New Zealand in Karachi, he became only the fourth cricketer to score a century before lunch on the first day of a Test match, after Victor Trumper, Charlie Macartney and Don Bradman.

After retirement from International Cricket, Khan became an administrator with the Pakistan Cricket Board, becoming the CEO of the board in mid-1990s.

He now lives in Islamabad.

Courtesy: Wikipedia.org