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Churchill v Monty - letters reveal spat between legendary British leaders

Posted on 11/10/2018 in Press Coverage

Political spats dominate the headlines today and a Winston Churchill letter just unearthed show it’s nothing new.

In the letter, the legendary British wartime leader took Second World War general, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery – known as Monty – to task over his criticism of the government.

The signed Churchill letter, dated April 28, 1947, dished up a hostile response to a letter from Field Marshal Montgomery addressed to Sir John Anderson, 1st Viscount Waverley, who forwarded Monty's letter to Churchill for his perusal.

In the note marked ‘private’, Churchill wrote: 'Thank you for sending me Montgomery's letter. I think he would do much better to keep clear of politics, of which he knows little...we do not require to be lectured by him, especially when so much of his recent conduct is unexplained...

‘It really might be wise for you to hint to Montgomery that he had much better mind his own business and leave politicians to mind theirs.

‘Reading it again, I think his letter most impudent. Thank you for showing it to me all the same.'

The letter, which will be sold at Hansons Auctioneers Library Auction on October 15, comes complete the with the original Montgomery letter that so irked Churchill.

On War Office headed paper, dated April 25 1947, and addressed to John Anderson, complete with a postmarked envelope bearing a wax seal,Field Marshal Montgomery wrote: 'If the National Service Bill gets delayed or hung up, we are completely sunk...it is necessary to get it through the House quickly without a lot of argument and trouble...I do hope that the Conservative Party will lend a hand and will not be too troublesome.

‘I also hope that they will not ask awkward questions about the Chiefs of Staff. Perhaps you could use your influence to help the show.’

The letter is handwritten in dark blue ink and signed Montgomery of Alamein.

Jim Spencer, head of Hansons’ Library and Works on Paper department, said: “You can feel Churchill’s famous bulldog spirit shining through. He clearly didn’t take kindly to any political interference from anyone, even a highly regarded military general.

“This is a wonderful piece of history dating back to just after the end of the Second World War featuring two men who led Britain to victory, but didn’t always see eye to eye.”

Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, nicknamed Monty and The Spartan General, fought in both the First World War and Second World War.

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 included the Second Battle of El Alamein, a turning point in the Western Desert Campaign. 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.

Churchill was Prime Minister from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955.

The two letters, lot 4510, have an estimate of £400-£600. They will be sold on October 15 by Hansons Auctioneers during their Library Auction at Bishton Hall, Wolseley Bridge, Staffordshire. To find out more, email [email protected]. To view the catalogue and bid, visit www.the-saleroom.com.

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