Montgomery, commonly referred to as "Monty," initially earned distinction during World War II due to his highly effective leadership of the British Eighth Army in North Africa. There, Montgomery was the first Allied general to inflict a decisive defeat upon the Axis forces when he drove them from their positions at El Alamein in northern Egypt.
On the heels of his North Africa success, Montgomery took part in the Allied invasion of Sicily, and worked closely with U.S. General Dwight Eisenhower planning and implementing the D-Day invasion of France. In September 1944, Montgomery was made a field marshal -- the highest rank in the British Army.
The war was not all victories for Montgomery, however. He suffered his worst defeat in battle during his September 1944 attempt to cross the Rhine River at the Dutch city of Arnhem. Six thousand airborne Allied troops were lost in the failed effort.
Montgomery survived this setback, and in 1944, at the Battle of the Bulge, was given temporary command of all British and American forces on the north side of the bulging line. German troops in the Netherlands and northwest Germany surrendered to Montgomery on May 4, 1945.
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On June 6, 1944, Allied troops invaded Normandy, fighting to free Europe from Nazi occupation and end World War II.