|27 Feb 2020
Over the years there have been a great many eminent visitors to the college, but arguably the most notable military guest was Field-Marshal Viscount Montgomery of Alamein (1887- 1976), or 'Monty' as he was more familiarly known. He came to Bradfield as guest of honour for Commemoration in July 1948 and a contingent of Bradfield JTC formed the Guard of Honour and performed a March Past. With a distinguished military career spanning both world wars he was at the time of his visit, Chief of the Imperial General Staff and Head of the British Army. What an honour it must have been for the boys to welcome such a distinguished and senior army officer to Bradfield.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Guy Garrod's article in the Chronicle from August 1948 describes the occasion, with the arrival of the Field-Marshal on ‘Major’ precise to time as the Chapel bell struck 11 and crowds of onlookers and parents lining the bank. The Guard of Honour gave the General Salute and the inspection of the troops was accompanied by music from the band. ‘Then came the March Past which made an excellent impression’ on the Field-Marshal.
Later in a packed Greeker, 'Monty' addressed the whole school and the visitors, making a formidable impact ‘as it was revealed to us… the way in which he electrified and inspired his armies…’
The Chronicle article goes on, ‘He asked what did we fight for in the last war? Some might think we fought in order to have peace, but this seemed to him to get the values all wrong. In his view we fought for freedom and justice, and peace was incidental to these ideals. Peace in itself has no merit; its merit is in the fact that it provides the best conditions for working towards our ideals. Do not let us therefore glorify peace as an end in itself, but as a means towards higher things.’
The Field-Marshal endeared himself further to the boys and added a lighter note to proceedings when he observed that the boys looked overworked and asked the Headmaster to give them a day’s holiday! John Hills was the Headmaster at the time and is pictured with 'Monty' in the photo gallery below. Also pictured is the Headmaster’s notice that consequently went up in Bloods, honouring the Field-Marshal’s request for a holiday and asking the boys to let their parents know of the change 'as soon as possible'.
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