A Medway war veteran has slated suggestions that Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, Britain’s most successful Second World War general, suffered from autism.
The Army commander, known as Monty, has been branded insensitive, rude and disliked more by his allies than his enemies in reports in national newspapers.
Military historian Antony Beevor is quoted as saying his very strange behaviour could
be linked to the disorder Asperger’s.
But 96-year-old Jeff Haward, who met Monty on several occasions during his remarkable service to his country, said the article was “a load of rubbish”.
“On inspection, he would always stop to have a chat. He would ask if we were OK and were we getting enough food. He came over as perfectly normal and genuine.” - Mr Haward
Mr Haward, of Lower Stoke, said: “If Mr Beevor had come to me, I would have given him a first-hand account of what he was like and it would have been a very different story.”
Mr Haward, who has written a book on his wartime memoirs, first met Monty in 1940 when he was his commanding officer of the 3rd Infantry.
He said: “On inspection, he would always stop to have a chat. He would ask if we were OK and were we getting enough food. He came over as perfectly normal and genuine.”
The last time he encountered the celebrated field marshal was when Monty presented him with his Military Medal in Germany in 1945.
He said: “He said ‘well done’. I can’t remember what I said back. But I do remember that, as he was pinning my medal on, the official photographer was changing his film, so missed the shot.”
Montgomery’s name went down in history as the man who commanded the British 8th Army in 1942 and for the victory in El Alamein against the Nazis in the same year.
Author Mr Beevor cites examples of eccentric behaviour in his book, Ardennes 1944: Hitler’s Last Gamble.
They include an occasion when he invited a US field commander for Christmas lunch and only gave him an apple.
Mr Haward said: “If I could choose a phrase to describe Monty it would be – one of the best.”