The first duty of a leader is optimism

The victory of British forces at El Alamein in North Africa in 1942 was a hugely significant moment of the Second World War. And the chief architect of that victory was General Bernard Montgomery.

"Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein, we never had a defeat,” Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s famous quote about the significance of the battle may have been an exaggeration, but only a slight one. The victory had been a turning point.

Behind the scenes, Monty could be notoriously eccentric, difficult and stubborn. Churchill also said of him: “In defeat, unbeatable; in victory, unbearable.”

It’s led modern historians to now consider whether the “strange” ways in which Monty interacted with other people may have in fact been due to a high-functioning form of Asperger’s.

In the public eye, with his commanding appearance and distinctive beret, he was the most famous and recognisable British general of the war.

By the end of it, he had achieved the highest possible rank achievable in the British Army: that of Field Marshal. A popular figure and leader of men, he was undeniably a hero to many.