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Archibald Montgomery-Massingberd

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Sir Archibald Montgomery-Massingberd
Sir Archibald Montgomery-Massingberd
Birth nameArchibald Armar Montgomery
Born(1871-12-06)6 December 1871
Fivemiletown, County Tyrone
Died13 October 1947(1947-10-13) (aged 75)
Spilsby, Lincolnshire
St. Peter's Church, Gunby
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchBritish Army
Years of service1891–1936
RankField Marshal
Service number1413[1]
UnitRoyal Field Artillery
Commands heldChief of the Imperial General Staff
Southern Command
1st Division
53rd (Welsh) Division
Battles/warsSecond Boer War
First World War
AwardsKnight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George
Mentioned in Despatches
Distinguished Service Medal (United States)

Field Marshal Sir Archibald Armar Montgomery-Massingberd, GCB, GCVO, KCMG, DL (6 December 1871 – 13 October 1947), known as Archibald Armar Montgomery until October 1926, was a senior British Army officer who served as Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS) from 1933 to 1936. He served in the Second Boer War and in the First World War, and later was the driving force behind the formation of a permanent "Mobile Division", the fore-runner of the 1st Armoured Division.

Military career[edit]

Group portrait of officers at the British Staff College at Camberley, England, 1906. Archibald Montgomery, then a captain, is stood in the back row, second on the right.

His father was Hugh de Fellenberg Montgomery, a landowner and Ulster Unionist politician, and his mother was Mary Sophia Juliana May Montgomery (née Maude).[2] The young Montgomery was educated at Charterhouse and at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, and then was commissioned a second lieutenant into the Royal Field Artillery on 4 November 1891.[3] He was posted to a field battery in India in 1892[4] and became a lieutenant on 4 November 1894.[5] He served with the Royal Field Artillery during the Second Boer War[4] and took part in the Battle of Magersfontein and the Battle of Paardeberg.[2] Having been promoted to captain on 8 March 1900,[6][7] he was mentioned in despatches on 4 September 1901.[8] He stayed in South Africa throughout the war, which ended with the Peace of Vereeniging on 31 May 1902, and returned home on the SS Saxon which arrived at Southampton in late October 1902.[9]

Amiens, where Montgomery-Massingberd played an important role as deputy commander of the Fourth Army during the First World War.

After the war, Montgomery served as a battery captain at Bulford Camp before attending Staff College, Camberley from 1905 to 1906.[4] He became a staff captain at the Inspectorate of Horse and Field Artillery in 1907 and a staff officer at Aldershot Command in 1908.[4] Promoted to major on 5 June 1909,[10] he was appointed a general staff officer at the Indian Staff College at Quetta in India on 9 February 1912.[11]

At the outbreak of the First World War in July 1914, Montgomery was appointed a general staff officer to the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France. He was appointed chief of staff at IV Corps in France in October 1914.[4] Promoted to lieutenant colonel on 16 May 1915,[12] he became chief of staff of the Fourth Army of the BEF in February 1916, a role which, according to General Sir Douglas Haig, Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of the BEF, from the planning for the Battle of the Somme in 1916 he carried out with "great ability and success".[13] Promoted to the substantive rank of major-general on 1 January 1917,[4] he was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath for his services in the field on 1 January 1918.[14] He was effectively deputy commander of the Fourth Army (deputising for General Sir Henry Rawlinson) in the final months of the war and played an important role in the success of the Battle of Amiens.[15] He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George for his services in connection with military operations in France and Flanders on 1 January 1919[16] and was also awarded the American Distinguished Service Medal by the President of the United States on 12 July 1919.[17] The medal's citation reads:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Army Distinguished Service Medal to Major General Archibald A. Montgomery, Royal British Army, for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished service in a position of great responsibility to the Government of the United States, during World War I. As Chief of Staff of the 4th British Army, General Montgomery directed the operations of the 2d American Army Corps with distinguished ability, displaying military attainments of the highest order. The officers and soldiers of the 27th, 30th, and 33d U.S. Divisions are justly proud of having served with their English comrades against the common foe and of having shared with them in the successes which were due, in no small degree, to his capable direction. [18]

Sir Douglas Haig with his army commanders and their chiefs of staff, November 1918. Front row, left to right: Sir Herbert Plumer, Sir Douglas Haig, Sir Henry Rawlinson. Middle row, left to right: Sir Julian Byng, Sir William Birdwood, Sir Henry Horne. Back row, left to right: Sir Herbert Lawrence, Sir Charles Kavanagh, Brudenell White, Percy, Louis Vaughan, Archibald Montgomery-Massingberd, Hastings Anderson.

Montgomery was appointed chief of staff of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) following the war and then Deputy Chief of the General Staff in India on 27 March 1920,[19] before becoming General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 53rd (Welsh) Division on 3 March 1922.[20] He became GOC 1st Division at Aldershot on 4 June 1923 and,[21] having been advanced to Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the 1925 New Year Honours,[22] he was promoted to lieutenant general on 16 March 1926.[15] Following a two-year break on half-pay, he became GOC-in-C Southern Command on 17 June 1928.[23] Promoted to full general on 1 October 1930,[24] he was appointed Adjutant-General to the Forces on 1 March 1931[25] and made aide-de-camp general to the King on 3 March 1931.[26]

Gunby Hall, Montgomery-Massingberd's home in Lincolnshire.

Montgomery-Massingberd was appointed Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS) in February 1933.[15] Among his main achievements at this time was the mechanising of the cavalry:[27] indeed he was the driving force behind the formation of a permanent "Mobile Division".[28] Despite this, according to Williamson and Millett, he was a great obstacle to innovation of mechanized forces and suppressed the analysis of the British Army's performance in the First World War initiated by his predecessor, Lord Milne.[29] Advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in the King's Birthday Honours 1934,[30] he was made a field marshal on 7 June 1935.[31] Following the death of King George V he took part in the funeral procession in January 1936[32] and then retired in March 1936.[15]

Montgomery-Massingberd was also Colonel Commandant of the Royal Regiment of Artillery from 19 November 1927,[33] Colonel Commandant of the Royal Tank Corps from 7 December 1934,[34] Colonel Commandant of the 20th Burma Rifles from 5 April 1935,[35] Honorary Colonel of the 46th (Lincolnshire Regiment) Anti-Aircraft Battalion, Royal Engineers, from 17 March 1937[36] and Colonel Commandant of the Royal Malta Artillery from 11 May 1937.[37]

In retirement Montgomery-Massingberd became deputy lieutenant[38] and then Vice-Lieutenant of the County of Lincoln.[39] During the Second World War the Air Ministry attempted to build an airfield at Great Steeping in Lincolnshire that would have extended into Sir Archibald's wife's traditional family estate, necessitating the demolition of the magnificent mansion of Gunby Hall. He personally appealed to King George VI and the Air Ministry relented, redrawing the plans that resulted in the resiting of the new RAF Spilsby two miles further south.[40] During the Second World War he also took charge of organizing and recruiting the Home Guard in Lincolnshire for nine months.[2] His major passion in life was horsemanship.[2] He died at the age of 75 at his home, Gunby Hall, on 13 October 1947[15] and was buried at St. Peter's Church in Gunby.[41]


In 1896 Archibald Montgomery married Diana Langton Massingberd. They had no children.[15] In October 1926, his wife inherited Massingberd family estates, and he changed his name by Royal Licence to add her name to his own.[42] Thus, references to him as "Montgomery-Massingberd" during the First World War are anachronistic.[15] The journalist and genealogist Hugh Massingberd was a great-nephew of both the field marshal and, independently, the field marshal's wife, and in 1963 he and his father also adopted the Massingberd name to inherit the same estates.[43]


  1. ^ "No. 35369". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 December 1941. p. 6937.
  2. ^ a b c d Harris, J.P. (2004). "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
  3. ^ "No. 26225". The London Gazette. 20 November 1891. p. 6083.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Heathcote 1999, p. 220.
  5. ^ "No. 26572". The London Gazette. 20 November 1894. p. 6508.
  6. ^ "No. 27175". The London Gazette. 20 March 1900. p. 1878.
  7. ^ "No. 27217". The London Gazette. 3 August 1900. p. 4785.
  8. ^ "No. 27353". The London Gazette. 10 September 1901. p. 5927.
  9. ^ "The Army in South Africa – Troops returning Home". The Times. No. 36892. London. 7 October 1902. p. 8.
  10. ^ "No. 28257". The London Gazette. 4 June 1909. p. 4281.
  11. ^ "No. 28601". The London Gazette. 23 April 1912. p. 2904.
  12. ^ "No. 29238". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 July 1915. p. 7176.
  13. ^ "No. 31283". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 April 1919. p. 4710.
  14. ^ "No. 30563". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 March 1918. p. 2971.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g Heathcote 1999, p. 221.
  16. ^ "No. 31092". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1918. p. 3.
  17. ^ "No. 31451". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 July 1919. p. 8937.
  18. ^ "Valor awards for Archibald A. Montgomery". Military Times.
  19. ^ "No. 32074". The London Gazette. 5 October 1920. p. 9699.
  20. ^ "No. 32641". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 March 1922. p. 2217.
  21. ^ "No. 32834". The London Gazette. 15 June 1923. p. 4208.
  22. ^ "No. 33007". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 1924. p. 3.
  23. ^ "No. 33396". The London Gazette (Supplement). 22 June 1928. p. 4265.
  24. ^ "No. 33648". The London Gazette. 30 September 1930. p. 5950.
  25. ^ "No. 33696". The London Gazette. 6 March 1931. p. 1534.
  26. ^ "No. 33695". The London Gazette. 3 March 1931. p. 1450.
  27. ^ Montgomery-Massingberd, Hugh, p. 18
  28. ^ "The British Army Between the Wars". Global Security. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
  29. ^ Murray, Williamson & Millett, Allen R.
  30. ^ "No. 34056". The London Gazette. 1 June 1934. p. 3557.
  31. ^ "No. 34180". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 July 1935. p. 4602.
  32. ^ "No. 34279". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 April 1936. p. 2768.
  33. ^ "No. 33337". The London Gazette. 13 December 1927. p. 7981.
  34. ^ "No. 34112". The London Gazette. 7 December 1934. p. 7926.
  35. ^ "No. 34148". The London Gazette. 5 April 1935. p. 2325.
  36. ^ "No. 34380". The London Gazette. 16 March 1937. p. 1749.
  37. ^ "No. 34396". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 May 1937. p. 3074.
  38. ^ "No. 34292". The London Gazette. 9 June 1936. p. 3666.
  39. ^ "No. 34870". The London Gazette. 11 June 1940. p. 3514.
  40. ^ "RAF Spilsby". Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  41. ^ "Commonwealth War Graves Commission". Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  42. ^ "No. 33211". The London Gazette. 15 October 1926. p. 6611.
  43. ^ "Obituary: Hugh Massingberd". The Daily Telegraph. 12 December 2007. Archived from the original on 26 February 2008. Retrieved 14 January 2012.


  • Harris, J.P. (1995). Men, Ideas and Tanks: British Military Thought and Armoured Vehicles 1903–1939. Manchester University Press.
  • Heathcote, Tony (1999). The British Field Marshals 1736–1997. Barnsley (UK): Pen & Sword. ISBN 0-85052-696-5.
  • Montgomery-Massingberd, Archibald (1919). The Story of the Fourth Army in the Hundred Days. Hodder & Stoughton. ASIN B000TXVIJ0.
  • Montgomery-Massingberd, Hugh (1997). Archie – A Biographical sketch of Field Marshal Sir Archibald Montgomery-Massingberd. National Trust.
  • Murray, Williamson; Millett, Allen R., eds. (2006) [1996]. Military Innovation in the Interwar Period (17th ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-63760-2.

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by GOC 53rd (Welsh) Division
Succeeded by
Preceded by GOC 1st Division
Succeeded by
Preceded by GOC-in-C Southern Command
Preceded by Adjutant-General to the Forces
Preceded by Chief of the Imperial General Staff
Succeeded by