Military Wiki
Sir Archibald Montgomery-Massingberd
Field Marshal Sir Archibald Montgomery-Massingberd
Nickname Archie
Born (1871-12-06)6 December 1871
Died 13 October 1947(1947-10-13) (aged 75)
Place of birth Fivemiletown, County Tyrone
Place of death Spilsby, Lincolnshire
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service 1891 - 1936
Rank Field Marshal
Commands held 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division
1st Infantry Division
Southern Command
Chief of the Imperial General Staff
Battles/wars Second Boer War
World War I
Awards Knight 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
Mention in Despatches

Field Marshal Sir Archibald Armar Montgomery-Massingberd GCB, GCVO, KCMG, DL (6 December 1871 – 13 October 1947) was Chief of the Imperial General Staff. He served in the Second Boer War and in World War I and later was the driving force behind the formation of a permanent "Mobile Division", the fore-runner of the Armoured Division.

Military career

Born the son of Hugh de Fellenberg Montgomery, a landowner and Ulster Unionist politician, and Mary Sophia Juliana May Montgomery (née Maude)[1] and educated at Charterhouse School and at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, Archibald Armar Montgomery was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Royal Field artillery on 4 November 1891.[2] He was posted to a field battery in India in 1892[3] and became a lieutenant on 4 November 1894.[4] He served with the Royal Field Artillery during the Second Boer War[3] and took part in the Battle of Magersfontein and the Battle of Paardeberg.[1] Having been promoted to captain on 8 March 1900,[5] he was mentioned in despatches on 4 September 1901.[6]

After the War Montgomery served as a battery captain at Bulford Camp before attending Staff College, Camberley from 1905 to 1906.[3] He became a staff captain at the Inspectorate of Horse and Field Artillery in 1907 and a staff officer at Aldershot Command in 1908.[3] Promoted to major on 5 June 1909,[7] he was appointed a general staff officer at the Indian Army Staff College at Quetta in India on 9 February 1912.[8]

At the outbreak of World War I in July 1914 Montgomery was appointed a general staff officer to the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France.[3] He was appointed Chief of Staff at IV Corps in France in October 1914.[3] Promoted to lieutenant-colonel on 16 May 1915,[9] he became Chief of Staff of Fourth Army of the BEF in February 1916,[3] a role which, according to Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, from the planning for the Battle of the Somme in Summer 1916 he carried out with "great ability and success".[10] Promoted to the substantive rank of major-general on 1 January 1917,[3] he was appointed CB for his services in the field on 1 January 1918.[11] 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.[12] He was appointed KCMG for his services in connection with military operations in France and Flanders on 1 January 1919[13] and was also awarded the American Distinguished Service Medal by the President of the United States on 12 July 1919.[14]

Montgomery was appointed Chief of Staff of the British Army of the Rhine following the War and then Deputy Chief of the General Staff in India on 27 March 1920[15] before becoming General Officer Commanding 53rd (Welsh) Division on 3 March 1922.[16] He became General Officer Commanding 1st Infantry Division at Aldershot on 4 June 1923[17] and, having been advanced to KCB in the New Year Honours 1925,[18] he was promoted to lieutenant-general on 16 March 1926.[12] Following a two year break on half-pay, he became General Officer Commanding Southern Command on 17 June 1928.[19] Promoted to full general on 1 October 1930,[20] he was appointed Adjutant-General to the Forces on 1 March 1931[21] and made ADC to the King on 3 March 1931.[22]

He was appointed Chief of the Imperial General Staff in February 1933.[12] Among his main achievements at this time was the mechanising of the Cavalry:[23] indeed he was the driving force behind the formation of a permanent "Mobile Division".[24] 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 World War I initiated by his predecessor, Lord Milne.[25] Advanced to GCB in the King's Birthday Honours 1934,[26] he was made a field marshal on 7 June 1935.[27] Following the death of King George V he took part in the funeral procession in January 1936[28] and then retired in March 1936.[12]

He was also from Colonel Commandant of the Royal Regiment of Artillery from 19 November 1927,[29] Colonel Commandant of the Royal Tank Corps from 7 December 1934,[30] Colonel Commandant of the 20th Burma Rifles from 5 April 1935,[31] Honorary Colonel of the 46th (Lincolnshire Reserve) Anti-Aircraft Battalion from 17 March 1937[32] and Colonel Commandant of the Royal Malta Artillery from 11 May 1937.[33]

In retirement he became Deputy Lieutenant[34] and then Vice-Lieutenant of the County of Lincoln.[35] During World War II 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.[36] During World War II he also took charge of organizing and recruiting the Home Guard in Lincolnshire for nine months.[1] His major passion in life was horsemanship.[1] He died at his home, Gunby Hall, on 13 October 1947.[12]


He married Diana Langton Massingberd in 1896, and, in October 1926, changed his name by Royal Licence in order to take her surname hyphenated to his own,[37] when she inherited family estates (meaning references to "Montgomery-Massingberd" during World War I are anachronistic); they had no children.[12] The journalist and genealogist Hugh Massingberd was great-nephew both to the Field Marshal and, independently, to the Field Marshal's wife.[38]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Harris, J.P. (2004). "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  2. "No. 26225". 20 November 1891. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Heathcote, Anthony pg 220
  4. "No. 26572". 20 November 1894. 
  5. "No. 27217". 3 August 1900. 
  6. "No. 27353". 10 September 1901. 
  7. "No. 28257". 4 June 1909. 
  8. "No. 28601". 23 April 1912. 
  9. "No. 29238". 20 July 1915. 
  10. "No. 31283". 8 April 1919. 
  11. "No. 30563". 5 March 1918. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 Heathcote, Anthony pg 221
  13. "No. 31092". 31 December 1918. 
  14. "No. 31451". 11 July 1919. 
  15. "No. 32074". 5 October 1920. 
  16. "No. 32641". 16 March 1922. 
  17. "No. 32834". 15 June 1923. 
  18. "No. 33007". 30 December 1924. 
  19. "No. 33396". 22 June 1928. 
  20. "No. 33648". 30 September 1930. 
  21. "No. 33696". 6 March 1931. 
  22. "No. 33695". 3 March 1931. 
  23. Montgomery-Massingberd, Hugh, pg 18
  24. "The British Army Between the Wars". Global Security. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  25. Murray, Williamson & Millett, Allen R.
  26. "No. 34056". 1 June 1934. 
  27. "No. 34180". 16 July 1935. 
  28. "No. 34279". 29 April 1936. 
  29. "No. 33337". 13 December 1927. 
  30. "No. 34112". 7 December 1934. 
  31. "No. 34148". 5 April 1935. 
  32. "No. 34380". 16 March 1937. 
  33. "No. 34396". 11 May 1937. 
  34. "No. 34292". 9 June 1936. 
  35. "No. 34870". 11 June 1940. 
  36. "RAF Spilsby". Retrieved 13 January 2011. 
  37. "No. 33211". 15 October 1926. 
  38. "Obituary: Hugh Massingberd". The Daily Telegraph. 12 December 2007. Retrieved 14 January 2012. 

Further reading

  • 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. (1996). Military Innovation in the Interwar Period. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-63760-2. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Cyril Deverell
General Officer Commanding the 53rd (Welsh) Division
Succeeded by
Thomas Marden
Preceded by
Guy Bainbridge
General Officer Commanding the 1st Infantry Division
Succeeded by
Cecil Romer
Preceded by
Sir Alexander Godley
GOC-in-C Southern Command
Succeeded by
Sir Cecil Romer
Preceded by
Sir Walter Braithwaite
Adjutant-General to the Forces
Succeeded by
Sir Cecil Romer
Preceded by
Sir George Milne
Chief of the Imperial General Staff
Succeeded by
Sir Cyril Deverell

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