An image of the famous field marshall during his posting to Cork is up for auction, says Des O’Sullivan.
One month after the burning of Cork by the Black and Tans in December 1920, the future Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery of El Alamein was appointed brigade major of the British Army’s 17th Infantry Brigade stationed in the city.
Monty is the officer at the centre of this very rare c1921 photograph taken in front of a Cork Physiology college building with about 40 uniformed British soldiers.
It comes up as lot 162 at Adam’s History Sale in Dublin next Wednesday estimated at €500-600.
The photo has a Guy’s of Cork label at the back.
Their task was to carry out counter-insurgency operations during the final stages of the Irish War of Independence.
It is unlikely that the regard in which he is held as a hero of the Second World War — the man who defeated Rommel at a very heavy cost was feted as a hero — was widely shared in Cork a little over two decades previously.
He later wrote to a fellow officer: “Personally, my whole attention was given to defeating the rebels, but it never bothered me a bit how many houses were burnt. I think I regarded all civilians as ‘Shinners’ and I never had any dealings with any of them.
“My own view is that to win a war of this sort, you must be ruthless.
“Oliver Cromwell, or the Germans, would have settled it in a very short time.
“Nowadays public opinion precludes such methods, the nation would never allow it, and the politicians would lose their jobs if they sanctioned it.”
He was of the opinion that if the British had gone on, the rebellion could probably have been quashed, but also thought it would have broken out again the moment the troops were removed.
[timgcap=Montgomery on the War of Independence: “My own view is that to win a war of this sort, you must be ruthless. Oliver Cromwell, or the Germans, would have settled it in a very short time. Nowadays public opinion precludes such methods, the nation would never allow it ...”]zzzWarOfIndependenceOfficerMontgomery1921_large.jpg[/timg]
More than 250 lots from medieval to modern times, including a copy of the 1916 Proclamation, will come under the hammer. There are Georgian firearms by WJ Rigby with Cork marks. A rare 1985 Irish 20 pence test coin, is estimated at €3,000-4,000.
Less than 50 of these are in circulation. Viewing for the auction gets underway at Adam’s tomorrow.
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