Businessman and son of Field Marshal Montgomery

Born: August 18, 1928;

Died: January 8, 2020.

DAVID Bernard Montgomery, second Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, CMG, CBE, who has died aged 91, was the son of the celebrated Second World War British general, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, whose victory in North Africa helped to turn the war for the Allies. He defended his father – always known as Monty – steadfastly.

He was a loyal upholder of his father’s memory and of the men who fought alongside him in Africa. He was a great supporter of the National WWII Museum, in New Orleans, where he often delivered lectures about his father. He inherited the viscountcy on his father’s death in 1976 and was a proud patron of the 8th Army and other veterans’ associations. He also supported the D-Day and Normandy Trust.

One of his closest friendships was with Manfred Rommel, the son of Monty’s chief adversary in North Africa, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, ‘The Desert Fox’. The two sons read the lessons at Westminster Abbey in 1992 at a service to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Allied victory at El Alamein. Montgomery later observed that “we were the same age, to within three months. We had a great deal in common … Our fathers are ever-present in our lives.”

They were both sons of eminent men and both had grown up in challening circumstances. Montgomery reflected the pressure of living in his father’s shadow in his 1994 book, The Lonely Leader: Monty 1944-45 (co-written with Alistair Horne). He wrote that his father was “a loving but distant father, who focused on army life and was often overseas.” Significantly, he concluded, “As a general, both in the desert and in northwest Europe, my father was the right man at the right time in the right place.”

Montgomery dismissed wholeheartedly the suggestions in Nigel Hamilton’s official biography that in his later years Monty had indulged in “quasi love affairs” with young soldiers. Montgomery considered such allegations as “absurd, appalling and complete psychobabble”.

Montgomery also had a distinguished career in business, concentrating on UK trade relations with Latin America. He founded and ran Terimar Services, which introduced British companies to prospective associates.

David Bernard Montgomery was the only child of Bernard Montgomery and Betty Carver. Her first husband had been killed at Gallipoli during the First World War and David thus had two half-brothers from that marriage. His father, throughout his youth, was serving in the Middle East; and he was devastated when in 1937 his mother died of septicaemia.

During the war he attended Winchester College and had occasional visits from his father, who would arrive in his staff car. His father was a somewhat remote figure, utterly committed to the war and his army commitments. The son did his national service in the Royal Tank Regiment and was presented with the belt of honour by his father when he passed out top. He then read engineering at Trinity College, Cambridge.

On coming down from Cambridge he worked first for Shell overseas; while in Chile he recognised the commercial potential of South America. He spoke fluent Spanish and Portuguese, which proved vital to further business relationships and cement deals.

Montgomery was strongly against British forces being sent to retake the Falklands in 1982. His advice to Margaret Thatcher was that General Galtieri was “looking for a smokescreen to cover up all the disasters of military dictatorship and rampant inflation.” He made a speech in the Lords which infuriated Thatcher. Worse, Lord Carrington called him “South American Joe”.

After the conflict Montgomery worked tirelessly to improve Anglo-Argentinian relations and was an enthusiastic leader of British trade missions to the country. He was Chairman of the Anglo-Argentine Society and Canning House (the UK’s forum for South American affairs).

When, in 1999, the House of Lords reduced the number of hereditary peers Montgomery left the institution. But in 2005 he won election as one of 90 hereditary peers and sat as a crossbencher. It was a reflection of his high reputation and his valuable experience in business.

In 1953 he married Mary Connell, daughter of Sir Charles Connell, whose family had founded the Connell shipbuilding business in Scotstoun in 1861. The marriage was dissolved in 1967. In 1970 he married Tessa Browning, daughter of Dame Daphne du Maurier andhis father’s old colleague, General Sir Frederick “Boy” Browning.

Montgomery was appointed CBE in 1975 and CMG in 2000. He enjoyed ballet, theatre, good food and wine. He is survived by his second wife and by two children from his first marriage.