Could the generals of the British army choose what kind of uniform to wear? I am mainly asking because Bernard Montgomery is very often photographed in a battle dress even in very official events like getting an award. In other photographs in a sweater when meeting the prime minister and the chief of staff, who is in a full uniform with a jacket. Was it his personal choice?

Winston Churchill flanked by the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke and General Sir Bernard Montgomery

Photo Wikimedia

Montgomery receives Order of Victory

Photo Wikimedia

  • 9
    Who was going to bring him up on uniform charges? IIRC the official uniform for a British general officer is "Dress suitable to the activity in question".
    – MCW
    Commented May 21, 2020 at 17:54
  • 1
    Who would after El-Alamein be able to bring him up on uniform charges ? Churchill could (and the King) but why ? It would have been much more effective and less public keeping him at home. Commented May 22, 2020 at 11:21

1 Answer 1


A full copy of the current British Army dress regulations can be found here. It's a 1,279 page PDF. Obviously, it is not obeyed scrupulously all the time, and there is a history of senior commanders dressing somewhat informally. A prime example is Lieutenant-General Thomas Picton, who commanded his division at Waterloo in civilian clothes, because his luggage had not arrived. It would not have been sensible to spend time borrowing uniform: the forthcoming battle was what mattered.

For the first photo, note that Churchill and Alan Brooke are visiting Montgomery at his own HQ. That means he is the officer ultimately responsible for dress standards, and in the field, these things can be relaxed if it does not impair efficiency. There is a legend that George S Patton insisted on saluting in combat zones; a British officer who did that would be quietly corrected by his commander, and subjected to "saluting traps" by his men.

In the second photo, Montgomery is engaging in a little image-polishing by wearing combat uniform, implying that he's achieved more than all these brilliantly-polished staff officers. However, when you look at the very short list of men who were awarded the Order of Victory, and see that he was awarded it before Eisenhower, Monty has an arguable point. He's also the senior British officer present, so there isn't anyone with authority to complain.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.