Letters Show Monty as Repressed Gay
Second World War Hero Had Platonic Love for Soldiers And Boys, Claims
Friend and Biographer
February 26, 2001
119 Farringdon Rd., London EC1 3ER England
By Sarah Hall, The Guardian
"This sort of thing may be tolerated by the French, but were
British thank God."
So decreed Field Marshal Montgomery as he urged the House of Lords not to
legalise gay sex and warned that the 1967 homosexuality bill would be a
"charter for buggery".
More than 30 years on, the gay age of consent has been equalised to 16,
homosexuals are allowed to serve in the military and Britains most
famous wartime general has been outed as a repressed homosexual who had
"quasi love affairs" with boys and men, according to a new book.
The Full Monty, by his official biographer, Nigel Hamilton, claims that
Montgomery felt passionately about fellow soldiers and boys, some not yet in
Professor Hamilton, whose official life of Montgomery was in 1981 awarded
the Whitbread prize for biography, has drawn on hundreds of letters to and
from Montgomery. He admits there was no proof of any physical relationship
with any of the young men who wrote, but argues that any act would have been
illegal and could have spelt ruin for the wartime hero.
"Dont forget homosexuality was outlawed from 1885 to 1967. Those
who did act on their instincts could, like Oscar Wilde, be imprisoned and
ruined," he said yesterday from Boston, where he works at the University
"He acted very negatively to the change in the law calling it a
charter for buggery. He was extremely worried by it, and psychologically
that suggests the law had been an essential crutch in his struggle with his
own homosexual feelings."
Rumours about the sexuality of the man who won the battle of El Alamein in
1942, turning the tide of the war in north Africa, have previously circulated.
As early as 1976 - five years after his death one earlier biographer,
Lord Chalfont, noted his "predilection for the company of young
Last night, Montgomerys only son, Viscount David Montgomery, dismissed
the new claim as being "absurd, appalling, and complete
Another biographer, Alistair Horne, author of The Lonely Leader, commented:
"This sounds to me like Hamilton is rehashing his old work for a tabloid
"I served under Montgomery in the Middle East and I have absolutely no
evidence whatsoever of repressed, or any other kind, of homosexuality."
Prof Hamilton, who was befriended by the field marshal at age 11 and knew
him well for the last 20 years of his life, has no doubt of the nature of
"These were quasi love affairs. He became really passionately involved
with these young men and then, more and more, boys, who he would call my
sons. They were nothing of the kind, of course, but in his own personality
he would frame them in this way.
"I myself have more than 100 very loving letters from him. My
relationship with him wasnt sexual, in the sense that it wasnt acted
upon, but I had been through enough years at British boarding schools to know
what kind of enormous affection and feeling he had for me.
"And I wasnt alone, this was a consistent pattern in Montys
life." One boy was Lucien Treub, Montgomerys "little Swiss
friend", who met him at 12, and told Hamilton how the general would bathe
him personally and rub him down so he would not catch cold. "Ive
interviewed him several times and he was quite clear he didnt feel there
was any molesting going on, but its a tricky area," Prof Hamilton
Born in 1887, Montgomery was married for 10 years from 1927, but the
academic described this an "an aberration" in what had otherwise
been a life devoted entirely to being with men.
He added that he had pondered on whether to write about Montys sexuality
when his acclaimed three-part biography was published in the 1980s, but felt
that his main aim was to restore the field marshals military reputation
"at a time it was being systematically trashed: I didnt want to
detract from that".
Sexuality under scrutiny Historical figures whose sexuality has been the
subject of debate:
The soldier and writer claimed, in The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, that he was
whipped and raped by a Turkish officer in the first world war. In 1992 his
biographer Lawrence James described it as a "homoerotic fantasy",
but said Lawrence was homosexual in his later years.
In 1996 an incestuous relationship was suggested by Terry Castle of Stanford
University: the novelists letters showed "the passionate nature of the
sibling bond". She never married, and shared a bed with her sister
but that was not unusual at the time. Austen scholars dismissed the claim.
Daphne du Maurier
Married and a mother of three, the novelist had an affair with the actress
Gertrude Lawrence, an authorised biography said in 1993. She had her first
fling with a teacher nicknamed "Ferdy", and was torn between
"Cairo", or heterosexuality, and "Venice", or lesbianism.
Ever since Oscar Wilde claimed the Elizabethan playwright was in love with
a boy actor, Willie Hewes, critics have claimed he was gay relying on his
sonnets for justification.
Leonardo da Vinci
The ultimate renaissance man has long been held to be gay, and in 1476 he
was tried and acquitted of sodomy. In 1998, an academic suggested bisexuality
in Leonardos "intense relationship" with a courtesan in his 60s.