An authority no less august than The Times Literary Supplement reviewed Montgomery's personal messages from a creative standpoint. I include this to demonstrate that these works were becoming well-regarded in non-military circles. I also took the liberty of repurposing the article title for this website! A copy of the review and a pdf of the actual review are below:
THE TONGUE OF MARS “Times Literary Supplement,” Saturday, August 14, 1943.
During recent months there has appeared a series of messages from General Montgomery to the Eighth Army. They will presumably be published in due course as part of the history of that conquering Army, and, read as a whole, they will form an index to their author’s character : to read them one by one on their appearance has been a delight to all who enjoy that fit and individual use of words that gives the matrix of literary style. Their general appeal is indicated by the phrase “whatever may be your rank or employment,” which, occurs more than once in the them, and which seems to recognize that the Army of to-day is not only built up from all sorts and conditions of men but affords specialized employment to many trades and professions. To address a composite body of that kind – “we are all one entity” said the General – in such a way that every man in it will at once understand his commander’s mind and will share in his enthusiasm is a fine achievement, and the intimacy of the contact thus established is repeatedly shown in the cheery valediction “Good Luck and good hunting!” Such an ending to a message is what one might expect from the man who, before the Battle of Egypt began in October, said that “together, you and I will hit Rommel and his Army ‘for six’ right out of Africa.”
In that metaphor there was a direct appeal to every man in the Army, and each of them must have responded, according to his age, post, and experience, by thinking for a moment of some distant scene when his favourite slogger hit over the pavilion.
A commander of an army in the field to-day has opportunities of telling his troops what he is thinking which were denied to his predecessors, and he may be judged by the use he has made of them scarcely less than by his victories. “Marked intellectual capacity is the chief characteristic of the most famous soldiers,” wrote Colonel Henderson in his “Life of Stonewall Jackson,” and the general public must look for that quality in what a solider says or writes. Jackson’s orders and written instructions were short and simple, and his biographer, when comparing him with Wellington, wrote of both that “their imagination was always controlled by common sense.” For instance, when Wellington saw the moment was ripe for attacking Marmont he rode up to Parkenham and said: “Ned, move on with the Third Division; take the heights and drive everything before you.” A similar firm intention of victory, expressed in the simplest and most forcible phrasing, is to be seen in the messages to the Eighth Army. It was shown to best advantage when the enemy, “caught like a rate in a trap,” was about to attack from the Mareth Line, and General Montgomery told his Army that “We will smash the enemy attack…We will in fact give him a very bloody nose.” Later on after expressing his gratitude and admiration for the “wonderful fighting qualities” of the Army, he said that their triumphant cry had become “Forward to Tunis and drive the enemy into the sea!” The prophecy was not fulfilled. The campaign ended, thanks to the fine cooperation of the other Services, which the General most warmly recognized, in a “Major Disaster for the enemy, “ and it is seldom that an expectation is so pleasantly dispelled.
In none of these messages is there any attempt to use literary artifices. Their wording is natural, and they form a model of clear, terse expression. It is true that General Montgomery quoted the Prime Minister’s remark that it will be a great honour in years to come to be able to say “I marched and fought with the Eighth Army,” and in that there is an echo from Henry V; but there was as little conscious art in that as there was thought of offering to let those with no stomach for the fight depart for home. Yet if there is no artifice there is an occasional flash of eloquence. The message of complete confidence to the invasion troops in Sicily is eloquent in the truest sense : it is opposite and effective. “Therefore, with faith in God and with enthusiasm for our cause and for the day of battle, let us enter into this contest with stout hearts and with determination to conquer.” If one seeks in the sayings of great captains for an analogy to that exhortation it may be found in the most familiar of signals which, in its original form, was “Nelson confides that every man will do his duty.” In that form, wrote Captain Mahan, “It was the call of the leader to the followers the personal appeal of one who trusts to those in whom he trusts, a feeling particularly characteristic of the speaker whose strong hold over others lay above all in the transparent and unswerving faith he showed in their loyal support.”