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Hidden for 60 years, they formed the personal archive of William English, the non-commissioned officer who Montgomery personally appointed as his batman and relief driver in 1942.

English travelled everywhere with his Box Brownie camera, and there are approximately 125 photographs in the collection that record not just important historical moments, but also intimate and personal ones, from the desert battles in North Africa, through to the Italian campaign, on to D-Day, and then the eventual liberation of Europe.

Kept in two albums, the archive was discovered by his daughter following Mr English’s death at the age of 84 seven years ago.

The vendors want the archive to stay together and so the collection will be offered as a single lot at the sale on July 14. Auctioneer Colin Waterman said: “This really is a most valuable collection. There are photographs of Montgomery, both formally and informally, but there are pictures of Churchill, Eisenhower, and the King as well. This collection of one man’s war is truly unique.”

The photographs include one of Churchill’s visit to the 8th Army in North Africa in August 1942, when he appointed Montgomery to his command, and there is even one of his cigar wrappers from that visit pasted into the album. There is also a picture of Montgomery being honoured in the field by King George VI after the liberation of Holland. Another shows the German Generals signing their surrender on May 4, 1945 in the tent in Luneberg. More personally, there is a charming snap of Montgomery sitting on the grass playing with his puppies, which he named Hitler and Rommel.

Alex Capon