London, Jan.20 (ANI): British and American commanders - Generals Bernard Montgomery and Dwight Eisenhower paused during the reorganisation of the Eighth Army in Italy to make a bet about when the war would end.
According to The Times, General Eisenhower reckoned he could march into Berlin by Christmas 1944. General Montgomery thought him optimistic. The future of Europe was at stake, but for the two generals, a bet of five pounds (about 170 pounds today) was enough to determine who would come out trumps.
The wager is documented in biographies of Montgomery and Eisenhower, but the slip of paper that recorded the bet has been hidden until now.
The sheet of lined paper, 5in by 3in, hung for more than 30 years on the wall of a Californian flat owned by the widow of one of Eisenhower's staff.
Colonel Ernest "Tex" Lee was Eisenhower's executive officer and aide-de-camp during the Second World War and is believed to be the person who noted the terms of the bet.
The note, which is signed by Montgomery at the top and Eisenhower at the bottom, reads: "Agreement entered into, Oct 11, 1943, between Generals Eisenhower and Montgomery Amount £5 - General E bets war with Germany will end before Xmas 1944. Local Time."
Eisenhower, who had flown to Italy from his headquarters in Algiers that day, referred to the incident in his autobiography. "I was personally so confident that we could launch [Operation] Overlord strongly and promptly in the spring of 1944 that I bet Montgomery five pounds that we would end the war by Christmas of that year," he wrote. "I lost the bet."
Bill Lee, Colonel Lee's son, said he remembered seeing the note when he was a child in the 1950s, and his mother had it hanging in a frame in her kitchen.
The family decided to sell it after she died six months ago, he said.
"It's just a wonderful piece. We think it's in my Dad's hand." The note, together with a photograph of Montgomery and Eisenhower, is estimated to fetch up to 20,000 dollars (12,000 pounds) when it is sold by Alexander Auctions in Stamford, Connecticut, today.
Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, son of the Second World War commander, said his father was always keen to strike up a wager. "He usually won," he said.
He believes that his father collected his 5 pound.
"They were in touch after the war - they were both involved in NATO." (ANI)