'Uncle' Bill Slim

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by geoff501, Sep 16, 2008.

  1. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    Great little program on R4 this afternoon, worth checking on Listen again:

    16:30

    Great Lives

    16 September 2008

    Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

    General Sir Mike Jackson, former Head of the British Army, nominates Field Marshal Bill Slim, leader of the Burma Campaign. Military historian Julian Thompson lends weight to the argument that Slim, less well known today than other Second World War Generals, was perhaps the greatest commander of the 20th century.
     
  2. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Geoff -
    I would go along with that notion of Bill Slim being the greatest Commander in ww2 when you think that he came from being a successful Brigadier in Ethiopia to Field Marshal - with a lowly background - little to work with - and in spite of Mountbatten and Leese ganging up on him - defeated a very strong Japanese Army to show how it could be done in the most adverse conditions...we don't credit him enough with what he did...for all of us !
    Cheers
     
  3. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    Geoff -
    in spite of Mountbatten and Leese ganging up on him


    Cut his teeth in the filth of WW1, like Monty, which I think helped a lot.
    Interesting comment from Mountbatten on the program - spoken after he'd died.

    Glad I missed the Lord Longford program, would make my blood boil......
     
  4. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Glad I missed the Lord Longford program, would make my blood boil......
    He tended to have that effect on me too... :unsure:
     
  5. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Was listening to it driving around town in my van, chap in cab with me made a stupid comment regards the death of Moutbatten so I smacked him in the arm as we drove up Vic Hill, tosser!

    Back to the radio prog, loved it.

    Really must read Slim's book.
     
  6. lancesergeant

    lancesergeant Senior Member

    He led the forgotten army. If he had been in North Africa or the Home Front it would have been a different story. The Far East with the loss of Singapore was not high up on the list of priorities. F/Marshal Slim has not got the recognition he deserves in some small way the program helps to redress the balance.

    His troops looked on him as a soldier's soldier who was concerned with their welfare. He started his service with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment now 2RRF - the same as Monty. They both had a thorough grounding of the attrition of the first war and Slim was sympathetic to what his troops were going through.

    It would be interesting to think who of the known generals, one could put on a parallel with Slim - in the Far East theatre of operations. That if at all.
     
  7. Herakles

    Herakles Senior Member

    I would completely agree that Slim was No.1.

    He was I think the first to fully appreciate the importance of the health of his troops. When he took over the 14th Army, more men were dying of disease than Japanese bullets. That was immediately reversed.

    He cut his teeth at Gallipoli, leading his beloved Gurkhas. And he excelled in Syria with them.

    And he made an excellent Gov. Gen. of Australia.

    He was the man who, when asked by a photographer to smile for the camera, said: "I am."
     
  8. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    Quote:
    There is a difference between leadership and management. The leader and the men who follow him represent one of the oldest, most natural and most effective of all human relationships. The manager and those he manages are a later product with neither so romantic nor so inspiring a history. Managers are necessary, leaders are essential.
    Field Marshal, Sir William Slim
    Australian Army Journal, November 1957
    Field-Marshal, The Viscount Slim, KG, GCB, GCMG, GCVO, GRE, DSO, MC.
    Slim was the epitome, or if you like the quintessential professional soldier. His charisma and energy for the job at hand was admired by those who fought with and for him.

    Commissioned as an officer (2nd Lieutenant) in the Royal Warwichshire Regiment in 1914, he was badly wounded at Gallipoli and fought in France & Mesopotamia.

    He commanded all levels from platoon to army group in combat with the exception of battalion. His career was one of selfless service and devotion to duty.

    In the early days of WW2 he was always leading the action commanding the 10th Indian Infantry Brigade against the Italians in Eritrea and the Sudan (1940-1941), then the 10th Indian Division against Iraqis and Vichy French in Syria (1941).

    He was appointed commander of Burma Corps, and then XV Corps. Slim assumed command of the Fourteenth Army in February 1944 with an offensive toward Arakan. By June 1944, Slim's "Forgotten Army" had decisively won the Imphal / Kohima battle restoring allied prestige, and proceeded to recaptured Burma. At war’s end, Slim was commanding Allied Land Forces, South East Asia.

    His humble background, and lead from the front attitude inspired his troops and gained him unreserved respect. His Military career was fulfilled when his appointment in 1948 as Chief of the Imperial General Staff, the first Indian Army officer ever to serve as the professional head of the British Army.

    He was also Governor General of Australia whilst still being a serving Field Marshal and a Knight.
     
  9. Union464

    Union464 Member

    Geoff -
    I would go along with that notion of Bill Slim being the greatest Commander in ww2 when you think that he came from being a successful Brigadier in Ethiopia to Field Marshal - with a lowly background - little to work with - and in spite of Mountbatten and Leese ganging up on him - defeated a very strong Japanese Army to show how it could be done in the most adverse conditions...we don't credit him enough with what he did...for all of us !
    Cheers

    I'd agree that Slim was a great soldier and probably the best British general of the 2nd World War; indeed, he was quite possibly the best Allied general of the War for all the reasons outlined above by Tom Canning. And Defeat into Victory is deservedly a great military standard since its first publication in 1961. Regrettably, the CBI was both during and after the War, a neglected theater of the operations and Slim (together with "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell) have been overlooked by history much too often. If one were to be objective and did not play personal favorites, Slim would have to rate very highly as a commander, stratetgist, tactician, and logistics planner; indeed, to repeat my opinion, he was arguably the best Allied general of the War given the limitations and constraints placed upon his command and operations. Bill Slim was also very popular with the Australian public as governor-general during his term in the 1950s.
     
  10. Herakles

    Herakles Senior Member

    A memory I will never forget.

    As G-G, he appeared at the RMC on Queen's Birthday to inspect us cadets prior to us parading the Queen's Colour.

    It was snowing and as he came down the steps to the dais, he lifted his sword to avoid tripping on it - exposing a brilliant scarlet lining to his greatcoat. The sight of that and the craggy face glaring at us all, was quite something.

    He later said that it was only at his wife's insistence that he wore the greatcoat. After all, us cadets weren't.
     
  11. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    I thought he was a fantastic Commander and honed an excellent fighting force that never got the recognition that it deserved.

    Owen, next time you see that chap who talked about Mountbatten, smack him one for me. A gentleman who didnt deserve the end he got.
     
  12. Union464

    Union464 Member

    A memory I will never forget.

    As G-G, he appeared at the RMC on Queen's Birthday to inspect us cadets prior to us parading the Queen's Colour.

    It was snowing and as he came down the steps to the dais, he lifted his sword to avoid tripping on it - exposing a brilliant scarlet lining to his greatcoat. The sight of that and the craggy face glaring at us all, was quite something.

    He later said that it was only at his wife's insistence that he wore the greatcoat. After all, us cadets weren't.

    A Staff Cadet at RMC when Bill Slim was governor-general, Herakles? Now that really is a while ago.
     
  13. ozjohn39

    ozjohn39 Senior Member

    A small anecdote on Bill Slim.

    When GG of Australia, he undertook a tour of the outback. He came to a VERY isolated homestead and a man was sitting on the verandah having a smoke. He had no idea who the visitor was and the GG came up, offered his hand and "hello, I'm Slim"!

    The Aussie responded, "Yeah, 'Slim' who?'

    'Slim' is a common nickname for a tall lanky bloke, and often a short stocky bloke too, as Bill Slim was.

    John.
     
  14. Herakles

    Herakles Senior Member

    He certainly wouldn't have been confused with Slim Dusty!
     

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