The Royal Regiment Of Fusiliers Museum (Warwickshire)

St John's House, Warwick, CV34 4NF

Call Us on 01926 491653 visit our museum shop Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter

Field Marshal The Viscount Slim KG, GCB, GCMG, GCVO, GBE, DSO, MC of Yarralumla and Bishopton

He had been so impressed by the Gurkhas at Gallipoli, that in 1919 after being posted to India he transferred to the Indian Army and was posted to the 1st/6th Gurkha Rifles and in due course commanded the 2nd/7th Gurkha Rifles.

In 1941, he was appointed to command the 10th Indian Brigade in the Sudan, where he was wounded again. Later he commanded 10th Indian Division in Syria, Persia and Iraq, earning the DSO. In March 1942, he was appointed Corps Commander of the 1st Burma Corps and led them throughout the fighting retreat under most appalling conditions through jungle and mountains back to India. At the end of 1943, he assumed command of the 14th Army, newly formed in India for future operations in Burma.

Here General Slim had a great opportunity before him, but also a heavy responsibility. Never so far had British or Indian troops succeeded in defeating the Japanese, whose morale was very high. He had to implant in his formations the belief that they had better and more intelligent soldiers than the Japanese and were capable of defeating them. Even when he had done this, he still had to contend with problems of supply and communications, which he did largely by the use of air transport, employed in this theatre with skill and effectiveness not found in any other.

Having defeated the Japanese offensives in 1944 in the Arakan, in Manipur and in Assam, he launched a powerful offensive across the Chindwin and Irrawaddy. Mandalay fell in March 1945 and Rangoon soon afterwards. Before the fighting in Burma ended, he was appointed C in C Allied Land Forces, South East Asia, and began to prepare for the reconquest of Malaya. Fortunately Allied atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki made this unnecessary.

Slim returned to England in December 1945. After being Commandant of the Imperial Defence College, he became Deputy Chairman of the Railway Executive. In 1948 he was recalled by Mr Atlee to take over from Field Marshal Montgomery as Chief of the Imperial General Staff, when he became Field Marshal. In May 1953, he was sworn in as Governor General of Australia, where he served until 1960. "He left in Australia" wrote the Times "an indelible impression of character, honesty and friendliness, as well as a powerful mind." He died in 1970, having been Governor and Constable of Windsor Castle.

In 1956, Field Marshal Slim had published 'Defeat into Victory'. In the final paragraph of the book he wrote as follows:

"There is one thought that I would like to be the overall and final impression of this book - that the war in Burma was a soldiers' war. There comes a moment in every battle against a stubborn enemy when the result hangs in the balance. Then the general, however skilful and far-sighted he may have been, must hand over to his soldiers, and leave them to complete what he had begun. The issue then rests with them, on their courage, their hardihood, their refusal to be beaten either by the cruel hazards of nature or by the fierce strength of their human enemy.

"That moment came early and often in the fighting in Burma; sometimes it came when tired, sick men felt alone, when it would have been easy for them to have given up, when only will, discipline, and faith could steel them to carry on. To the soldiers of many races who, in the comradeship of the Fourteenth Army did go on, and to the airmen who flew with them and fought over them, belongs the true glory of achievement. It was they who turned Defeat into Victory".

If Slim thought well of them, they thought the world of him.