Slim, William Joseph 1st Viscount Slim, born 06-08-1891 in Bishopston, near Bristol, to John and Charlotte Slim, born Tucker, where he was baptized at St. Bonaventure’s Roman Catholic church. He was raised in Birmingham, attending St. Philip’s Grammar School, Edgbaston, Birmingham and King Edward’s School, Birmingham. After leaving school, he taught at a primary school and worked as a clerk in Stewarts & Lloyds, a metal-tube maker, between 1910 and 1914. He joined Birmingham University Officers’ Training Corps in 1912, and was thus able to be commissioned as a temporary second lieutenant in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment on 22-08-1914, at the outbreak of the First World War in later life, as a result of his modest social origins and unpretentious manner, he was sometimes wrongly supposed to have risen from the ranks. He was badly wounded at Gallipoli. On return to England, he was granted a regular commission as a second lieutenant in the West India Regiment. In October 1916, he returned to his regiment in Mesopotamia. On 04-03-1917, he was promoted to Lieutenant. He was wounded a second time in 1917. Having been previously given the temporary rank of captain, he was awarded the Military Cross on 07-02-1918 for actions in Mesopotamia. Evacuated to India, he was given the temporary rank of Major in the 6th Gurkha Rifles on 02-11-1918. He was formally promoted to captain and transferred to the British Indian Army on 22-05-1919. He became adjutant of the battalion in 1921. He married Aileen Robertson in 1926, she died 1993, later Viscountess Slim, by whom he had one son and one daughter. In 1926, Slim was sent to the Indian Staff College at Quetta. On 05-06-1929, he was appointed a General Staff Officer, Second Grade On 01-01-1930, he was given the brevet rank of major, with formal promotion to this rank made on 19 May 1933.
His performance at Staff College resulted in his appointment first to Army Headquarters India in Delhi and then to Staff College, Camberley in England (as a General Staff Officer, Second Grade), where he taught from 1934 to 1937. In 1938, he was promoted to lieutenant-coloneland given command of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Gurkha Rifles
. In 1939 he was briefly given the temporary rank of Brigadier as commander of his battalion. On 08-06-1939, he was promoted to colonel, again with temporary rank of brigadier and appointed head of the Senior Officers’ School at Belgaum, India. As the Burma campaign came to an end Slim was informed in May by Oliver Leese the commander of Allied Land Forces South-East Asia (ALFSEA), Leese died age 83 on 22-01-1978, that he would not be commanding Fourteenth Army in the forthcoming invasion planned for Malaya but would take command of the new Twelfth Army being formed to mop up in Burma. Slim refused the appointment, saying he would prefer to retire. As the news spread Fourteenth Army fell into turmoil and Alan Brooke, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, furious at not having been consulted by Leese, and Claude Auchinleck, the C-in-C India who was at the time in London, brought pressure to bear. The Supreme Allied Commander of the Southeast Asia Theatre, Louis Mountbatten
was obliged to order Leese to undo the damage. On 01-07-1945, Slim was promoted to General and was informed that he was to succeed Leese as C-in-C ALFSEA. However, by the time he took up the post, having taken some leave, the war was at an end. In 1959, Slim retired and returned to Britain, where he published his memoirs, Unofficial History and Defeat into Victory. On 24-04-1959, he was appointed a Knight Companion of the Order of the Garter (KG).
Death and burial ground of Slim, William Joseph 1st Viscount Slim.
On 15-07-1960, he was created “Viscount Slim of Yarralumla in the Capital Territory of Australia and of Bishopston in the City and County of Bristol”. After a successful further career on the boards of major UK companies, he was appointed Constable and Governor of Windsor Castle on 18-06-1964. He died in London on 14-12- 1970, aged 79 and is buried in St Paul’s Cathedral in London.