In 2011 the National Army Museum in London held an online poll to nominate Britain’s greatest general. The result was a tie between the Duke of Wellington and Field-Marshal Sir William Slim.
I voted for Slim myself. He is remembered for his command of the Fourteenth Army in the Burma campaign of 1942-5, where by his extraordinary powers of leadership he transformed a defeated and dispirited force into one that inflicted the greatest defeat that the Japanese army has ever suffered.
Slim had dreamt since boyhood of becoming an army officer, but his family background prevented that, until the First World War gave him his chance. Over the next decades he would fight in theatres from France to the Northwest Frontier of India, collecting wounds and decorations.
Although this book refers to him throughout as “Bill”, rather over-familiar for my liking, and it could have been better edited (note to W&N’s editors: there is a difference between “naught” and “nought”, and between “prophesy” and “prophecy”), I recommend it. I still rate him above Wellington, and Uncle Bill will, I hope, show you why.