William Slim was born in Bristol, 6 August 1891, the son of John Slim and Charlotte Tucker. He was educated at St Philip's School and King Edward's School, Birmingham, 1903-10. He married Aileen Robertson in 1926 (died 1993), with whom he had one son and one daughter.
He was employed as a an elementary teacher and as a clerk at Steward and Lloyds, a metal tube makers, 1910-14, and joined Birmingham University Officers' Training Corps, 1912. He was commissioned in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment with the rank of temporary Second Lieutenant, 1914, and fought at Gallipoli, where he was wounded, 1915. After recuperating in England, he was commissioned in the West India Regiment and served in Mesopotamia, 1916, where he was awarded the Military Cross, wounded again and evacuated to India. He worked as a staff officer at Army Headquarters, India, 1917-20, with the rank of temporary Captain, 1917, promoted to temporary Major, 1918.
He transferred to the Indian Army with the rank of Captain, 1919, and joined the1/ 6th Gurkha Rifles, stationed at Abbottabad, 1920-2, and Malakand, 1922-5, on the North West Frontier. He served as Adjutant of the regiment, 1921-4. He was a student at the Staff College, Quetta, 1926-7. He returned to Army Headquarters, India, as a staff officer, 1929-33, and was promoted to the rank of Major, 1933. He was an instructor at Staff College, Camberley, 1934-6; a student at the Imperial Defence College, 1937; and a student at the Senior Officers' School, Belgaum, 1938. He was given command of the 2/7th Gurkha Rifles, stationed at Shillong in Assam, 1938, and promoted Lieutenant Colonel, 1938, and Colonel, 1939. He returned to the Senior Officers' School, Belgaum, as Commandant with the local rank of Brigadier, 1939.
He commanded the 10th Indian Brigade in Sudan and Eritrea, 1940-1, where he was wounded, and the 10th Indian Division in Iraq, Syria and Persia, 1941-2. He was promoted to the temporary rank of Major General (later Lieutenant General), 1941. He led the Burma Corps, March-June 1942, the 15th India Corps, 1942-3, and the 14th Army in Burma, 1943-5.
He was promoted General, 1945, and appointed Commander-in-Chief, Allied Land Forces, South East Asia, 1945. He was Commandant of the Imperial Defence College, 1946-8. He retired from the Indian Army, 1948. He took a post as Deputy Chairman of the Railway Executive at British Railways, 1948, but shortly afterwards was appointed Chief of the Imperial General Staff, 1948-52, and promoted Field Marshal, 1949.
He was Governor General of Australia, 1953-60. He became Deputy Constable and Lieutenant Governor of Windsor Castle, 1963-4, and Constable and Governor, 1964-70. He died on 14 December 1970.
He was awarded the Military Cross, 1916; DSO, 1941; CBE, 1942; GBE, 1946; GCB, 1950; GCMG, 1952; and GCVO, 1954. He was knighted on the battlefield of Imphal (KCB), 1944, and created a Knight of the Garter and Viscount, 1960.
His publications include: "Defeat into Victory" (1956); "Courage and Other Broadcasts" (1957); and "Unofficial History" (1959). He also contributed articles and short stories to newspapers and magazines under the pseudonym Anthony Mills.
Papers comprising manuscripts of books, articles, lectures, diaries, press cuttings and photographs.
The papers were collected by William Slim's biographer, Ronald Lewin, and given to Churchill Archives Centre by Slim's wife, Aileen, Viscountess Slim, and son, Viscount Slim, and other donors, 1977-2001.