Field Marshal Sir William Slim
I will buy this. Especially if it's done as an audiobook. This is fantastic.
Here's Field Marshal Slim, reflecting on his early defeat in Burma in WWII:
"The only test of generalship is success, and I had succeeded in nothing that I had attempted…Defeat is bitter. Bitter to the common soldier, but trebly bitter to his general. The soldier may comfort himself with the thought that, whatever the result, he has done his duty faithfully and steadfastly, but the commander has failed in his duty if he has not won victory–for that is his duty. He has no other comparable to it. He will go over in his mind the events of the campaign. ‘Here,’ he will think, ‘I went wrong; here I took counsel of my fears when I should have been bold; there I should have waited to gather strength, not struck piecemeal; at such a moment I failed to grasp opportunity when it was presented to me.’ He will remember the soldiers whom he sent into the attack that failed and who did not come back. he will recall the look in the eyes of men who trusted him. ‘I have failed them,’ he will say to himself, ‘and failed my country!’ He will see himself for what he is–a defeated general. In a dark hour he will turn on himself and question the very foundations of his leadership and his manhood.
And then he must stop! For, if he is ever to command in battle again, he must shake off these regrets and stamp on them, as they claw at his will and his self-confidence. He must beat off these atacks he delivers against himself, and cast out the doubts born of failure. Forget them, and remember only the lessons to be learnt from defeat–they are more than from victory."
I'd forgotten how good much of his Blackwoods stuff was, Many thanks for sharing it.
Bravo, Dr. Lyman, for reminding us of the treasure trove of insight that can be found in the pages of "Unofficial History."
A very well written account that holds true even to this day Robert and I can confirm that. Thank you for sharing it.
However, I wish to bring forward the issue pertaining to the legacy of colonisation. I don't view this article as a source for highlighting the benevolence of the Empire.
Infact, the very opposite. The fact is that the British Empire did usurp through force, deceit and the accompanying violence a land from it's original inhabitants. One simply cannot wish away policies of the Doctrine of Lapse to gain control of the various kingdoms, nor, can we wish away the politics of religion to ensure that one side always fought the other( which they were doing earlier admittedly).
The "Benevolence' of the Empire is to be seen in the clear light of day, as a methodology for ensuring control of the population and not as a tool for emancipation.
Had there been equality then why would an Oxford educated young man of obvious talent been disenfranchised from a club membership?
the past is what it is, all powers (not just imperial Britain) have used force to coerce a restive population. The second step post forced compliance is establishing a rule of law administered by the victors to ensure perpetuity- how brutal or "civilised" such a rule is always a matter of debate.
The same principles continue to be seen in the countless conflicts that dot our planet even today ; at the end it is about the victory of an ideology over another, about control; which is done through force and then policies backed by force.
The revisiting of the past is always contentious as it is dependant on where you stand and look at the past from. Yes, it sounds awful, but that's life.
best regards and thanks for the very interesting articles. I look forward to reading the compilation and will definitely recommend it for my "Paltan" library too
Thank you Rob. It's a wonderful article which illustrates so clearly the challenges to soldiers of the Empire in assisting the Police and civil authorities in India; beautifully written by Slim. It captures his affection for and understanding of India and the soldiers serving there.