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From the ranks

Over a drop of the amber nectar Mr Free Market and I couldn't remember, or rather disagreed over several things:

Did Tommy Franks rise from the ranks?
Who was the UK General in the First World War who rose from the ranks - dispelling the idea that Edwardian Britain wasn't a meritocracy?
Did Slim hold every rank in the Army?

I could Google them but this late at night I will leave it open...


The British General who rose from the ranks in WW1 was William Robertson. He joined the army as a private in a cavalry regiment in about 1875, was commissioned in India, and rose to be Chief of the Imperial General Staff from 1915 to 1918, when Lloyd George managed to have him kicked out. He wrote an autobiography called 'From Private to Field Marshal' which I assume isn't in print any more.

I think Slim's ranks are discussed in Ronald Lewin's biography. It's a few years since I read it, but from memory, he joined the army as a Kitchener volunteer in 1915, and was commissioned as soon as they got round to issuing ranks.

To add to your original post, around 50% of the officers in the British army were ex-rankers by 1918.

I can't help with Tommy Franks, I'm afraid - he's a bit too modern for me.

Update on Slim.

William J. Slim was an interesting soldier. He served for forty years in the British and Indian armies, rose to be a field marshal, served as governor general of Australia, and wrote what is considered to be one of the best memoirs to come out of the war, certainly among the best written by a senior officer. All of this, and many who read about World War II have never heard of him.
Slim was born the son of an unsuccessful businessman from Birmingham. His father sold wholesale hardware, and went bankrupt when Slim was in his teens, prompting the young man to look for a job that would afford him a paycheck for little outlay. He joined an army officer training course at Birmingham University (somehow without being a student of that institution, and neat trick) and when World War I started, he was mustered into the army as a lieutenant, and sent off to war.

He served first in Gallipoli, then Mesapotamia (later known as Iraq) and when the war ended, joined the Indian army, serving mostly with Gurkha regiments. By the mid-thirties, hed seen enough service that when the war started he soon bounced up to corps command, and was instrumental in the retreat of the British army from Burma. The first offensive back into the country (the Arakan offensive) almost got Slim sacked, but someone perceptively relieved his senior instead, and he got the mans job. He fought, and won, the battles of Kohima-Imphal, and later Meiktila, and reconquered Burma. Afterwards, he was again almost sacked, instead promoted Field Marshal, and made Chief of the Imperial General Staff over the objections of his predecessor, Montgomery. From there, with some diversions, he became the Governor General of Australia, which he did almost until his death.

Was I drunk?

I was drunk wasn't I, as I now seem to recall defering to "The Good Colonel"; now he definately was drunk......

Drunk - not at all, merely warming up - for myself I later discovered that a day drinking Lucozade to ward of the lurgy was not the best grounding for a stomach full of Mr Wadworth's finest....

Lucozade? Is that the drink that "aids recovery" nor not as the case maybe....errr

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