Bristol: Viscount Slim remembered

 The leader of the 'forgotten army' has been remembered in his home city of Bristol.

Viscount William Slim led the multinational 14th Army - the so-called forgotten army during World War II - and yesterday (7 September) a plaque to honour him and his colleagues was unveiled at the Cenotaph in Bristol. Clifton Diocese Interfaith Officer Father Robert King laid a wrath and said a prayer at the ceremony.

William Slim was baptised at St Bonaventure's church in the Bishopston district of Bristol, where he was born in 1891. He went to St Brendan's Catholic School, then in Berkeley Square in Clifton, Bristol.

Father Robert King represented the people of Clifton Diocese. He joined faith leaders from the Hindu, Muslim and Sikh communities at the ceremony led by the Lord Mayor of Bristol's Chaplain Reverend Prebendary Harold Clarke.

Fr Robert King said: "It was an honour to be present for the unveiling of the plaque remembering Bristol's Viscount Slim of Burma and the 14th Army.

"Although often referred to as the forgotten army - nothing could be further from the truth now the plaque has been unveiled and is on display to Bristolians and all who visit our city.

"In a fitting tribute to his father, Viscount Slim spoke to the large crowd who had gathered at the Cenotaph. He recalled how the slain of the 14th Army were laid to rest together. They were buried as fellow soldiers - regardless of creed and race. He used this as a metaphor and as an example of multiculturalism and integration in Bristol and the wider country. Clearly there are many lessons we can learn from this previous generation and how it came together during adversity.

"A reception at the Council House followed the ceremony, at which it was a particular privilege to meet veterans Dave Clements and Bernard Deere who told me how their Catholic faith sustained them in time of war."

A podcast report from the ceremony is available from The audio report contains a conversation with the Catholic veterans Dave and Bernard, the plaque's sculptor Mike Baker, and Leader of Bristol City Council Councillor Helen Holland, as well as Father Robert King.

Bernard Deere a member of the Burma Star Association and parishioner at St Joseph's in Cardiff said: "Viscount Bill Slim was greatly admired by all who served under him

"I met him on one occasion when he came to our forward position. Informality was the name of the game. He told us to break rank and gather round for an informal chat. He certainly lifted the moral at that time.

"It was very important to see a Catholic priest at today's ceremony. I remember when I was in Burma - at the front - and on one occasion a priest came to celebrate Mass. When you've experienced not being in touch with the Church for six months, especially in those difficult conditions, you really do appreciate the need for priests. That one visit and being able to attend Mass, was a milestone during the six months I spent on the frontline."

Dave Clements of St Francis of Assisi parish in Cardiff said: "The reception and ceremony put on in Bristol has been wonderful. We've enjoyed ourselves immensely."

Fr Robert King said this prayer as he laid a wreath of poppies: "Eternal rest grant onto them, Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of Viscount Slim, the dead of the 14th Army and all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen."

Tags: Father Robert King, forgotten army', Reverend Prebendary Harold Clarke., St Bonaventure's, Viscount Slim, William Slim

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