The Burma Star Association backs the Forgotten Allies appeal
General Bill Slim, known as 'Uncle Bill' to the men of the XIVth 'Forgotten' Army he commanded in Burma during WW2, is seen as one of Britain's greatest ever military commanders. As told in his best-selling memoirs, Defeat into Victory, he is widely credited for saving the Allied war effort in the East. So we were thrilled when the General's grandson, The Hon. Mark Slim - now Chairman of the Burma Star Association - penned these words in support of the Forgotten Allies fundraising cause:
"The XIV Army comprised the largest multi-racial fighting force ever formed and The Burma Campaign one of the toughest battlegrounds of the Second World War. By the end of the campaign the Allied forces deployed in Burma represented close to one million men and women from almost 30 countries in Europe, Africa, North America and Asia. They fought in some of the most difficult terrain imaginable with heat, monsoon and tropical disease adding to the difficulties of supplying and caring for such a large force over enormous distances.
The soldiers and airmen of the many nations that made up the Allied forces in Burma underwent enormous hardship. Many of them arrived in an environment very different from their homeland and stayed there for a period of several years without a single visit home. The war in Europe was given priority and the XIV Army was always at the back of the queue for equipment, news and attention and why it nicknamed itself The Forgotten Army. But despite this and the fact it faced a fearsome enemy with no interest in human rights, the XIV Army working closely with the RAF and USAF, developed into a formidable fighting force that thoroughly defeated the Japanese.
The XIV Army achieved this because it became a united, skilful and determined force and its successes and achievements developed a tremendous morale; what we refer to today as a really strong team spirit. This fighting force which had arrived from all over the globe and backed by many local inhabitants, represented many different cultures and religions but fought as one, for one purpose to achieve one outcome. And the fact that it succeeded so emphatically is a great credit to everyone involved. If like me your relatives were part of this great cause and achievement, you have every right to feel very proud of them - as I do."
The Burma Star Association still works to this day to relieve need, hardship or distress among men and women who served in HM and Allied Forces or the Nursing Services in the Burma Campaign of the 1939-45 war, or are otherwise entitled to be holders of the Burma Star or Pacific Star with Burma Clasp and for their widows, widowers or dependants.