At the outbreak of the Second World War, Slim was given command of 10 Indian Infantry Brigade. Like most of the Indian Army, it was not trained and equipped for service in a modern war outside of India. Indeed, when his brigade was first issued motor transport, Slim had no driving instructors and it was through the assistance of an old school friend (hen the District Commissioner) that instructors were found from local garages or among civilians who owned their own cars. This sort of improvisation and finding of practical solution when the system fell short was to typify Slim’s command.
His brigade was initially deployed to Iraq but then diverted to the Sudan and he first saw action as a senior commander on the Ethiopian-Sudanese frontier where he was to again be wounded. While recuperating back in India and employed on the General Staff planning for operations in Iraq, Slim was selected to command 10 Indian Division in that theatre, replacing its commander who had fallen ill.
He may well have seen out the war in the relative side-show of the Middle East, had it not been for the emerging crisis after the Japanese invasion of the Malay peninsula and the fall of Singapore.