Honorary awards

Field-Marshall Sir William Slim

The degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) was conferred upon the Governor-General, Field-Marshall Sir William Slim by the Chancellor Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Charles Bickerton Blackburn at the ceremony of conferring of honorary degrees held in the Great Hall at noon on Tuesday 13 October 1953.

Sir William Slim

After the conferring of the honorary degree by the Chancellor (on right), photo, University of Sydney Archives.

Sir William Slim

The academic procession after the ceremony, photo, University of Sydney Archives.

Sir William Slim

Sir William Slim speaking to students, photo, University of Sydney Archives.

Sir William and Lady Slim

Sir William and Lady Slim, photo from 'The Sydney Morning Herald', 14 October 1953, National Library of Australia.


In the address accompanying the conferring of the degree, Sir William was told: 'This University is pleased to honour a great Englishman who has dedicated his life to the service of our race and whose high qualities of mind have found expressions both in noble actions and in noble words'.

Sir William said that in receiving the degree, he had two thoughts: one which impressed him; one which elated him. The first thought was that the degree was conferred on one in no way academically fitted for it. The second thought was 'thank heavens I did not have to pass any exams for it'.

After luncheon in the Holme Room of the Union, at which Sir William and Lady Slim were guests of the Fellows of the Senate, Sir William inspected the guard of honour provided by the
Sydney University Regiment.

The inspection was followed in the afternoon by the Annual Service of Commemoration of Benefactors which was held at 3pm on the lawns fronting the main building and where His Excellency delivered the address. The ceremony, to which all graduates of the University were invited, was attended by some 3,000 people.

Afterwards more than 2,000 guests attended a garden party in the Quadrangle.

Sir William and Lady Slim had afternoon tea with the Chancellor, Sir Charles Bickerton Blackburn, and the acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor A D Trendall, in the Vice-Chancellor's rooms.

Later, attended by members of their personal staff, the Chancellor, and his daughter in-law, Mrs Ruthven Blackburn, they joined the scene in the Quadrangle, where academic robes outshone the suits and tiny hats chosen by most women. Lady Slim wore a loose brown velvet coat with a velvet-trimmed dress, and a pale cocoa-beige shell hat. Among the guests presented to Lady Slim was Mrs A W Morrow, whose husband, Dr Morrow, attended her during her illness.

From the 1953 Senate Report and The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 October 1953, National Library of Australia.