Alastair Borthwick was born in Troon, Ayrshire on February 17, 1913.
By the age of 16 Alastair Borthwick left High School to become a copytaker for the Evening Times, graduating promptly to the Glasgow Weekly Herald. His work involved such things as editing the film content of women and children. He also responded to reader inquiries and compiled the cross word in it.
Alastair Borthwick later spent time mountaineering in the Scottish Highlands which encouraged him to sign up for the war effort against Germany. Reaching the rank of Captain he served as the Battalion Intelligence Officer. Much of his time during his campaign was with the 51st Highland Division’s 5th Seaforth Highlanders. Alastair Borthwick started as a private until he progressed to Second Lieutenant, eventually becoming a Lance Corporal by 1941.
By October 1944 after being transferred to the 5th Seaford Highlanders his most significant feat would happen. Near the end of the war he was leading 600 men behind German enemy lines because of inaccurate maps. The Germans awakened to being flanked by a dug in platoon of Seaforth Highlanders.
One of the most prominent works of Alastair Borthwick is a booked called “Always a Little Further” in 1939. This book was focused on his carefree decade spent mountaineering in the Highlands of Scotland. Included within is his recounting of a journey to Ben Nevis in a lorry full of dead sheep. Initially the book was declined by Fabor and Fabor publishing. Fortunately however he was later accepted by T. S. Eliot who insisted the book be put into print.
Once upon a time Alastair Borthwick was acquitted on the grounds that he wrote accounts of the stories of his battalion. His book Sans Peur (1946) was another popular novel. This book accurately recaptured and recounted his experiences in this incredible series of events during the war. Sans Peur was so well received that it was republished in 1944 as “Battalion: a British infantry unit’s actions from El Alamein to the Elbe, 1942-1945”. This work of his is now enshrined as a non-fiction war classic.
Alastair Borthwick passed in September of 2003. He remains a Scottish icon evermore