Tag Archives: War Historian

Home / War Historian
2 Posts

The literary works of Alastair Borthwick, a noted outdoorsman and war hero, are considered timeless because of his touching style of writing and the content that he featured. Born in 1913, he is a native of the Rutherglen area who was raised on Troon and then eventually Glasgow. He spent his life in Scotland experiencing adventure after adventure before serving in World War 2 where he led his battalion to victory behind enemy lines during the dead of the night. The first book that Alastair Borthwick wrote covered his experiences as a mountaineer and was a collection of the Open Air pieces that he had written for the Glasgow Herald. While he may have begun his career at 16 after dropping out of high school to pursue journalism, he ended up moving onto a career in broadcasting and then later television.

As a storyteller, Alastair Borthwick used a style of writing that touched his readers. It was honest about the human experiences he had while he was climbing through these hills. He wasn’t just talking about a sport in these pieces, he was talking about different lives and cultures that existed throughout the mountains and countrysides of Europe. Working-class people were wanting something they could afford to do while they couldn’t find work. While the rich were not satisfied that their sport was being taken over by the working class, but there was nothing that they could do to stop the social change that was taking place throughout all of Europe.

He and the work that he has done are remembered fondly years after he passed away in 2003. Both Always a Little Further and Sans Peur, a book about his life during World War 2, are both still loved today and read widely. The stories he wrote about the military campaigns that he experienced first hand on the front lines on North Africa were widely praised and his second book became a classic in the genre. These stories gave a true and honest account of what it was like to be a junior officer.


Earliest Days in Ruthergen

Do you know many authors who have had such success to have had the honor of having any of their works considered classic? Well, there is one author whom the Scottish have been looking up to for nearly half of century. Alastair Borthwick (1913-2003) was born into a family from Rutherglen and later they moved to Troon before finally settling in Glasgow. By the time Alastair Borthwick had reached the age and time to graduate from Glasgow High School he had gained a reputation as a young writer who wanted to go places. 

Work at the Glasgow Herald

He soon got a freshman position at the Daily Herald in Glasgow making a copy from the reports coming into the newspaper from the phone. Alastair soon found his first big opportunity when he was given the position to head the new column “Open Air,” about the community and people surrounding the events taking place in the Highlands of Glasgow. Alastair Borthwick soon began realizing his love and dream of becoming a writer when he found opportunities to write about the people he met in the mountaineering community after taking up the sport of mountaineering. At those weekend mountaineering excursions the mountaineers began sharing their stories with him and Alastair would write about them in Open Air, giving his stories a wider reading and popularity. Not only did the local people of Glasgow enjoy Alastair’s column, but later when there were collected and recommended for publishing they came into the hands of the Faber Publishing company. 

First Publication

As providence would have it, before they came to the chief editor, Alastair’s collection “Going a Little Further,” were rejected. However, they came to the attention of T.S. Eliot, the Chief editor, and Eliot saw the importance and relevance of the writings and gave the green flag to go ahead and allow Faber to be the representative publisher. Going a Little Further has become one of the most sought after publications among those searching for outdoor readings.

The Mirror

It was soon after his short stay with the Herald that he was hired by the Daily Mirror in London. Alastair Borthwick moved to London with the hopes of a long career, but soon became disquieted and troubled by the social life of High Street and decided to return to Glasgow where he felt he could better fit in socially. The BBC immediately hired him as a broadcaster.