The life of author and journalist Alastair Borthwick is one that has been followed by readers and listeners around the world. When it comes to the sport of climbing, he is considered an expert and has written about the subject extensively. A collection of these pieces was compiled in his book Always a Little Further. In this book, Alastair Borthwick recounted the times that he spent hiking all around the hills of his native Scotland and beyond. Not only did he enjoy the sport itself, but he also enjoyed the experiences that he had in the process and the many interesting people that he was able to meet during the process. There was an untold world that the writer was able to explore during a time where a lot of people were unable to find employment.
While Alastair Borthwick may have passed away at the age of 90 in 2003, he is still well-remembered today because of his work. During World War 2, he served in North Africa with the Highland Light Infantry. During his time with the military, he mainly served as a Battalion Intelligence Officer in which he achieved the rank of Captain. He had been promoted to the position of war substantive lieutenant in 1941 after transferring to Reconnaissance Corps. Near the end of the war, Alastair Borthwick led the 600 men of his battalion behind enemy lines in the middle of the night. When the Germans came to wake up in the morning, they found that his men had dug in behind their troops.
The experience of war that Alastair Borthwick had was written about in Sans Peur. While the book went by that name when it was first published, in 1994 it was republished under the name of Battalion. While there had been books written from the perspective of retired generals, his book was written form the viewpoint of a junior officer who had been risking his life on the front line instead of just giving commands for others to follow. It ended up being highly acclaimed and is well-read even today.
Born in 1913 in Scotland, Alastair Borthwick achieved fame as the writer of Always a Little Further. Despite being known as a writer, throughout his life he was also a journalist, broadcaster, war historian, and rock-climbing enthusiast. He left high school when he was 16, and started working for the Evening Times. While he was only a copytaker at the time, that launched his career in journalism. He then moved on to become part of the Glasgow Weekly Herald staff, and, given the small staff, he had various duties, from writing content to compiling the crossword.
He became interested in mountaineering after discovering the newspaper’s open air page. Most of his experiences climbing ended up in the newspaper, and then later on used most of his material for his Always a Little Further novel, which almost didn’t get published. The content of the book was considered unusual and did not impress Faber and Faber, but T.S. Eliot insisted on the book getting published – and it never went out of print since getting launched in 1930.
During World War II, Borthwick signed up and reached the rank of Captain, spending most of his time with the 51st Highland Division’s 5th Seaforth Highlanders. His time during the war ended up being part of Sans Peur, another popular novel written by Alastair Borthwick. He was acquitted just before hostilities stopped, and the division’s Colonel allowed him not to attend many ceremonies afterwards in order to write about his experiences during the war.
After the war, Alastair Borthwick moved to a small cottage with his wife (whom he married in 1940) on the coast of Jura. He continued to work as a broadcaster, writing columns for the News Chronicles, and he also scripted and presented programs for the Grampian TV. Borthwick passed away in 2003, after spending the last 5 years of his life at Beith, in a nursing home. He considered himself to be a journeyman writer, being able to write well about most subjects required. He noted that we would be happy if he was remembered as someone who was always printable and never broke a deadline.