Posts in Category: Climbing

Alastair Borthwick: A Life in Four Stages

Stage 1: The Early Years

The early life of Alastair Borthwick was characterized by movement. He was born February 17, 1913 in Rutherglen, Lanarkshire, but raised in Troon until age 11. At that time, he moved to Glasgow. At age 16 Borthwick left his high school in Glasgow to begin a career in journalism.

Stage 2: His Writing Career Begins

He found his first job in journalism as a copytaker for the Evening Times, however, Borthwick soon joined the staff of the Glasgow Weekly Herald. Although he was an adolescent, Alastair Borthwick had a big role at the publication because there were only five people on staff. He often covered rock-climbing in his column for the paper’s open air page. Those columns formed the basis for his book Always A Little Further. Published in 1939, the book quickly became a classic in the outdoor literature genre. The following year Borthwick got married.

Stage 3: World War II

During World War II, Alastair Borthwick served with the 51st Highland Division’s 5th Seaforth Highlanders. Most of his service was in the role of battalion intelligence officer and climbed to the rank of captain. Immediately after the war, Alastair Borthwick wrote a book that detailed his military unit’s history during the last three years of the war. Sans Peur, which was originally published in 1946, also became a classic in its genre.

Stage 4: After the War

After the war, Borthwick was a broadcaster for the BBC. He was awarded an OBE for his story on the 1951 Festival of Heavy Engineering. In the 1960s, Borthwick was a writer for Grampian TV. While he wrote many programs, he is remembered for his series Scottish Soldier, which was told from the point of view of a common soldier. Borthwick died at age 90 on September 25, 2003.

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