Alastair Borthwick is one of the most well-known storytellers from the Scottish Highlands. He was born in the year 1913 in the countryside of the region. He would move to the city of Glasgow at an early age where he attended Glasgow High School. He would drop out at the age of 16 in order to pursue his career as a writer. He would start at the Glasgow Herald a local newspaper where he would collect stories as one of the newspaper’s writers that he traveled into the countryside to obtain. He would use these to publish his first major book titled Always a Little Further. It was around this time that he was forced to take a break from his career as a writer in order to help serve his country during World War II as part of the 51st Highland Division’s 5th Seaforth Highlanders
During his time serving in the 51st Highland Division’s 5th, Seaforth Highlanders Alastair Borthwick would help to push the German army out of northern Africa. Eventually, he would fight with his division through the majority of Europe from Italy all the way into Holland. In total during his time with his battalion, he would travel over 3000 miles and experienced a great deal of encounters with the enemy.
Whenever people would ask later in his life with the most memorable experience of the war was for him he would always tell the story of the time that he would take 600 men behind enemy lines. He was in Holland and was tasked with gathering intelligence behind enemy lines. The mission was successful but he would say that he had never felt lonely in his life then he did that night.
Alastair Borthwick made sure not to only include stories from his point of view during these storytelling episodes. He would also make sure to include the accounts of his fellow soldiers that way Battalion: A British infantry unit’s actions from the battle of El Alamein to Elbe, 1942-1945 would include a number of viewpoints to tell a more complete picture of what the experience of war was truly like.