COLONEL Clive Fairweather, who commanded the Kings Own Scottish Borderers in the late 1980s has died aged 68.
A hero of the SAS regiment during the Iranian embassy siege in London in May 1980, and while in command of 1st King’s Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB) he led the regiment’s 300th anniversary, flying the battalion into Edinburgh’s Queen’s Park in military helicopters and marching them up the Royal Mile in full combat order.
He was born in Edinburgh and educated at George Heriot’s School. On leaving school he joined the Territorial Army as a private soldier and gained his wings as a paratrooper in 15th (Scottish) Parachute Regiment.
Trained at the Royal Military College Sandhurst he was commissioned into the King’s Own Scottish Borderers but his heart was set on something more adventurous and after six years with the 1st battalion he applied for a posting to the SAS. After passing the gruelling selection process he spent 13 years in 22 SAS regiment seeing service in Northern Ireland, the Far East and the Middle East, where he advised the Jordanian government on security matters.
After a stint as a staff officer in Germany, in December 1984 he was appointed commanding officer of the Scottish Division’s infantry training depot at Glencorse Barracks outside Edinburgh.
Four years later he took over as commanding officer of 1st King’s Own Scottish Borderers in West Berlin ending his army career in the rank of Colonel and between 1991 and 1994 served as Divisional Colonel of the Scottish Division based in Edinburgh Castle.
A civilian for the first time in 34 years, Fairweather was appointed HM Chief Inspector of Prisons.
Colonel Fairweather joined the fight against amalgamation of the KOSB with the Royal Scots to form the Royal Scots Borderers as part of the Government’s 2004 Defence Review, but in 2006 he concluded that continued legal action to try and save the KOSBs “would not be in the best interest of the army at this critical time”.
“Things have changed drastically in the past few months with the long-term commitment of troops to Afghanistan and Iraq on the verge of civil war, coupled with a chronic and worsening retention and recruitment problem across the regiments.”
And when the end came for the KOSB he said: “The country is losing a fine fighting unit, from an area steeped in fighting and raiding at a time when we could do with all the military manpower - and especially Infantry - we can lay our hands on.”
In 2009 he offered his words of wisdom on troop resources in Afghanistan, calling for more helicopters to greatly increase battlefield flexibility and help reduce the grisly toll of casualties imposed by roadside bombs.
“So too will real-time intelligence enhancements,” he said. “But above all, someone needs to be talking to the Taliban and others far more.”
Latterly Fairweather acted as Scottish fundraiser for the charity Combat Stress, which provides help for service personnel suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and he proved to be a tireless advocate of its cause.
Col Fairweather said today’s British Army, including the KOSB’s successor – the Royal Scots Borderers battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland – is much more attuned and sensitive to mental health issues.
Earlier this year when further amalgamation of regiments was being looked at Col Fairweather warned that it was the loss of military capability that people should worry about.
“It is said that money – or lack of it – is the root cause,” he said. “Understandable maybe, except as a nation we are all living at a better standard than say the 1950s when we had troops and aircraft carriers all over the place.
“What they really mean is that we are not prepared to spend as much money on defence anymore.”
Appointed OBE in 1990 and CBE in 2002, he is survived by his former wife Ann and children Nick and Charlotte.