Veterans mourn death of former KOSB and SAS commander

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TRIBUTES have poured in for Colonel Clive Fairweather, former commanding officer of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers and deputy commander of the Special Air Service (SAS), who has died from a brain tumour at the age of 68.

Colonel Fairweather, who often featured in TheSouthern, where his comments as a military expert were much valued, was taken ill in June.

Born in Edinburgh in 1944, he had enlisted in the KOSB as a private soldier, before rising to the rank of full colonel. He also undertook three tours with the SAS and was security adviser to the Iranian and Jordanian royal households during the early 1970s.

Colonel Fairweather was second-in-command of the 22nd SAS at the time of the Iranian embassy siege in London in 1980.

His last army posting was at Edinburgh Castle, where he was security officer for the capital’s world-famous military tattoo.

Between 1994 and 2002, Colonel Fairweather was Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons in Scotland, quickly establishing a reputation as a champion of prison reforms.

Awarded a CBE in 2003 for his lifetime of public and national service, for most of the last decade he had worked as chief fundraiser for the ex-service personnel charity Combat Stress.

Fellow former CO of the 1st Battalion, KOSB, Brigadier Allan Alstead said Colonel Fairweather had been held in enormous regard by the men he commanded, and by every level of rank underneath him.

“The private soldiers adored him and thought he was a great leader,” he said. “He was a motivational leader, and a man who could take people forward and do things that they didn’t want to do, and do them very well.”

Local ex-KOSB officer Donald Fairgrieve, who led the campaign against the regiment’s amalgamation in the 1990s, said Colonel Fairweather’s many former comrades and friends in the Borders would be deeply saddened by the news of his death.

“We knew that the outcome of Clive’s illness, caused by an inoperable brain tumour, was death, but the speed of its coming has shocked his many friends,” Mr Fairgrieve told TheSouthern this week.

“The regiment has lost a man who was a soldier’s soldier, who was respected by all who were fortunate enough to know him.

“Clive was a thoroughly decent man, and a born leader. He will be sadly missed, not only in the regimental family, but in the wider community nationally.”

Colonel Fairweather was commissioned into the KOSB in July 1964, and it was after four years’ service, which included a year-long tour of duty in the Far East, that he applied for SAS selection.

He was one of only four men out of 42 candidates to make it through and was later promoted to captain.

Between 1969 and 1971, he was involved in a number of operational tours with 22 SAS, including Sharjah, Northern Ireland, Iran, Oman, Dhofar and Jordan. He was injured in a booby-trap bombing in Belfast in 1972, and investigated the capture and murder of Captain Robert Nairac by the IRA.

In 1979, he was appointed second-in-command of 22 SAS, a period most notable for the Iranian embassy siege in London.

In 1984, he was appointed CO at the Scottish Infantry Depot in Glencorse, and from 1987 until 1989 was CO of the 1st Battalion, KOSB. In March 1991, he was promoted to Colonel of the Scottish Division.

Although he was offered promotion to brigadier as well as defence attache posts in 1993, Colonel Fairweather turned these down, opting to take early retirement from the army.

A main board trustee of the KOSB regiment, recent years saw him turn his hand to broadcasting, journalism and writing, and he was a regular commentator on 
defence-related topics for a number of newspapers.

He was very familiar with the Borders, with one of his passions walking and running along the region’s old disused railway lines.

Colonel Fairweather married Ann Dexter in 1980 and he is survived by his former wife, son Nicholas, and daughters Charlotte and Amelia.