Ewen Southby-Tailyour

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Ewen Southby-Tailyour
Birth nameSimon Ewen Southby Tailyour
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branchRoyalMarineBadge.svg Royal Marines
RankLieutenant colonel
Battles/warsAden Emergency

Dhofar Rebellion
Northern Ireland
Falklands War

Former Yugoslavia
AwardsSultan of Muscat's Bravery Medal
Officer of the Order of the British Empire
Other workYacht skipper, author

Lieutenant-Colonel Ewen Southby-Tailyour, OBE[1] is an author, sailor, and retired Royal Marine. He served for 32 years in the Royal Marines and retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel. After retiring from the Royal Marines he concentrated on his sailing and writing careers and has written a number of books on military history and the Royal Marines.

Early life[edit]

The son of the late General Sir Norman Tailyour, former Commandant General Royal Marines, Southby-Tailyour comes from a family with strong ties to the Royal Marines; an uncle, two cousins and a step-brother have previously served in the Corps. He attended Stubbington House School, Nautical College Pangbourne[2] (where he was captain of sailing) and the University of Grenoble in France.

Military career[edit]

Southby-Tailyour's early career included active service operations in Aden, Northern Ireland, Oman, the Falkland Islands, Hong Kong and 13 winters in the Norwegian Arctic developing the use of fast raiding and assault craft for supporting commando operations. He also served in the United States, India, Djibouti, the West Indies, the North Sea (oil-rig protection), Cyprus, Corsica, Malta, Bahrain, the Yemen, Kuwait and the South Atlantic 1977-1979 (before the Falklands War).

He was attached to the USMC in 1977 in the eastern Mediterranean and, earlier, to the French Commando Hubert in Toulon with which he attended their combatant nageur course and served in a submarine, a helicopter carrier and ashore in Corsica and Djibouti with the French Foreign Legion. Following Arabic language courses at the Berlitz School of Languages in London and the Command Arabic Language School in Aden he was seconded for two years as a reconnaissance platoon and company commander with the Sultan of Muscat's Armed Forces during the Dhofar War where he was awarded the Sultan's Bravery Medal for gallantry in action - the approximate equivalent of the UK's Distinguished Service Order (DSO).

In 1978, he was the officer commanding a small Royal Marines detachment that was posted to the Falkland Islands. The following year he was promoted to major.[3] It was then that on his own initiative he sailed around and extensively charted the waters around the islands, and had a 100+ page notebook filled with data on harbours, inlets and landing spots. This work, for which he was elected the UK's 1982 Yachtsman of the Year, and his personal knowledge of the area would later prove valuable in the Falklands War. During this campaign he was the inshore navigational adviser to the amphibious commanders prior to leading the major landings. He was appointed OBE and recommended for the DSC.

Southby-Tailyour's final four years service were spent on the staffs of the Commandant General, Royal Marines, and the Director General Surface Ships (Amphibious Group), helping to design and procure the next generation of amphibious shipping and craft, most notably Ocean, the Albion-class landing platform dock, the LCVP Mk 4 and the LCU Mk 10.

Post-military career[edit]

On retirement he was employed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for duties in the Republic of Serbian Krajina and, subsequently, in Croatia along the Dalmatian Coast. He was retained by ABS Hovercraft Limited as their amphibious and military adviser while also learning to 'fly' hovercraft. Currently he is believed to be aligned to Griffon Hovercraft.[citation needed]

In 1991, he established an amphibious consultancy that advised builders and governments on the design of amphibious vessels and the procedures for their operation.

He has published 15 books on amphibious-related subjects (including two novels) and is a commercial yacht skipper and amateur, high latitude explorer.

His book 3 Commando Brigade: Helmand Assault[4] reached number seven in the Sunday Times best selling list. He has also written an historical novel of the Falklands that has been optioned for a full-length feature film. His other interests include watercolour painting, shooting and snorkelling. He was a member and chairman of the World Ship Trust and a member of the National Maritime Historical Society and the Society for Nautical Research. He was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation. He is a member of the Society of Authors.

He has been a member of the Royal Yacht Squadron since 1970 and has twice been awarded an engraved Rolex watch for exploring in high latitudes as well as winning the Camrose Trophy. Since 1972 he has been a member of the Royal Cruising Club which has twice awarded him the Goldsmith Exploration Award for exploring in Iceland and the Falkland Islands. He entered for the first nine, quadrennial Two Handed Round Britain and Ireland races and navigated six Fastnet races. The Ocean Cruising Club awarded him their Award of Merit for sailing single-handed during an Arctic winter.

In 2006, he inaugurated and continues to organize the single-handed, Jester Challenge for yachts between 20 and 30 feet overall. Held annually the destinations are, in turn, Newport, Rhode Island, United States, Terceira in the Azores and Baltimore in the Republic of Ireland.

He sat on the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) lifeboat committee for ten years, was the South West area governor of the Ocean Youth Club, and was the South West area member of the cruising committee of the Royal Yachting Association (RYA).

Personal life[edit]

Southby-Tailyour lives in south Devon and the French Pyrenees.


  • Falkland Islands Shores [Macmillan/Nautical, 1985]
  • Reasons in Writing: A Commando's View of the Falklands War [Leo Cooper, 1993]
  • Amphibious Assault Falklands: The Battle for San Carlos co-written with Michael Clapp [Leo Cooper/Orion, 1996]
  • Blondie: A Life of Lieutenant-Colonel HG Hasler DSO OBE [Leo Cooper, 1998]
  • Jane’s Amphibious Warfare Capabilities [Jane’s. Biannual to 1999]
  • Jane's Amphibious and Special Forces [Jane’s. Biannual since 1999 to 2014]
  • The Next Moon. A Special Operations Executive Agent in France, co-written with André Hue [Penguin/Viking, 2004]
  • Jane's Special Forces Equipment Recognition Guide [HarperCollins, 2005]
  • HMS Fearless, The Mighty Lion [Pen and Sword, 2006]
  • Skeletons for Sadness [Seafarer Books, 2007]
  • 3 Commando Brigade, Helmand [Random House/Ebury Press, 2008]
  • Commando Assault, Helmand [Random House/Ebury Press, 2010]
  • Nothing Impossible. A Portrait of The Royal Marines 1664 - 2010 [TMI, 2010]. Editor
  • Exocet Falklands. The Untold Story of Special Forces Operations [Pen and Sword, 2014]
  • Death's Sting. Duplicity and Deceit in the Balkans [Westlake Books 2017]


  1. ^ "No. 49134". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 October 1982. p. 12857.
  2. ^ "The Pangbournian, No.40 - News from OPs". Old Pangbournian Society. 2010. Archived from the original on 2 September 2014.
  3. ^ "No. 47738". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 January 1979. p. 328.
  4. ^ 3 Commando Brigade: Helmand Assault. Ebury Press. 2011. ISBN 978-0-09-193776-8.