Phil Ashby

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Phil Ashby
Birth namePhilip James Conyers Ashby
Born1970 (age 47–48)
Helensburgh, Scotland
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branchRoyalMarineBadge.svg Royal Marines
Battles/warsSierra Leone
AwardsQueen's Gallantry Medal

Philip James Conyers Ashby QGM (born 1970) is a former Royal Marines commando officer, notable for his escape and evasion in the jungles of Sierra Leone in 2000.

Early life[edit]

Ashby was brought up in Helensburgh on the west coast of Scotland, the son of a Royal Navy officer based at HMNB Clyde, and educated at Glenalmond College on a scholarship. While in school he started rock climbing.[1]


Ashby joined the Royal Marines and was commissioned a week shy of his eighteenth birthday. He read engineering at Pembroke College, Cambridge on an armed forces bursary. Later on in his career he trained as a mountain leader and was also a jungle warfare instructor.

Sierra Leone[edit]

In January 2000, Ashby was deployed to Sierra Leone as a military observer with the UN peacekeeping forces stationed there, tasked with disarming the rebel fighters from the Revolutionary United Front led by Augustine Gbao. However, the situation became hostile and the house where Ashby and two fellow British officers and a New Zealand officer were captured and held hostage. After a narrow escape, they sought refuge at the Kenyan army outpost where they helped defend the camp against several days of attacks. Eventually a decision was taken to escape through the jungle. Fighting dehydration and hunger, the four men survived close encounters with the enemy and, assisted by local tribesmen, were eventually rescued by the British Army.[2][3] After returning, Ashby was awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal.[4] The story of his escape is narrated in one episode of the documentary series Banged Up Abroad.

Other work[edit]

Ashby's autobiography, entitled both Unscathed: Escape from Sierra Leone and Against All Odds: Escape from Sierra Leone was published in 2003. He has also written for other publications including The Sunday Times, The Daily Mail and The Lancet. Ashby is an IFMGA-certified mountain guide and runs his own consultancy.

Personal life[edit]

In September 2000, Ashby was to learn that he had contracted a parasite from his time in Sierra Leone; it had entered his spine and left him paralysed from the waist down, though he has since made a full recovery.[5] He and his wife have two daughters. During climbing seasons, he is usually based at the French Alps.[6]


  1. ^ Burgh man honoured for gallantry
  2. ^ "UN observers escape from rebels". BBC. 12 May 2000.
  3. ^ "Jungle escape for British soldiers". BBC. 12 May 2000.
  4. ^ "No. 56168". The London Gazette (Supplement). 6 April 2001. p. 4246.
  5. ^ "Survivor's tale". The Scotsman. 5 May 2002.
  6. ^ Phil Ashby Mountaineering – About Archived 18 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]