Captain David Blakeley is one of the few people in the world who is able to speak about missions behind enemy lines. He was Second in Command of the elite British military unit the Pathfinders, also known as “The Ghost Platoon”. He led the most audacious mission of the Iraq War, commanding a patrol on a mission deep behind enemy lines – the subject of his first book, Pathfinder, which was published in 2012, and was a Sunday Times bestseller. He was amongst the first British soldiers operating in Afghanistan post 9/11, working with Afghan Warlords and irregular forces.
At 21 years old David was the youngest Captain in the British Army. He has presented at military seminars, and was chosen as the British Army representative for a series of NATO ‘Partnership for Peace’ programmes. After a serious injury on a mission he left the military in 2006, but not before regaining full use of all his limbs and 100% physical fitness.
In 2013 David authored Maverick One, where he tells firsthand the story of his selection into the Pathfinders and his missions in Afghanistan. His next book, Pathfinder, provides a gripping insight into the Pathfinders themselves, a shadowy unit, just 45 men strong, that plies its trade from the skies. His latest book is Ships, Shawls and Loyal Service: The Stories of Three East Anglian Brothers, published October 2016. Inspired by his own 18th Century ancestors, David relates the compelling tales of three brothers’ very different paths of life.
He has since worked as a consultant to film and television companies and a number of high profile computer games including the latest Alien Vs Predator, and he is the presenter for a number of TV format shows in development. David also works as a model and has fronted a number of advertising campaigns, including being the face of Harley Davidson.
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SHIPS, SHAWLS AND LOYAL SERVICE: THE STORIES OF THREE EAST ANGLIAN BROTHERS – Buy it here.
Ships, Shawls and Loyal Service details the history of three 19th century brothers, each of whom saw some success in his chosen occupation, but each quite distinct from the others in what he achieved. Inspired by the extensive family tree drawn up in the early 20th century by one of his great-uncles, David Blakely relates the stories of his three ancestors. With strong roots in rural Suffolk, the three Blakely brothers were born at the end of the 18th century into a long-established family. Their ancestors had been gentlemen farmers, but none of the brothers followed that occupation. The eldest spent a year as a midshipman in the Royal Navy and six years as an officer in the Army, before becoming involved in a rural church community in north Norfolk. The second served as an officer on East India Company ships, sailing to India and China and finally being promoted to captain. The youngest brother lived in Norwich and became a well-respected retailer and manufacturer in the textile trade. Ships, Shawls and Loyal Service is a fascinating insight into the lives of three brothers, each of whom took a very different path in life. Early history of the brothers’ family is also explored, including their grandfather’s business as proprietor of a stage-coach company in Ipswich and his acquaintance with the artist Thomas Gainsborough.
PUBLICATION DATE: 28th October 2016
MAVERICK ONE: THE TRUE STORY OF A PARA, PATHFINDER, RENEGADE – Buy it here.
For the first time ever an elite British operator tells the gruelling story of his selection into the Pathfinders – Britain’s secret soldiers. Pathfinder selection is a brutal physical and psychological trial lasting many weeks. It rivals that of the SAS and takes place over the same spine-crushing terrain, in the rain-and-snow-lashed wastes of the Welsh Mountains. For two decades no one has been able to relate the extraordinary trials of British elite forces selection – until now.
Captain David Blakeley goes on from completing selection to serve with the Pathfinders in Afghanistan post 9/11, where he had a gun held to his head by Al Qaeda fighters. From there he deploys to Iraq, on a series of dramatic behind-enemy-lines missions – wherein he and his tiny elite patrol are outnumbered, outgunned and trapped.
MAVERICK 1 is unique and extraordinary, chronicling the making of a warrior. It culminates in Blakeley fighting back to full recovery from horrific injuries suffered whilst on operations in Iraq, to go on to face SAS selection.
PUBLICATION DATE: 23 May 2013
PATHFINDER: A SPECIAL FORCES MISSION BEHIND ENEMY LINES – Buy it here
First in – the official motto of one of the British Army’s smallest and most secretive units, 16 Air Assault Brigade’s Pathfinder Platoon. Unofficially, they are the bastard son of the SAS. And like their counterparts in Hereford, the job of the Pathfinders is to operate unseen and undetected deep behind enemy lines. When British forces deployed to Iraq in 2003, Captain David Blakeley was given command of a reconnaissance mission of such critical importance that it could change the course of the war. It’s the story of nine men, operating alone and unsupported, fifty miles ahead of a US Recon Marine advance and head straight into a hornets nest, teeming with thousands of heavily-armed enemy forces. This is the first account of that extraordinary mission – abandoned by coalition command, left with no option but to fight their way out of the enemy’s backyard. And it provides a gripping insight into the Pathfinders themselves, a shadowy unit, just forty-five men strong, that plies its trade from the skies. Trained to parachute in to enemy territory far beyond the forward edge of battle – freefalling from high altitude breathing bottled oxygen and employing the latest skydiving technology – the PF are unique. Because of new rules introduced since the publication of Bravo Two Zero, there have been no first-hand accounts of British Special Forces waging modern-day warfare for nearly a decade. And no member of the Pathfinders has ever told their story before. Until now. Pathfinder is the only first-hand account of a UKSF mission to emerge for nearly a generation. And it could be the last.
PUBLICATION DATE: 10th May 2012