Jake Corey

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The Final Tally


Colonel Philip (Tom) Cobley MBE, late PARA

A Soldier’s Soldier

Once in a while a book comes along from a soldier and it’s different. You can just feel it from the opening sentence. It’s different to the usual books written by a General. Sure, they all have a great story and publishers know they’ll sell. `The Final Tally’ is uncluttered by the need to be politically correct and Colonel Philip (Tom) Cobley writes as he sees it. Whether a soldier will admit it or not, he has a vision of his ideal military career. Well for Col Cobley this was no vision, he lived it, fought it and then wrote about it.

The `The Final Tally’ is the autobiography of Colonel Philip (Tom) Cobley MBE, late PARA. It describes a unique military career spanning forty years of active service, from 1969 to 2010. Sixteen years served in the Australian Regular Army and twenty-five in the British Army. Whilst service in two armies is unusual; Colonel Cobley was able to serve in five Infantry regiments culminating in his service with the Parachute Regiment, a unique achievement. His record is unprecedented, having served in the front line of ten wars and armed conflicts and being awarded seventeen medals from Australia, Britain and international organizations.

Tom saw operational service in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The `The Final Tally’ graphically depicts what it is like to be in the front line and `in the line of fire. This in itself is a darn good read for any soldier but Tom Cobley also gives a strategic overview of the political and military decision-making process at the highest levels of military and government.

Colonel Cobley gives a straight talking soldiers’ view of life and experiences in the PARAs, where he was responsible for training the SAS, SBS, and the Pathfinder Platoon, 5 Airborne Brigade in High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) and High Altitude High Opening (HAHO) from 36,000 feet. To the rest of us, that’s edge of the seat parachute jumping.

If that doesn’t just take your breath away, Colonel Cobley qualified for an unprecedented sixteen sets of foreign parachute wings, and as the Commanding Officer of the 4th Battalion, The Kings Own Royal Border Regiment, he founded his own free-fall display team. The book covers it all from start to finish, two armies, ten wars, seventeen medals and every continent. Col Cobley has an easy and expressive writing style but it is typical of Tom to understate situations and events, for example, his description of the ordeal every soldier has to face who aspires to passing P (Para) Company selection.

The Verdict

I’m no different to other soldiers who’ve served their country for decades, every long serving soldier has a tale to tell, but Tom’s story is different. Col Tom Cobley is a thinking man’s soldier, a soldier’s soldier. He’s as comfortable reciting poetry, some of it with a profound sense of nostalgia, as he is in citing historical fact and discussing the strategic impacts. He shows insights that can only be gained after a certain type of military experience and time served.

I’ve known Tom Cobley for over fifteen years, when we meet we talk soldiers’ talk. But this book took me by surprise, I couldn’t turn the pages fact enough and I stayed up all night. If you’re a child of the 60s with no military experience, it will bring back memories and tears to your eyes. If you’re a soldier it will make you smile and laugh but you’ll grip the book as if it’s a part of you. If you’re thinking of joining the Army, well this is how it’s done, essential reading. But if you’re one of those rare soldiers who started their military career in the 60s and just signed off, you may recognise yourself in his pages and it doesn’t get better than this. Read it and enjoy it. `The Final Tally’ by Colonel Philip (Tom) Cobley is available from Amazon and worth every penny. 5 *s no question.

(See you in the Gym Tom.)

Click the link below to go to Amazon.co.uk




A.W. Lambert

A Great Read

I enjoyed this book. A great plot and a page turning pace. Very good characterisation, especially with the taxi driver and the old lady. Realistic action and not too much ‘padding’, which is often a criticism with thrillers. I would have liked to have had a little better feel for the main character but that was a minor point.

I thought that it was a pity that the book hadn’t been proof read better and the cover graphic didn’t do this book justice but it was a great read, which is the main point.

I thoroughly recommend this book if you enjoy Stephen Leather type books and I will read other books by this author.

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