Second World War and SAS hero remembered with new street signs
- Credit: Michael Fox/Roll-of-Honour.com
A former SAS sergeant major and Second World War hero has been recognised with new street signs in his home village.
Two signs named Seekings Way have appeared on the A142 southern bypass near Ely in honour of Albert Reginald Seekings.
“Following the suggestion of one of Stuntney’s residents, the village council thought it appropriate to support the application to rename our newest road,” Wendy Fox, chair of Stuntney Village Council, said.
Mr Seekings was one of the first members to join the Special Air Service (SAS) and the village honour has been discussed for a year prior to being erected.
“Getting the street signs has been going on for quite some time, since last year, I think,” Ms Fox said.
“His dangerous missions during the war earned him very prestigious gallantry awards.
“It is with great pride that we see one of our locals remembered; he is very well-decorated and is one of our claims to fame.”
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Ms Fox added: “For me, a hero is someone who goes above and beyond in bravery, and what he did really was bravery in those days.”
Born in Stuntney in 1920, Mr Seekings attended the village school and went from farm-hand at 14 to squadron sergeant major in one of the world's toughest regiments, the SAS.
He was known to be a talented boxer as he aimed to reach the professional ranks.
To encourage him to pursue an in-ring career, he used former British lightweight champion Eric Boon of Chatteris as a role model.
And despite being almost fully blind in one eye, he joined the Cambridgeshire Regiment aged 18 and won numerous bouts across East Anglia.
As a member of the Cambridgeshire Regiment, Mr Seekings saw action in the Middle East in 1940 before being one of the first to volunteer for the SAS when it was founded a year later.
He was part of the service’s first operation in Libya during the Battle of Gazala, where out of the 64 parachutists that dropped, only 21 including Mr Seekings survived.
Because of his bravery, Mr Seekings was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Military Medal when he was one of two survivors after a truck carrying 24 of his platoon was hit by a mortar round in Italy in 1943.
He was also among the first to parachute in during the Normandy Landings in 1944.
Mr Seekings' wartime work was top secret, and he was one of the first Allied servicemen through the gates of the Belsen concentration camp in northern Germany.
After being parachuted into the Egyptian desert, Mr Seekings risked death almost daily with the SAS, taking part in daring raids on enemy airfields, destroying numerous aircraft and acting as his commanding officer's semi-official bodyguard.
When the SAS disbanded in 1945, Mr Seekings became landlord of the Rifleman Arms in Ely for nine years before he and his wife Monica moved to what was then Southern Rhodesia in the 1950s to take up farming.
It was here, as an inspector of Marlborough Police Field Reserve, that he helped to establish the Police Anti-Terrorist Unit in the 1960s.
Mr Seekings died aged 78 in March 1999.
In 2006, the SAS hero’s 11 Second World War medals were sold for an estimated £60,000 to a private UK collector.
At the time, Mr Seekings’ medals were described as "one of the most important gallantry groups from the last war to ever come up for auction" during a distinguished military career.
The medals, along with service documents and photographs, were part of a collection held by Ron Penhall who acquired them directly from Mr Seekings.
They were sold at a London auction house, but at the time, the buyer did not want his details to be released.
David Erskine-Hill from auctioneers Dix Noonan and Webb said after the sale: "This is a great result. It was a super set of medals.
“If ever there were a group of medals which had a signpost on it saying 'follow me', this was it.”
Mr Erskine-Hill added: "It was one of the most important gallantry groups from the last war ever to come up for auction.
“The medals have gone into a private collection in the UK and will probably resurface again at some later stage.”