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|Eighteen-year-old Johnny Cooper volunteered for the SAS in 1941. Johnny Cooper was one of the first two non commissioned soldiers to join L detahcment of the SAS the regiment, and helped build the service up to the effective force it is today. Johnny Coopers second mission was led by Stirling and with his friend Reg Seekings. It resulted in the destruction of nearly a score of petrol lorries and four food dumps. The next raid on Benina airfield was a classic SAS small-scale raiding operation carried out by three men, Stirling, Corporal Seekings and Corporal Cooper. After a difficult descent through a wadi they climbed through the wire and sat in the middle of the airfield some way from the buildings they were going to attack and waited until the RAFs diversionary raid finished. Lieutenant-Colonel John Cooper served with the SAS in North Africa and France throughout World War II, returning to work alongside his old comrades in Malaya after a brief interlude. In 1962 he left the army to work for the Sultan of Omans armed forces where he served until his retirement. He is thought by many to be "Mr SAS" Johnny Cooper, the youngest of the Originals, whose service in the Regiment spanned almost 20 years, and who started as a Parachutist and left the army a lieutenant-colonel.|
Reg Seekings (deceased)
|Reginald Seekings was born in Stuntney, near Ely in 1920. He attended the local school from five to 14. Although almost blind in one eye, Seekings was a fine boxer, and at the age of 18 joined the Cambridgeshire Regiment (TA) and won a number of contests in East Anglia. He wanted to be a professional boxer his brother recalled, "The more he fought, the more he wanted to fight." His hero was Eric Boon, the lightweight champion.In 1940, he volunteered for 7 Commando (along with his brother) - 7 Commando was part of Layforce, commanded by Lt-Col Bob Laycock - and saw action with them before they were disbanded. Three days after Stirling explained his plan to form L Detachment SAS and had it approved by his Commander-in-Chief, Claude Auchinleck, he arrived at Geneifa to recruit men from Layforce for his new brigade.and reg joined immediately. A training camp was set up at Kabrit from where they received minimal help from the HQ Quartermaster. Their first raid was carried out on a New Zealand encampment, and involved removing tents and a piano. Johnny Cooper said later about the incident. "We nicked fourteen tents and a piano, we thought it might come in handy but we could never find anybody to play it." Reg Seekings was one of the original members of L Detachment SAS Brigade, founded by David Stirling in North Africa in July 1941. Reg Seekings was involved in their first operation to parachute 64 troops in the Gazala area. High winds caused havoc and, of the 64 who dropped, only 21 returned that night including Reg Seekings. His first successful raid was led by the charismatic Paddy Mayne on Tamet, where with two others, they destroyed 24 German aircraft and the pilots mess. His next successful raid was led by Stirling and resulted in the destruction of nearly a score of petrol lorries and four food dumps. The next raid on Benina airfield was a classic SAS small-scale raiding operation carried out by three men, Stirling, Corporal Seekings and Corporal Cooper. After a difficult descent through a wadi they climbed through the wire and sat in the middle of the airfield some way from the buildings they were going to attack and waited until the RAFs diversionary raid finished. Stirling recommended Seekings for a DCM. His citation records: "This NCO has taken part in 10 raids. He has himself destroyed over 15 aircraft and by virtue of his accuracy with a tommy-gun at night, and through a complete disregard for his personal safety, has killed at least 10 of the enemy. " Seekings was also involved in the surprise landings at Termoli, on the east coast of Italy where he had a narrow escape when in Italy in 1943, a truck carrying 24 of his platoon was hit by a mortar round just as he was adjusting the tailgate; he was one of only two survivors. Reg was rewarded for his many acts of bravery in North Africa and was awarded a DCM, and in Italy he received the military medal. Reg along with the rest of the SAS were next in action in Sicily. In an attack on a four-gun coastal battery at Cape Murro di Porco, machine-gun fire from an enemy pillbox and a nearby mortar post were causing casualties. Reg Seekings calmly rushed the pillbox, hurling grenades and killed the occupants with his revolver. He then gathered his section and with coolness and determination led the advance on, and wiped out, the mortar post. The following year in Normandy Reg Seekings landed by parachute on D-Day, Seekings and A Squadron made their base in the Morvan area near Dijon. Here they were to carry out raids and work with the Maquis. He was hit in the back of the neck by a bullet which passed close to his spine. A medic - who later turned out to be a dentist - attempted to remove it, but Seekings carried the bullet in him throughout the remainder of the war. Towards the end of the war, as the Allied forces pushed into Germany, it was in the small town of Celle that Seekings and his men were confronted with a terrible sight. The Germans, in attempting to move concentration camp inmates, had panicked during an air-raid and slaughtered hundreds of innocent people, including women and children in the railway station. Reg and his unit was ordered to Bergen Belsen. As his close friend Johnny Cooper was to recall years later: "We stood aghast. We simply could not comprehend how it was possible for human beings to treat their fellow men in such a brutal and heinous way. The effect on Reg was one of utter rage." The SAS was disbanded in September 1945 and, on demobilisation, Reg Seekings took over the Rifleman Arms public house in Ely where he stayed for the next nine years before going to Southern Rhodesia, to set up a farm and later became an inspector in the police Anti-Terrorist Unit. In 1982 Reg Seekings returned to the UK. Sadly Reg passed away in Suffolk on the 16th March 1999.|
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