Soldier Terry remembers sacrifices by war heroes

Terry Seeds
Terry Seeds
Share this article

“Some people are born to be an artist or a photographer, I was born to be a soldier.”

Terry Seeds joined the Army in 1965 at the age of 17-and-a-half.

But he had known for much longer that he wanted to serve his country.

Terry said: “My uncle dressed me up in a uniform and I used to march up and down my grandma’s pathway.

“From five years old, I have always been interested in the Army and when I was old enough, I joined.”

Terry grew up in Stockport and his uncles served in various parts of the Army, including the Royal Artillery and light infantry.

His father was in the Navy and served during the Second World War, particularly in the south Atlantic and the Pacific.

Terry said: “When I decided I was going to join the Army, my father was much upset because he thought I was going to follow in his footsteps.

“At that time, anyone with spectacles couldn’t join the Navy.”

Terry went to a recruitment office in Manchester, where the Navy, Royal Air Force and Army were all based on different floors of the same building.

“I went straight up to join the Navy, but they said, ‘Sorry, you have glasses on’.

“I went downstairs to the air force, passed their intake tests and failed on colour blindness. They said I couldn’t join the air force either.

“I went straight past the Army and went into the street. A recruiting sergeant chased me up the street and brought me back and I signed on for the Army.”

Terry joined the Royal Signals and received his call-up papers in the post on April 8, 1965.

He had heard stories about the two main Army bases - Catterick and Aldershot - and was pleased to find out he was going to Richmond.

“I thought Richmond, Surrey sounded nice,” he said.

But when he got on the train at Manchester’s Victoria Station, he realised he was travelling to Yorkshire.

It turned out he was going to Catterick after all, which is close to the town of Richmond, North Yorkshire.

Terry started as a teleprinter operator, typing messages to be sent hundreds of miles in a long-range communication system.

But after three months, he was moved to a different job.

Terry said: “It was 30 to 40 words a minute without mistakes. I couldn’t manage it. I could do 30 to 35.”

Terry became a clerk technical, similar to a storeman.

He said: “We did everything from radio, radar, aircraft spares, weapons, ammunition, normal bedding and clothing, food, everything.”

Terry was later posted to Birgelen, on the German border with Holland, with a monitoring unit.

After two-and-a-half years, he went to Singapore with the 28th ANZUK Brigade.

He was promoted to corporal while there and listened to messages from different people around the time of the fall of Vietnam.

But his home there was very different to in the UK.

Terry said: “In the married quarters were me and my wife and daughter, and my son was born out there.

“We used to have lizards running up and down the walls and on the ceiling. We called them chit-chats because that was the sound they made. They would go behind pictures or anything on the walls because it was cool.

“We would get cockroaches the size of matchboxes and snakes in the back garden. We had fruit bats flying around the kitchen and all sorts.”

From there, Terry was posted back to Germany, before he and his wife decided to leave the Army in 1976 and return to England.

They settled in Chorley and made the town their home.

Terry said: “I look back on my time in the Army with a great deal of pleasure.

“It’s one of those things that gets in your blood. I can’t get rid of it.”

But life outside the Army was difficult for Terry.

He said: “I couldn’t settle. I had numerous jobs. I worked at the Royal Ordnance Factory in Euxton, I worked at a chicken hatchery for a while and had my own picture framing business on Gillibrand Street.”

Terry joined the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry regiment, on Devonshire Road, in the 1970s and stayed with them for 15 years.

He was a section commander, leading eight to 10 soldiers.

Terry eventually left the Army again, but his desire to be a soldier remained.

Now 67 and a grandfather-of-five, he said: “Obviously I’m getting older and I’m too old for any significant service in the Army.

“About five years ago, I was on parade with the British Legion as a standard bearer on the Flat Iron when they dedicated the statue.

“Four guys came in First World War uniforms and I was intrigued.

“They were from a living history group. They said they did museum presentations, go to schools and colleges and things like that, and do a lot of work for English Heritage.

“I decided to do that and joined up on the spot.”

Terry, of Saville Street, Chorley, is now a dedicated member of the Manchester Regiment 1914-18 and attends several events each month.

He has spent around £7,000 buying First World War uniforms, hats, kit, gas masks, weapons and other items.

Terry said: “If you want to do something, you do it the whole hog.”

He speaks to people about the war and shows the items used by the soldiers, often going into schools to talk to children.

Terry said: “We dress them all up. The children love it.”

While there are other living history groups based on the Second World War, Terry is keen to make people more aware of the First World War and hopes the centenary will help.

He said: “The millions of people killed in the First World War are not remembered much.

“Everybody thinks about Hitler, the Holocaust, things like that.”

He added: “The First World War was 100 years ago but people in this country need to know about it. They need to know what sacrifices were made.

“I want to perpetuate the memory of the men who fought and died because they loved this country.”

Terry is determined to continue honouring the men who died and attended a small ceremony at the war memorial at Astley Park last Monday to mark the centenary of the outbreak of war.

He has a “bunker” at his home filled with war-related items and even has a garden of remembrance with poppies.

And he hopes more people will join the living history group to continue the legacy.

Terry said: “We want people who genuinely are interested in the history of this country and who have a shred of patriotism left. The idea is to pass on what we know and what we have learned to younger people so that these people never get forgotten.”

To find out more, go to