Liberation of Bergen Belsen

1SAS Belsen

1SAS T Troop at Belsen.

The first British troops to reach Belsen was a patrol commanded by Lt John Randall 1 SAS of Frankforce. On April 15, 1945, Lieutenant John Randall and his driver (Likely Cpl John (Jock) Scott Brown (3321353) were motoring through forests of pine and silver birch in northern Germany when a terrible smell hit them, a cloying stench of rot and excrement that seemed to hang in the air like a plague miasma. Randall and his driver were the first Allied soldiers to enter Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

A few minutes later Randall was joined by others from the troop. ‘We stood aghast,’ one recalled*. ‘We simply could not comprehend that human beings could treat their fellow men in such a brutal and heinous way.’

This page will feature members of 1SAS with links to further reading.

*Quote by Johnny Cooper


A few minutes later Randall was joined by others from the Troop. Reg Seekings and Johnny Cooper, along with the chaplain, Fraser McLuskey and Major John Tonkin.


Of the 1SAS recce screen, it was Lt John Randall and his driver Cpl Brown who made the first appearance, approx 30mins later to be followed by another jeep with Major Tonkin and Sgt Seekings. Sgt Duncan Ridler and Johnny Cooper arrived later still as did units of 63rd Anti-Tank Regmt, from which OC Lt Col Taylor took temporary command and had the Camp Commandant Josef Kramer placed under arrest.

According to GHQ Liaison Regmt War Diary, presence of the Camp was notified by high ranking German Officer at 159 Bde HQ on 12 April 1120hrs. A negotiated cease-fire then followed. Further note at 2020hrs 13 April records that “Belsen Camp is not yet captured”.
The following 14 April, POW camp at Fallingbostel with allied prisoners was also located.

Earliest organised entry into the camp was made on 15 April at 1615hrs, with Capt JW Gray GHQ Liaison Regmt, Maj J Tonkin 1SAS Bgde & Brigadier Glyn Hughes, Assistant Director Medical Services, making a specific inspection of the hutted camp area.


The 1SAS party contained Duncan Ridler, John Randall, Victor Long, Peter Weaver, Reg Seekings and others.

They were ordered to stay there until help came, this came at 4.00pm that day in the form of a fumigation truck and the first ones fumigated were the SAS party as they had to push on.

Only Peter Weaver stayed on, as interpreter to Lt.Col. Taylor OIC 63 Anti Tank Regiment RA who were the first troops to stay any length of time in Belsen.


John Randall
john randall 1sas
Born 20.2.1920 Hampstead,London
son of John and Margaret May (nee Newman) Randall
father served as Captain KRRC in WW1
educated Arnold House School
educated St Lawrence College, Ramsgate
office boy, Shell Mex House
83 Light Anti-Aircraft Battery,R.A. January 1940 (Gunner Sgt)
124 OCTU,Llandrindod Wells, Wales 1940
Commissioned 2Lt R.A. 1941
GHQ Liaison Regiment (G Group G Squadron) 6.6.1941 (2Lt Lt)
GHQ Liaison Regiment (F Squadron) 14.1.1944
1 SAS (HQ Squadron – Signals Officer) 19.3.1944 – 1.10.1945 (Lt)
Mention in Despatches (France 1944)
business consultant postwar
married Jane (2 children)
Autobiography with M.J. Throw :- The Last Gentleman of the SAS (2014)

John scott brown 1SAS
Cpl John (Jock) Scott Brown (3321353)
Left (with arms folded) is Jock Brown served with 1 SAS 25.2.1944 – 16.11.1945

Major John Tonkin
john tonkin 1SAS
Tonkin (Standing)


Reg Seekings
reg seekings 1SAS
Read More

Johnny Cooper (L)
johnny cooper 1sas

parent unit 2 Bn Scots Guards (ranks)
parent unit 6 Bn Green Howards (Yorkshire Regiment) (officer)
born 6.6.1922 Leicester
resided Bradford, Yorkshire
educated Wyggeston Grammar School
apprentice with Messrs Vickers and Wheelers, Bradford
enlisted 2.4.1940 Caterham
Sots Guards (Guards Depot)
8 Commando (3 Troop) 1940
2 Bn Scots Guards April 1941
L Detachment SAS 1941-42 (Pte – L/Sgt)
1 SAS (A Squadron + HQ) 1942-43 (Sgt)
Middle East O.C.T.U. 1943
1 SAS (HQ + A Squadrons) 1944-45 (2Lt – Cap)
Depot Parachute Regiment 1946-47
Territorial Army (Lt) 1947
22 SAS
died 12.7.2002 (Aged 80)
Buried St. Mary The Virgin, Moreton, Essex, England

Keith MacLellan
keith maclellan 1SAS
Read More HERE


Victor Long
Those horrific images were seen at first hand by 82-year-old Victor Long, of Essex, a former SAS member who was one of the first British soldiers to enter the camp. “These memories stay with you, you can never forget.”


Peter Weaver 1SAS
Peter Weaver

Only Peter Weaver stayed on, as interpreter to Lt.Col. Taylor OIC 63 Anti Tank Regiment RA who were the first troops to stay any length of time in Belsen.
Photo courtesy of Joanna Weaver (daughter)


Duncan Ridler
Arrived later in evening/afternoon
duncan ridler 1sas

Fraser McLuskey (Rev)
Chaplain to the Forces Fourth Class ​
fraser mcluskey 1SAS

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This archive has been established after my own relative, Reg Price, took part in the liberation and subsequent humanitarian effort of Bergen Belsen in April 1945. Reg produced this famous sign at Belsen. As part of the 113th DLI, Reg and his comrades were at Belsen for 5 weeks and left when the last hut was empty and ceremonially burnt down. This archive compiles all available resources to build a lasting tribute to all the men and women who helped - any unit, any nationality. If you have a relative, or any info, on the relief effort at Belsen, we’d love you to please get in touch. Email us: you Nick Price CreativesFacebookTwitter