Tributes to Seaham hero who lied about his age to fight in World War Two

Wilfred Veach of Seaham
Wilfred Veach of Seaham
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A WAR veteran with a distinguished military career has died at the age of 90.

Wilf Veach lied about his age to sign up to the Army as a 17-year-old, serving with the Durham Light Infantry before becoming a gunner with the Royal Artillery.

Wilfred Veach (left) of Seaham

Wilfred Veach (left) of Seaham

He served in Germany and France during World War II and after peacetime was called, he went on to be stationed in Palestine for two years.

He was awarded the 1939-45 Star, Battle of Britain, France and Germany Star, the Defence Medal and the War Medal for his time in service.

After he was demobbed, he returned to his job at Doggarts in Church Street in his home town of Seaham, where he worked as an assistant, and Smith’s furniture shop, also in the high street, before moving on to Brian Mills catalogue firm in Hendon until his retirement at the age of 63.

He also served in the police specials for around 20 years and was based in Houghton and also spent time in the Territorial Army and the Home Guard.

He was also a familiar sight in the pubs of Sunderland’s East End, where he would sell seafood snacks to drinkers.

Wilf was married to Amy, who died four years ago just days before they were due to mark their 60th wedding anniversary.

The couple were parents to Susan Fox, 54, and Linda Udale, 59, who is married to Billy, 66.

He was a regular at Poppies cafe in Seaham and Downey’s fish and chip shop on its seafront, and was well known among the store owners and fellow shoppers in the town.

Linda said: “He was a gentleman, very old school and polite.

“He would never leave the house without wearing a tie.

“He was out shopping with my husband in Church Street and everybody knew and loved him.”

Susan added: “He lived on his own and was very independent.

“He still loved to talk about his time in the Army and tell us about stories.”

Wilf died on Monday, the 100th anniversary of World War I’s declaration.

He was admitted to hospital after a fall. Once in hospital, tests showed he was suffering from liver cancer.

He was being given respite care at Cedar Court home in Deneside when his condition deteriorated and he died.

Wilf’s funeral will be held today at St Mary Magdalen’s RC Church in Harbour Walk, Seaham, at 2.30pm, followed by a service at the crematorium in Sunderland at 3.30pm.