Douglas Merson Steel

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Douglas Merson Steel
Douglas Merson Steel in uniform
Douglas Merson Steel
Born 5 April 1897(1897-04-05)
Keighley, Yorkshire
Died 24 May 1941(1941-05-24) (aged 44)
HMS Hood
Education Mrs Stothert's Private Preparatory School, Boston Grammar School, Cambridge University
Employer Royal Field Artillery; Royal Navy
Spouse Margaret Steel
Children Four children
Parents Thomas Steel, Mary Steel

Douglas Merson Steel was the husband of Margaret Steel, of Soberton, Droxford, Hants. He was born in Keighley, Yorkshire on 05 April 1897 to Thomas and Mary Steel. The family ultimately resided in Boston. He was educated at Mrs Stothert's Private Preparatory School until age 9 (1906). He then attended school at Boston Grammar School, where he was awarded the Parry Gold Medal in 1914, and later, Cambridge University (MA).

He first saw military service in the First World War. He was commissioned as an officer in the Royal Field Artillery. During his service he was wounded once and reached the rank of acting Captain. Following the war, he resumed his academic studies, then took a commission in the Royal Navy in the early 1920s.

By September 1927 Douglas had been promoted to Instructor Lieutenant Commander. He subsequently served on the staff of the Royal Naval Engineering College, Keyham (HMS Vivid) from September 1928 to August 1929. In 1929 he and Margaret were married. They would ultimately have four children.

From September 1930 to September 1932, he served in the cruiser HMS Dorsetshire. He then served aboard the battleship HMS Resolution from September 1933 to July 1935. He was promoted to Instructor Commander in September 1935. From March 1936 to February 1937, Douglas served at the HMS Ganges training establishment in Shotley.

Following Ganges, Douglas attended a course of instruction and was posted to the battle cruiser HMS Hood on 6 August 1939 on which he was Chief Gunnery Officer. He was killed in action aboard Hood on the morning of 24th May 1941.

In May 1941 durig an engagement with the German Navy the Hood was hit. A shell penetrated the deck and exploded in the ship's magazine. At precisely 06:00 hours on 24 May 1941 the entire contents went up and the Hood was blasted apart. Douglas was one of the 1,416 men who perished in that moment (only three survived). The massive explosion was caught on film, which over the years since has been seen by millions worldwide.

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