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Last Updated: Monday, 30 July 2007, 10:35 GMT 11:35 UK
Honour bid for youngest war hero
Raymond Steed
Raymond Steed signed up just two months after turning 14
The bravery of a 14-year-old boy, the youngest from Britain to die serving in World War II, should be remembered say campaigners.

Raymond Steed was a galley boy on a Merchant Navy ship when it was blown up after hitting a German mine off the African coast in 1943.

The teenager from Newport was just 14 years and 207 days old when he died, five months after joining up.

Merchant Navy Association officials now want a statue erected in his honour.

Raymond and 20 crew mates died in April 1943 after his ship, the Empire Morn, exploded after hitting a U-Boat mine near its destination of Casablanca, Morocco.

His body was recovered and buried in the Ben M'Sik military cemetery near the city.

He has been officially recognised by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as the youngest recorded fatality of the British service war dead.

Kenneth Steed
My mam didn't open the telegram for three days - it just sat there because she knew what was in it.
Kenneth Steed, brother

His brother Kenneth, 75 said just two months after Raymond's 14th birthday, he vanished to go to war.

"He was full of life and full of adventure. He had a part-time job delivering groceries on a bike and was always out and about.

"But then one day he was gone. He had told my mam and dad what he was doing and they couldn't stop him. He didn't say goodbye but just went."

Joining in December 1942, he served on the hospital ship Atlantis where he was awarded the Africa Star with clasp during Operation Torch when Allied troops landed on the beaches of North Africa.

Then he transferred to the freighter Empire Morn as it set off in convoy from Milford Haven for Gibraltar and Casablanca where it was hit.

His parents Alice and Wilfred, were given the news they feared.

Raymond Steed's grave
Raymond Steed's grave is next to British Army General Claude Auchinleck

"I remember one day there was a knock on the door and my mother just screamed. There was a telegram boy there on a red bike with the news," said his brother.

"My mam didn't open the telegram for three days. It just sat there because she knew what was in it. It was terrible.

"The ship's captain visited us to say how brave my brother was. But they [his parents] never got the chance to get to his grave - it was a different world then.

"But I think it would be fantastic if they could build a memorial for him. He was so young to die like that and it would be marvellous for the family for him to be marked."

Merchant Navy Association officials are now fundraising for the 15,000 needed for a statue in honour of Raymond in Newport.

Vice-president of the association Bertram Bale, 75, said: "A memorial to Raymond would honour not only him but all the seamen who were killed in the war.

"It would be a fitting tribute to the sacrifices made by these unsung heroes who died on the Atlantic convoys bringing supplied from America to Britain."

WWI tunnel 'messages' exhibition
04 Jul 07 |  North East Wales


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