Arthur Steven was born at 5 p.m. on 13th June 1901 at 34, Cook Street, Glasgow. His father, John Steven, an Iron Riveter Boilermaker, worked in the shipyards on the Clyde. He was also born in Glasgow. On 10th March 1882 he married Janet McCallum. She was 22 years old when she married and was born in Edinburgh Castle.
Nothing is known of Arthur's school years, other than he had a brother James and a sister, Jennifer. However, on 8th May 1919 Arthur joined the Royal Navy as a Stoker, service number K56296. During his Naval service it is known that Arthur served on several ships and was in fact posted as wounded three times (see below). Whilst serving with the Navy he was known as STEVENS as opposed to the name he was born as, STEVEN. That name has stuck ever since and his son, Donald is known as Stevens.
It has been difficult to piece together his Naval Service, but from various pictures, letters and cards it has been possible to date some of the events. As Naval Records become more accessible, it is hoped to add to the text with more detail.
Whilst serving in Portsmouth Arthur met Lily Mary Williams. Lily, previously married, already had five children, who were living in Childrens homes due to her financial state. Arthur took on the children as his own and they all came to live at the family home in Princes Street, Portsmouth. Lily and Arthur had one child, Donald, who was born on 28th October 1930 in Princes Street. On 12th May 1934 Arthur made an honest women out of Lily and they were married at Portsmouth Registry Office.
Arthur Steven served on the following ships:
Arthur was on H.M.S. Renown during the 1927 Royal visit of HRH the Duke and Duchess of York to Australia and New Zealand.
H.M.S. St. Fagan
Originally built as a Saint Class rescue tug, the ship was later used for target towing. It was sunk by an air attack at Dunkirk on 1st June 1940. The photograph was taken on 14th March 1932.
Arthur was on this ship as a Stoker on 15th November 1930.
H.M.S. Ambuscade (D38)
This was a 1,170 ton destroyer measuring 307 feet by 31 feet. It had four 4.7 inch guns, and six torpedo tubes. It had been built at Yarrow and launched on 15th January 1926. It was sold on 23rd November 1946 having survived the war and was broken up at Troon. The photograph was taken in July 1935.
Arthur was a 1st Class Stoker on this ship on 12th May 1934.
This cruiser was built in Portsmouth Dockyards and launched on 14th September 1927. It had a displacement of 9,850 tons and was 595 by 66 feet. It had eight 8 inch guns and eight four inch guns. It was sold on 3rd January 1950 and broken up at Wards, Barrow.
This was a 33,500 ton battleship measuring 660 by 106 feet.
Armaments: 9 x 16 inch; 12 x 6 inch; 6 x 4.7inch.
It was built by Armstrong in 1925. The picture was taken on 23 Feb 1931.
Whilst serving on board the ship was hit by a mine and Arthur was posted as wounded on War Service (see photo below).
The telegram shown below, dated 1st August 1940, has the name of the ship written onto it. It is believed that a bomb came down the funnel and Arthur was pinned to the deck-head. As you can see from the telegram he was posted as wounded but this was not thought to be serious. However, he was very badly shaken and was black and blue from head to toe. For some time he was barely able to walk and the 'near miss' had badly traumatised him. After being seen at the surgery' in Portsmouth RN Dockyard he was deemed to be fit to resume duty and was posted to H.M.S. Hood.
H.M.S. Whitshed (D77)
A destroyer of the modified W Class. It was built at Swan Hunter and launched on 31st January 1919. It was sold on 18th February 1947 having survived the war and was broken up at King, Gateshead. The photograph was taken in September 1936.
H.M.S. Hood was launched by Lady Hood, the widow of Vice Admiral Hood, on 22nd August 1918 at Clydebank. It had a displacement of 44,600 tons and its dimensions were 860 feet 7 ins long, with a beam of 105 feet 2.5 inches. It had a crew of 1,400.
There is much written about the history and final hours of the Hood and I will not repeat this here.
When Arthur was posted to H.M.S. Hood he joined his two brothers in law, Jack Drew, also a Stoker, and Henry "Harry" Huntley who was a Petty Officer Plumber. Jack Drew was moving stores ashore in HM Dockyard Portsmouth when he fell awkwardly and wrenched his knee. When the signal came for urgent sailing of the Hood he was not fit and so missed the sailing. He went on to survive the war. Harry Huntley and Arthur remained with the ship when it sailed and both lost their lives on 24th May 1941. Arthur at the time of his death had been promoted to Acting Stoker Petty Officer . In his last letter home he enclosed a picture of himself taken in the Engine Room on H.M.S. Hood. He said that he was well and happy on one of the Navy's biggest and safest battleships.
On 24th May 1941 the sinking of the Hood was one of the most devastating events of the whole war, none more so than for Lily Steven who was at home in Portsmouth with her six children. On 30th May 1941 she received the letter shown below from the Commodore of HM Dockyard Portsmouth with the news that she was already expecting. Some time later Lily received the official notification from Buckingham Palace.
Shown below are the four medals he received. Top left is the Atlantic Star, in the centre, without ribbon is his Long Service and Good Conduct medal. On the top right is the 1939-45 Star. The medal at the bottom is the War Medal 1939-45. These medals are now in possession of his son, Donald.
Donald Stevens still lives in Portsmouth. He married Ivy Lee on 18th August 1951 at St Marys Church, Fratton Road, Portsmouth. He has two children, Derek and Barry.
In 1946 Donald did an Engine Fitter Apprenticeship in HM Dockyard, Portsmouth before becoming an Admiralty Design Draughtsman. After six years with the Admiralty in Bath, four in Portsmouth he joined the GPO as a Telecommunications Traffic Superintendent. He spent the next 36 years with the GPO and retired in 1984 as a Operators Services Manager in Portsmouth Telephone area.
Derek Stevens, the author of this Biography, is married to Jackie and has three children, Stuart (20), Anita (18) and Mark (11) (at the time of this writing). He lives and works in Southampton. He is currently a Superintendent with Hampshire Constabulary, and based at Netley, where he is the Force Training Officer. He has been with the force for 26 years. He has a keen interest in history and has done a great deal of research into the loss of the H.M.S. Hood.