Douglas was the son of Mr and Mrs George Purcell, of the Lion Hotel, Caerhowel, Montgomery and his sister still lives in Montgomery.
In October 1943, while Douglas was serving in the RAF, his sister Phyllis, then aged 16, was working at the railway station mail office at Caerhowel receiving and sorting letters and parcels. Telegrams were also delivered by rail at that time, and on the 28th of August 1943 she was handed the telegram, addressed to her father, that would inform the family that her brother had been 'posted missing' during the previous night's operations.
Sergeant Purcell had been killed when the Halifax aircraft (see picture of a Halifax of the period) for which he was the Flight Engineer, was shot down on a night bombing raid over Nuremberg on the night of the 27th—28th of August 1943. He was 22 years old.
However, it would be a further 40 days, on 7th October 1943, before the family was to receive the news, in a telegram , confirming the fact that Douglas had been killed in action. In fact, only one crew member of the seven had survived that night.
With great sensitivity and compassion, the crew members were buried by local German people in a nearby cemetery and they remained there until 1955, when their bodies were removed and reinterred in the Commonwealth and War Graves Commission Durnbach War Cemetery outside Nuremberg, together with 2,933 other servicemen who had lost their lives in Germany and Austria.