Douglas was born in Newcastle upon Tyne on 18 January 1888, the elder of two sons of the Reverend William Curry and his wife Amy. Thus brother to C. Angus Curry. Douglas joined the Royal Navy in 1904. The 1911 census lists him as a Lieutenant, aged 23, in the Civil Parish of Southampton. The Oxford Chronicle of 26 September 1914 noted that Lieutenant D. Curry was serving aboard HMS Superb, a Dreadnought. Its Captain's account of its involvement in the Battle of Jutland describes how Lieut. Curry (Telegraphy) sketched a sunken battleship at dawn for the ship's report. In November 1918 HMS Superb headed a flotilla to occupy Constantinople after the Turkish Armistice. Douglas reached the rank of Lieutenant-Commander, also serving on HMS Revenge, a pre-Dreadnought battleship of the Royal Sovereign class which was decommissioned in 1915 and scrapped in 1919. He was probably demobbed in early 1919. He was awarded the three campaign medals, the Victory Medal, the 1914-15 Star and the British War Medal. See also references to him in the Wheatley in a World at War chapter.