Born in Catford, south London, he was one of four brothers who served in the Royal Navy during and after the Second World War. His father, Thomas, served in the Royal Marine Artillery which meant the family all ended up in Portsmouth at some time.
Like his three brothers, Basil was sent to the Royal Hospital School, Greenwich. Aged 15 he joined the Royal Navy at HMS St Vincent, Gosport.
He saw service in HMS Exeter from 1937-39. During two-and-a-half years on the South America Patrol, Basil was sent ashore to assist in Concepcion, Chile, after a major earthquake. In 2017, he was very belatedly presented with a medal by the Chile ambassador for his part in that work.
His service in HMS Exeter culminated in the ship’s involvement in the Battle of the River Plate in December, 1939.
During the battle he was a gun-layer in Y turret, the last gun to be fired by Exeter in the battle. Her forward A and B turrets were destroyed. He appeared in a BBC documentary about the battle and made a recording of his memories for the Imperial War Museum.
A member of the Battle of the River Plate Association, Basil has visited the town of Ajax in Ontario, Canada, on several occasions. The town made a decision to name the majority of its streets after the men who served in the three ships, Exeter, Achilles and Ajax involved in the battle. There is a road named after Basil in the town, Trott Lane. Basil later served in HMS Kenya and HMS Wallace during the Second World War.
His last seagoing posting was as a gunnery lieutenant in HMS Whitby for her first commission in 1953. He continued to serve until 1956 and for a time was the parade training officer at the Gunnery School at HMS Excellent, Whale Island. He married Violet in 1943 and they had one son, Peter, in May 1948.
In Portsmouth he took up a second career as a local government officer, initially at Gosport and then in Portsmouth where he remained until retirement.
In Southsea he lived at St Ronan’s Road and Mayflower Drive, Milton, until 1988 when aged 68 he and Violet moved to Spain. An active member of the Freemasons he helped found the Old Tower lodge.
Violet died in May 1989. Basil remained in Spain for a further 12 years, and met his present wife Sadie there, marrying her in November 1994. They now live in Cambridge.