Basil Hamley was born in Herne Hill in 1889, the third of five sons (and three daughters) of John and Annie Hamley, All five boys (John Dewitt, Harold, Basil, Wilfrid and Marcus) served in the First World War, although Marcus was under age at just 15. Basil was killed during the Final Advance in Artois on 4 October 1918, just a month before the Armistice. He is buried in Aubers Ridge British Cemetery, south of Lens.
Two of Basil’s nephews, David and Brian Hamley, still live in Herne Hill. A family story tells that Basil, a member of a machine gun group, went to rescue an officer who had been wounded and they were both killed. Another brother who was close by had to identity him. John Dewitt Hamley, the oldest brother (and father of David and Brian), suffered shell-shock but survived. They also recall that their uncle Harold was short of breath because he had been gassed.
In this eight-minute recording, made in September 2018, you hear the voices of first, Brian, and then David Hamley, speaking to Patrick Roberts and Colin Wight of the Herne Hill Society. You will also hear a neighbour who goes to the garden shed to find the entrenching tool!