Basil was born in Ealing, London in 1925 to a London solicitor Leslie Nash and wife Gladys joining two sisters, Joan and Doreen. He went to Harrow school as a boy then in 1941 to the Naval training ship Conway, a 92 gun wooden battleship built in 1839 similar to the Victory preserved at Portsmouth.
This gave him the grit, determination and self worth to carry him through life. His training postings took him from Liverpool and Bangor to London where he was regularly bombed, and after a gunnery course in Chatham he was selected for flying training in Canada
His record of time in Canada would indicate he and his fellow flyers had a great time even venturing into the USA with no passports in a gas guzzling Hudson of the era, which they had bought for a song.
He returned to UK flight ready as the war in Europe ended. He was scheduled to join the British Pacific fleet to take part in the invasion of Japan, when the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
He was posted to Dale South Wales on return to the UK, where he is reputedly said to have spotted a WREN with her head stuck down in the guts of an aircraft displaying a very fine bottom! Basil’s chat up line was to ask whether the Naafi truck had been round with the tea yet! You guessed it that WREN was Sheila and they were married in 1948 in Gerrards Cross. The marriage was idyllic and he was sometimes described by his family as “Mr Right”, and Shiela as “Mrs Always Right”!
He was often asked to take up machines with problems and became the go-to test pilot. There are photos of gaps in hedges created when his aircraft of the moment had engine failure but his luck held and he never met a big tree head on.
On one occasion he was very proud that he and the other test pilot grounded all Seafires just before they were due to fly on to a new carrier in front of the Queen, as there was a carburettor fault which stopped the engine under certain circumstances. You can imagine the pressure from above to rescind the grounding but the test pilots stood their ground and boffins from Rolls Royce were sent to solve the problem. He was, of course, correct and rapid modification allowed the planes to fly without losing any young pilots to that fault.
Once de-mobbed in 1950 his return to civilian life was not easy, as every de-mobbed soldier and sailor was looking for work. After trying several different trades he took up the motor trade selling trucks in south London, ultimately to be the general manager of one of the largest Bedford truck dealerships in UK.
Basil and Sheila had often talked about Australia and in 1976 he chose redundancy when the dealer closed down the commercial division of the company he was working for. Basil invested his redundancy money in air tickets and set off to investigate prospects in Australia. Nigel, his younger son, was already there and able to help.
He never regretted that decision although the first few years were quite rough. Jobs came and jobs went but eventually life started to get easier They loved their house in Gordon and they welcomed everyone to come and stay. During their years at this house there were multiple extended family re-unions and BBQs, trips to and from the airport to pick up relatives, sightseeing trips in Sydney and the Blue Mountains and dazzling trips on the harbour tell a story of his life.
Basil retired from his comfortable job at Custom Credit when he was 62 years old but that was not the end of his working life. He then started a business with Peter of which he was immensely proud. It was called “Nash Plant Hire”… he continued to work well into his 70’s driving telescopic materials handling machines until finally it was decided it would be safer to let him drive the infamous, albeit tiny, Daihatsu handivan and run errands for the company. In his own words he became Peter’s “Gofer.”
He and Sheila left their beloved house in Gordon in 2010 and moved to Berowra where they had been happily situated ever since still managing to walk their dog every day.
He remained passionate about aircraft and flying and for his 90th birthday received a flight in a Tiger Moth Aircraft from Camden airport. True to form, Basil asked the boss if he could actually “ fly” the plane and to his delight his request was granted. So his family have memorable images of Dad flying this Tiger Moth around Camden in 2015.
Basil was a passionate member of the Fleet Air Arm Association of Australia and contributed a couple of articles on his career, which you can read at page 16 of our Slipstream magazine here. or a much fuller account, including many photographs, from page 18 here.
He was the beloved husband of Sheila, loved father of Peter, Nigel, Martin, Daphne, Ian, Paul and Jill and their partners, and an adored grandfather and great-grandfather.
We honour Basil, who was one of us. May he rest in peace.