Captain Basil Hallam Radford, No 1 Army Kite Ballon Section, Royal Flying Corps
Basil Hallam Radford was a talented comedy actor and singer who went by the stage name Basil Hallam. He was famous for creating the character of ‘Gilbert the Filbert' for a revue show called The Passing Show.
His death in action is described by Rudyard Kipling in The Irish Guards in the Great War, Vol 2 1916 - Salient and the Somme:
On a windy Sunday evening at Couin, in the valley north of Bus-les-Artois, the men saw an observation-balloon, tethered near their bivouacs, break loose while being hauled down. It drifted towards the enemy line. First they watched maps and books being heaved overboard, then a man in a parachute jumping for his life, who landed safely. Soon after, something black, which had been hanging below the basket, detached itself and fell some three thousand feet. We heard later that it was Captain Radford (Basil Hallam). His parachute apparently caught in the rigging and in some way he slipped out of the belt which attached him to it. He fell near Brigade Headquarters. Of those who watched, there was not one that had not seen him at the "Halls" in the immensely remote days of "Gilbert the Filbert, the Colonel of the Nuts."
Captain Hallam is buried at Couin British Cemetery.
20 August 1916
Photograph of Basil Hallam courtesy: © The National Portrait Gallery, London
Extract of obituary from the Times of 24 August 1916 courtesy: The Great War Forum
Video below courtesy: YouTube.
Research by David Tattersfield, WFA Development Trustee