Basil Chamberlin Qu’Appelle Norman was born on 6 August 1888 to Denham R. Norman, the Rector of Stafford, and his wife, Elizabeth, the second youngest of their five children. He attended Wynyard School in Watford as a boarder and in 1903 went to Marlborough College. He left the college in 1908 and in the 1911 census, aged 22 years, he was described as a theological student and living in the Chaplain’s House, St John’s Hospital, Lichfield where his father was Master. He had entered the University of Durham in the Epiphany Term 1911 as an unattached student, passing the first year Theology examination the same term and gained his Licentiate in Theology in Michaelmas 1911. In Epiphany 1912 he joined University College studying as an Arts student (in litteris antiquis), and in Michaelmas 1912 he satisfied the examiners in Parts I and II and was awarded his degree on 12 December 1912. He played rugby and tennis for his college.
The Durham University Journal reports in March 1916 that Norman initially joined the 2nd Public Schools Battalion as a private. However, by December 1915 he was with the North Staffordshire Regiment, 4th Battalion, confirmed as a Second Lieutenant after probation. He served in France and Belgium from 1916 and is reported to have been wounded in 1916 and 1917. In February 1918 the battalion joined the 105th Brigade, 35th London Division which served on the Western Front from January 1916 to the end of the war.
In September 1918 the commander of the Second Army, General Herbert Plumer, allocated a principal role in the line to the 35th Division, XIX Corps, during the Fifth Battle of Ypres. Maintaining the relentless offensive momentum, the attack in Flanders aimed initially at expelling the enemy from the Houthulst Forest and regaining the vital high ground of the Passchendaele and Ypres Ridges. To the right of Belgian forces, British Second Army occupied a 16-mile front running from just north of Ypres to the River Lys, west of Armentières in the south; Plumer allocated his two most northerly Corps, the II and XIX, for the principal roles in the assault, south of the Ypres-Zonnebeke road.
British infantry assembled in heavy rain on 27 September and attacked behind a fierce protective artillery barrage before light at 5.20 a.m. the following morning. Despite the difficult ground much rapid progress was made: 9th (Scottish) Division advanced past Westhoek and on to Anzac Ridge; the 29th Division pushed towards Gheluvelt and 14th Division overran ‘The Bluff’. Meanwhile the right of Second Army (X and XV Corps) offered flank protection (artillery support and aggressive patrols) before moving against Wijtschate and Messines. By evening a six mile advance had been made. Belgian attacks met with similar success.
Allied assaults continued on 29 September but torrential rainstorms slowed forward movement. Continuing poor weather and the arrival of German reserves brought the first phase of the Flanders operation to a close on 2 October. By then the Germans were much occupied with stemming the British tide further south, following the breaking of the St Quentin Canal defences of the Hindenburg Line by Fourth Army’s attack on 29 September.
Basil Chamberlin Qu’Appelle Norman died of wounds received in battle at Zandvoorde on 30 September 1918. He is buried in Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery, Belgium. There is a memorial to him and his brother, Aubrey, who was killed at sea in 1917, in the churchyard at Holy Trinity Church, Berkswich, Staffordshire, and his name is on the Wall of Remembrance in Vlamertinghe Cemetery. His sacrifice is also commemorated in the Durham University Roll of Service (1920).