Sqdn. Ldr. Ian Willoughby Bazalgette

Sqdn. Ldr. Ian Willoughby Bazalgette

Trossy St. Maximin, France – August 4, 1944
Royal Air Force


On 4th August 1944, Squadron-Leader Bazalgette was master bomber of a Pathfinder squadron detailed to mark an important target at Trossy St. Maximin for the main bomber force.

When nearing the target his Lancaster came under heavy anti-aircraft fire. Both starboard engines were put out of action and serious fires broke out in the fuselage and the starboard main-plane. The bomb aimer was badly wounded.

As the deputy master bomber had already been shot down, the success of the attack depended on Squadron-Leader Bazalgette and this he knew. Despite the appalling conditions in his burning aircraft, he pressed on gallantly to the target, marking and bombing it accurately. That the attack was successful was due to his magnificent effort.

After the bombs had been dropped the Lancaster dived, practically out of control. By expert airmanship and great exertion Squadron-Leader Bazalgette regained control. But the port inner engine then failed and the whole of the starboard main-plane became a mass of flames.

Squadron-Leader Bazalgette fought bravely to bring his aircraft and crew to safety. The mid-upper gunner was overcome by fumes. Squadron-Leader Bazalgette then ordered those of his crew who were able to leave by parachute to do so. He remained at the controls and attempted the almost hopeless task of landing the crippled and blazing aircraft in a last effort to save the wounded bomb aimer and helpless air gunner. With superb skill, and taking great care to avoid a small French village nearby, he brought the aircraft down safely. Unfortunately it then exploded and this gallant officer and his two comrades perished.

His heroic sacrifice marked the climax of a long career of operations against the enemy. He always chose the more dangerous and exacting roles. His courage and devotion to duty were beyond praise.

Ian Willoughby Bazalgette was born in Calgary, Alberta, on the 19th of October 1918, son of an army pensioner. His family moved to Toronto, Ontario, in 1923 where received his early education at Balmy Beach School. Then his family moved to England and his education was completed at Rokeby, the Downs, Wimbledon and by private tutor. In September 1940 he received a commission in the Royal Artillery and the following year he transferred to the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. In the autumn of 1942 he was posted to No. 115 Squadron, R.A.F., for flying duties. In September 1943 he went to an operational training unit as an instructor and in April 1944 he was posted to No. 635 (Pathfinder) Squadron as a flight commander with the rank of Squadron Leader. He won a Distinguished Flying Cross in Italy in July 1944. In 1949 a mountain in Jasper National Park was named after him. Squadron-Leader Bazalgette is buried in the military plot in Senantes Churchyard, Oise, France about twelve miles west-north-west of Beauvais. His medal is on display at the R.A.F. Hendon Museum in England.

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