Ian Willoughby Bazalgette Victoria Cross
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. His family then moved to England were he completed his education. 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 August 1944, he became a recipient of the Victoria Cross.
The Citation reads: “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.