Ian Bazalgette was one of the 16 Canadian soldiers to receive a Victoria Cross in the Second World War. Squadron Leader Bazalgette was awarded the VC for his gallantry, sadly he would never see it.
Ian Willoughby Bazalgette was born in the fall of 1918 in Calgary, AB. The son of Charles and Marion, Bazalgette and his family moved around during his youth. The first move left him in Toronto where he attained his early education before moving to England where he finished his schooling.
In the fall of 1940 the 22-year-old Calgarian joined the RAF, within three years he had done “30 operations with No. 115 Squadron” (Credit: Bomber Command Museum). Bazalgette was then posted to an operational training unit as an instructor, as a Squadron Leader he flew a crew on a Lancaster bomber.
August 4, 1944, Bazalgette and his Lancaster crew were on an operation to mark a target over occupied France. A dangerous mission, the young pilot and his brothers-in-arms pressed on. However, it took a turn for the worse, a vital member of his flight crew was severely wounded when the Lancaster was hit with an anti-aircraft weapon. Bazalgette took on the role and successfully bombed the target.
The aircraft was severely damaged and Bazalgette ordered the soldiers who were uninjured to evacuate the plane. The group did so, Bazalgette turned his attention to landing the plane as safely as he could. Passing over a French village, he landed the plane.
Sadly, after getting the plane on the ground it exploded. The crash killed Bazalgette, his injured bombardier and an air gunner who’d been overcome by the noxious fumes from the hit to the plane. Bazalgette’s bravery was recognized with a Victoria Cross given to him posthumously.
To learn more about Ian Bazalgette,
Visit this webpage at the Bomber Command Museum.
Read Bazalgette’s Victoria Cross citation at the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.
Photo (main): Ian Bazalgette in a clip from his Squadron photo (Credit: IWM/CH 15911 from VintageWings.ca).
Photo (inset): Lancaster Bomber (Credit: bugdog).
Animated Map: Western Allies' WW2 Air Missions
View the sobering animated map (below) that shows the intensifying air missions (aerial bombing by the Allies) throughout the Second World War.
A few things to note:
- the slow start and the flurry of activity in '44 and '45
- that Great Britain (RAF) was basically fighting the aerial war on its own during the war's first few years
- the bombing of Sicily pre-Operation Husky ('43)
- the following progression north over the Italian peninsula
- the ever-tightening enclosure around central Germany
Animated Map Credit: FashionableNonsense (Reddit), likely an adaptation of this Imperial War Museum creation.