Ian Bazalgette, V.C.
Ian Bazalgette was one of the 16 Canadian recipients of the Victoria Cross (VC) during the Second World War. Squadron Leader Bazalgette was posthumously awarded a VC for his gallantry.
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. He lived in Toronto, where he received his early education before moving to England where he finished his schooling.
In the fall of 1940, the 22-year-old Calgarian joined the Royal Air Force. 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.
On 4 August 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. Then it took a turn for the worse as a vital member of his flight crew was severely wounded when the Lancaster was hit with an anti-aircraft weapon. As Squadron Leader, Bazalgette took control and successfully bombed the target.
The aircraft was severely damaged and so Bazalgette ordered the uninjured crew members to evacuate the plane. Once those airmen were off-board Bazalgette turned his attention to landing the plane as safely as possible given the high-pressure situation. Ahead of him he noticed a French village that would have to be avoided on the way down.
Sadly, the plane exploded after landing outside the village. The crash killed three men: Bazalgette, his injured bombardier, and an air gunner who had been overcome by the noxious fumes from the hit to the plane. Bazalgette’s bravery was recognized with a Victoria Cross awarded to him posthumously.
: Ian Bazalgette in a clip from his Squadron photo (Credit: IWM/CH 15911 from VintageWings.ca).
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