Located at the head of Forty-one Mile Creek east of Seep Creek; 1.5 km south of Zebra Mountain; north of the Wildhay River trail. Berland Range, Willmore Park, Alberta Major headwater Athabasca River.
"You'll have to put her down Baz, we're badly on fire." Flight Engineer George Turner told his pilot what he must have known. The bomber was 1000' above the ground, the starboard wing was a mass of flames and both its engines had been knocked out, fires had broken out in the fuselage, and now one of the port engines had failed.
"Bail out Boys," ordered the pilot and four parachutes opened beneath the mortally wounded Lancaster. Now alone in the cockpit, the pilot fought desperately to control the aircraft. He could have jumped as well but that would have meant abandoning his two injured crew members who were still aboard.
Suspended by his parachute Chuck Godfrey, the wireless operator, watched as the blazing bomber approached the tiny French village of Senates. With all his flying skills the pilot managed to turn the bomber away from the houses and attempted to land. "I could see it all," said Godfrey. "He did get it down in a field... but it was well ablaze and with all the petrol on board it just exploded."
Ian Bazalgette was born in Calgary, Alberta. He was educated in Ontario and England and joined the Royal Air Force in 1941. By mid-1943 he had completed a tour of thirty operations and had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. He arranged with Group Captain Hamish Mahaddie to join the elite Pathfinder Group which marked targets for the main bomber force and was posted to 635 Squadron.
The target on August 4th, 1944 was a V-1 Rocket site a Trossy St. Maximin. It had been bombed on the two previous days and as Rear-gunner Douglas Cameron recalled, "A solid sea of flak filled the width of the bomb run, " knocking out the other Pathfinders leaving Bazalgette's as the only aircraft left to mark the target. Flak struck the starboard wing setting it on fire and knocking out both engines. Despite the damage and risk of explosion Bazalgette stuck with his course and successfully marked the target before spinning. Regaining control, he turned west toward the allied lines, until the fires became too intense and the port engine failed. At 1000', with no hope of regaining altitude on a single engine, the Lancaster ablaze, and two wounded crew on board, Bazalgette gave the order to bail out. He remained to try to land the aircraft to save his crewmembers.
Douglas Cameron remembered Ian Bazalgette as "an officer who was equally at home with his peers and other ranks; who earned the respect of all by his pursuance of carrying the offensive to the enemy; who won the affection and gratitude of his subordinates for his care and promotion of their welfare, not less than the approval of his fellow and senior officers. An intrepid bomber pilot who found solace in the company of classical music, and beauty in the form of the roses he grew."
Sqdn. Ldr. Bazalgette's Victoria Cross Citation concludes by noting, "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."
The "Ian Bazalgette Memorial Lancaster" is displayed at the Nanton Lancaster Society Air Museum in Nanton, Alberta, thirty-five minutes south of Calgary on Highway #2. Additional information regarding "Baz" may be found at www.lancastermuseum.ca.
Ian Bazalgette's biography, "Baz" by Dave Birrell may be purchased through the museum by contacting: www.lancastermuseum.ca