Personal info

  • Name: Ian Willoughby BAZALGETTE
  • D.O.B: 19th October, 1918
  • D.O.A: 4th August, 1944
  • D.O.D: 4th August, 1944
  • Award: Victoria Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Acting Squadron Leader, No 635 Squadron, Royal Air Force, No 8 Group, Bomber Command, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Operation Crossbow

4 August 1944

More details about:
The Second World War 1944 

Attack on the V1 Storage Depot, Trossy-St Maximin, France. Germany deployed the V1 flying bomb against Britain in June 1944. Though launched from coastal sites, one of its largest storage facilities was in the limestone mushroom caves at Trossy-St Maximin, close to St Leu d’Esserent in the Oise Valley north of Chantilly. On 4 August 1944 this was attacked by 61 Lancaster bombers. The story of Acting Squadron Leader I W Bazalgette’s bravery during this raid only became known when the four survivors of the bomber’s seven-man crew, who were all hidden by the French resistance, returned to Britain after the war.

Citation

 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. 

Sixth Supplement to The London Gazette of 14 August 1945. 17 August 1945, Numb. 37228, p. 4185

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