Lancaster ND811

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.'

Accounts:

" You'ill 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' feet above the ground, the starboard wing was a mass of flames and both engines had been knocked out, fire 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 cock pit, 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 parachut, 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 is was well a blaze and with all the petrol on board it just exploded."

 

Sources:

www.lancastermuseum.ca

 

The local church yard at Senates (G.TAYLOR)
The field, a stele is placed adjacent. (G.TAYLOR)