Bits and Pieces
Bomber Command Museum of Canada
By Jack Dueck, Editor
The Nanton Lancaster Society Air Museum has formally changed its name to the Bomber Command Museum of Canada.The museum was formed in 1986 and soon established a small collection that was based on the town’s Lancaster Bomber, FM159. This aircraft had enjoyed a fulfilling career with the Royal Canadian Air Force, travelling widely from bases on both coasts to play a valuable role during the Cold War.
Replaced by a more modern aircraft, FM159 escaped the scrap yard to become a town's landmark, watching the highway traffic pass by for 31 years. Finally, FM159 found itself dedicated to a Canadian war hero and the centrepiece of a museum telling the story of those who served in similar aircraft during the Second World War.
FM159 is dedicated to the memory of Ian Bazalgette, a Lancaster pilot who was awarded the commonwealth's highest award for valour and the only Albertan to be so recognized during WW II.
Ian was born in Calgary, educated in Britain, and joined the Royal Air Force. After completing a tour of operations, “Baz,” as he became known as, volunteered for additional service with the Pathfinder Group.
Ian’s Lancaster was hit by flak while approaching a V-1 rocket site. Both starboard engines were knocked out and fires started. As the master bomber and deputy master bomber were out of action, it was up to Baz to mark the target for the remainder of the force. This he did, and then the aircraft went into a violent dive. He regained control, but soon the fire spread and a third engine stopped running. He ordered four of his crew to parachute yet chose to remain on board in an attempt to save the others who were injured and couldn’t jump. Baz managed to land the aircraft, but it exploded and all aboard were killed. The surviving crew members evaded enemy soldiers and made their way to the allied forces. The story was told and the Victoria Cross awarded. The citation reads that “His courage and devotion to duty were beyond praise.”
But back to the museum – the Bazalgette Lancaster is no longer the museum’s only bomber. A Blenheim bomber is also on display, and the museum has acquired substantial airframe sections to begin a Halifax restoration, as the museum develops a broader focus on the entire effort that was Bomber Command.
Canada’s Bomber Command Memorial stands at the entrance to the museum. Dedicated in 2005, this memorial wall lists 10,659 names and includes all the Canadians who were killed serving with Bomber Command during World War II.
The Memorial Wall
The museum is of national significance as the only museum in Canada whose primary purpose is to honour those who served with Bomber Command.