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Senantes and Nanton – Twinned Communities

2009 was the sixty-fifth anniversary of S/L Ian Bazalgette’s Victoria Cross Flight. As the Village of Senantes in France and the Town of Nanton in Canada remain determined to see that the courage and sacrifice of S/L Bazalgette VC is not forgotten, it was fitting that the special bond between the two communities be formally recognized.

During a ceremony held at the museum on August 15th, 2009, the Village of Senantes and the Town of Nanton were officially “Twinned.” Following approval by their respective civic governments, Mayor Christian Gavelle of Senantes and Mayor John Blake of Nanton signed a document that, “acknowledges that a firm bond exists between the two communities,” and refers to the hope that S/L Bazalgette VC, “will not be forgotten and that a special relationship between the citizens of the two communities will continue to develop into the future.”

2014 was the seventieth anniversary of the VC Flight. Nine representatives of the Town of Nanton and the museum attended a commemorative program in Senantes that also celebrated the fifth anniversary of the twinning of the two communities. Four members of the Bazalgette family were in attendance as well.

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Why Have The Two Communities Entered Into This Agreement?

On August 4, 1944 S/L Ian Willoughby Bazalgette, a Canadian Lancaster Bomber pilot,
died in a valiant attempt to save his two injured crewmembers.
The reasons for the twinning, from the points of view of each of the two communities, are as follows:

THE TOWN OF NANTON, ALBERTA, CANADA

  • S/L Ian Bazalgette VC was born just 85 kilometres north of Nanton (in Calgary).
  • He was awarded the Victoria Cross, the only Albertan to be so recognized during World War II.
  • The Lancaster on display at the Bomber Command Museum has been dedicated to S/L Bazalgette’s memory and carries the markings of the aircraft he flew.
  • Over the past twenty years, the museum has collected extensive research regarding S/L Bazalgette and is the publisher of his biography.
  • Canada’s Bomber Command Memorial has been built at the entrance to the museum. It lists the names of 10,673 Canadians, including S/L Bazalgette, who were killed serving with Bomber Command during World War II.

THE VILLAGE OF SENANTES, OISE, FRANCE

  • After flying directly over the village, S/L Bazalgette’s Lancaster landed and subsequently exploded just one kilometre north of Senantes.
  • Many of the citizens of Senantes reported that S/L Bazalgette took evasive action to avoid crashing into their village.
  • Four crewmembers parachuted from the aircraft. At great personal risk to themselves, the citizens of Senantes hid the airmen from the Nazis and enabled them to evade capture.
  • The citizens of Senantes removed the remains of the other airmen from the aircraft. S/L Bazalgette’s remains were hidden from the Nazi’s in a cave.
  • Following their liberation, the citizens of Senantes held a Memorial Service for the three airmen who died.
  • The citizens of Senantes requested that S/L Bazalgette’s remains be buried in their village churchyard. The family and air force officials agreed.
  • S/L Bazalgette’s gravesite has been diligently maintained by the citizens of Senantes and this courageous Canadian has been honoured with Memorial Services held on the date of his death, each year since 1944.
  • A monument has been constructed by the citizens of Senantes at the site of the landing and explosion. Regular Memorial Services are held there as well.
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