Personal Memories of Lloyd Vernon Chadburn
To many cadets, the Second World War is just a collection of words that may sometime be the subject of a history course or perhaps it is the memory of a cold November Remembrance Day Service. To other’s it a personal collection of memories of one of the greatest tragedies in world history. Today there are close to 4000 air cadets who have worn a blue uniform which carried the name of Chadburn on its sleeve. Our Squadron’s name is symbolic of one of those individuals in blue who played an important role in this epic struggle for our collective freedom.
Today the number of individuals who remember Chadburn’s personality, his character and his actions, are slowly disappearing into history. There are however some who do remember Chadburn and his youthful personality. One of these individuals is Dick Hunter a retired business executive who now lives in Aurora. As a youth Chadburn boarded at his parents’ home in Toronto while he attended a business school in the city. Mr Hunter is known to only a few in our Squadron but he has been a quiet supporter of 151 Squadron over the years. The comments that follow are those of Mr. Hunter.
Memories of a Young Boy Growing Up with Lloyd Chadburn.
Lloyd became my ‘Hero’ at an early age…six years old as a matter of fact his mom and my mom were real good friends, starting when we lived in Oshawa. After Lloyd got out of Church Street Public School, he had to go to high school, but there was really nothing suitable for Lloyd. Lloyd wanted, and needed something more practical like training in accounting or in mechanics. So Florence Chadburn and my mother Nora Hunter made a deal. Lloyd boards with us in Toronto while he goes to Northern Vocational School on Mount Pleasant Road, not too far from where we lived. It was a great deal for the Hunter family, because I adored this cool looking teenager who drove a Ford convertible [Lloyd’s departed dad had a Ford dealership in Oshawa]… and also the Hunter family could use the board money income because things were very tough in the thirties during the Depression. When Lloyd arrived, this six year old was in heaven. Lloyd took me out driving around north Toronto in the open convertible, with his long blonde hair held back by a yellow tie. Life was good at six! When he was home in Aurora during the summer, Lloyd had a reputation as an easy going teenager, a practical joker. He loved hockey and skiing. He was a true Canadian boy. He graduated too soon, well fed by Mother Hunter, then on to a short-lived bank job, then shuttling cars from GMC in Oshawa to Toronto dealers.
Then before I knew it, War broke and Lloyd had graduated from Uplands. At nine years of age I started a labour of love… a scrapbook that recorded all of Lloyd’s exploits overseas. It started with the Uplands graduation and ended with the Memorial Service at Trinity Anglican Church in Aurora in late June 1944. I attended with my Mom and Dad… a heart broken thirteen year old. My scrapbook was added to after his death when I clipped a Toronto Star article and picture of Florence Chadburn receiving the Legion of Honour for Lloyd.
My life has been affected by him significantly. My leadership and management style evolved to be very easy going and approachable but highly disciplined, just like Lloyd’s. He, however, was a born leader. His example took me to be a president and chairman of companies.
The loss of this outstanding individual brought forth a host of emotional thoughts and feelings and it led to Major Robert Forbes, a former commanding officer of 151 Squadron, writing a book about Chadburn’s life and his service in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He titled the book “Gone is the Angel”. The title of the book was based on a comment by one of the American Ninth Air Force commanders who lamented Chadburn’s loss with the comment “Gone is the Angel”. This referred to the fact that when Chadburn’s aircraft escorted their bombers on raids over Europe they would be assured of a safe return.
There are numerous references and stories in this book that provide an insight into Chadburn’s remarkable qualities and personality. One of comments recorded in the book came from W/C Hugh Godefroy. He remarked while on leave in Canada that “Chad shouldn’t have died. He was a wonderful fellow, respected and admired by every man who ever met him. I never knew anyone with such a faculty for leadership.” Another comment came from Group Captain J. A. McNab head Protestant Chaplain who gave the eulogy at a remembrance service at Trinity Anglican Church in Aurora on June 25, 1944. He remembered the laughing young blonde man with the comment “He was a resourceful and inspiring leader of men, whose personality brought courage to his comrades in the air.”
In Chadburn Squadron, only a few cadets and staff ever had the opportunity to meet our Squadron’s remarkable namesake. However the memory of his accomplishments lives on with the Squadron that bears his name. 151 Chadburn Squadron has now become a leader and one of the most successful and well known cadet units within the Canadian Air Cadet program. A fitting tribute to a pilot they nick named the “Angel”.