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A FAMOUS UNCLE
by Jack M. Peaker
If Webster's Dictionary had included the word "macho" in 1934, it would
have described uncle Lloyd. Even his voice was sort of a growl. In those days
there was a family gathering each Saturday at
my Grandmother's home in Westboro. Instead of wearing his Air Force uniform,
his civilian clothes would include a Bowler hat that felt like granite when he tapped my brother Jim & myself on the head with it. His physique matched his voice, tall but stocky and seemed to fill the doorways.
Within ten years he would become Canada's only Air Chief
Marshal. He was married to my mother Cora's
beautiful sister Elva who would be featured in the fashionable women's
magazines of the day including Mayfair.
When he was commanding officer and an Air Commodore at
Trenton Air Force station, I spent
fun filled days and nights at the Bay of Quinte residence. The girls slept
in one tent and the boys, including cousin Don who was four months older than
myself, in another.
The girls, including Uncle Lloyd's daughters Doris, Joan and Anne, to their dismay would often find
things like frogs under their covers at bed time.
During the day when the commanding officer was away at the air station some
young airmen would try to impress the
girls by doing stunts in their Harvard's and touching the wings in the serene
waters of the bay.
whose name I cannot remember, along with keeping his uniforms immaculate, had
to contend with a lack of
tidiness, caused by over exuberant teenagers.
During my Uncle's rise to wartime fame he became Air Marshal Breadner. His responsibilities included
the formation of Canada's Air Training Scheme. He and my father were close.
During that period they would get together with the assistance of a 40-ounce bottle of Johnny Walker.
I would hear them discussing many plans including where
the next air training school should be situated. The one in Brandon, Manitoba was
hatched in our kitchen.
On these occasions his growling, commanding voice instigated immediate
action. If something was dropped on the floor "pick it up" made us kids snap to
I remember at a later date when talking to his airman chauffer in an Ottawa beverage room. "He liked all young
fellows and liked to drive fast. When driving him from his home at Kirks
Ferry in the Gatineau I asked, are you in a hurry sir". "Sure son, pour on the coal came the guttural voice from the back seat".
The war progressed and there were more RCAF personnel
overseas than in Canada. It was then that the Air Chief Marshall moved to London. It was not widely publicized that his secretary there was his oldest daughter Doris of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. His prestigious address was on Downing Street, close to number 10 and its occupant Winston Churchill.
Before departing for London he was made very proud when
his only son Donald joined the
RCAF and began the months of training. He later duplicated the flying skills that
his father had displayed in World War one when he was a flying ace of renown. He had by 1917 won himself a D.S.C. (Distinguished Service Cross).
Then tragedy struck.
During the last training exercise out of Greenwood, Nova Scotia LAC Don
Breadner, age 19 and his navigator were killed when their Mosquito Aircraft
crashed into a mountain top at Debert.
To make matters even worse there was no possibility of his
father being able to return to Ottawa
to attend his son's funeral. The pressure was at a peak with daily air raids
and bombings over Germany.
Air Marshall Billie Bishop, my Uncle's good friend, was commissioned to take
his place at the funeral of his son. I was in awe at the funeral, as Canada's
leading air ace with so many bombing missions to his credit
performed his duty. He was a smaller man than my Uncle but his powerful tribute to the deceased son and his illustrious Dad seemed to add to his stature. To add to my personal significance of that mournful day, I caught the train to Toronto
that evening to start my first real job.
Uncle Lloyd returned to Canada from London for the historic Quebec
Conference held on the Plains of Abraham in 1944. In attendance along with
him were his counterparts Admiral Nelles (navy), Field Marshall Stewart (army), Prime Minister Mackenzie King, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Sir
Winston Churchill and Lady Churchill. Wartime strategy was discussed under a veil of secrecy. However pictures appeared in all major
In the months and years ahead the Breadner daughters would
affirm the Air Force legacy inherited from their Dad.
Doris, after returning from England and secretarial duties for
her father, met and married Squadron Leader Jack Reid. He carried on his Air
Force career in the permanent service and was stationed most of the time near
Joan, the second of his delightful daughters married air
force officer John Magor, not only an airman, but son of the owner of a
manufacturer of wartime aircraft. His father owned Victory Aircraft. John
continued an interest in flying after leaving the service. He was also
intrigued and knowledgeable about UFOs (unidentified flying objects).
For ten years he published the Canadian U.F.O. Report out of Duncan, B.C.
His name is still known by devoted ufologists.
The post war years were not happy ones for my Uncle
Lloyd. Perhaps a return to civilian life
meant obscurity to him. Going from a life of action, highest authority and
responsibility, to the quiet life of
Ottawa took its toll and weighed heavily on him. Too much spare time caused him to seek solace
in a drinking glass. His health deteriorated. My
father, Morley Peaker, who was 2 months older than him, and had himself experienced a grueling wartime experience in
France from 1914 to 1918, did his best
to make him feel that his life was not at an end. But indeed that was close
to being the case. Life was not pleasant for my Aunt Elva either.
He probably could have returned to an interesting civilian occupation by joining
the firm founded by his father, Breadner Manufacturing, a maker of jewelry items and
trophies. It was operated by his brother Jack.
His ailment was later diagnosed as Malignant Hypertension. It was
treated by Christian Science practitioners. They were members of a church
in Ottawa where regular medical treatment was frowned upon. My Aunt drove him
to Boston where the Christian Science religion was founded by
Mary Baker Eddy. It was there that Uncle Lloyd Breadner passed away.
My parents made arrangements for his body to be
returned to Ottawa and a full military funeral ensued in March of 1952. Memories of a stately guard of honour followed by the gun carriage going to the cemetery are lasting ones for those who were in attendance on that chilly, blustery day.
My Aunt Elva lived on for another eight years, passing away on March 17, 1960.
It was the end of the era for a sometime Famous Uncle ----
In 1945, he retired from the Air Force and soon after was asked by the Minister of
National Defense to form the RCAF Association. In 1949, a provisional executive
meeting was held and he became provisional president. At the first convention of
the Association in 1950, he was made grand president.
Among the many awards he received were the Distinguished Service Cross,
won when he was flying with the No.8 Squadron of the Royal Naval Air Service at the
Somme; the General Service Medal and Victoria Medal, 1918; the King George V Jubilee
Medal, 1935; King George V1 Coronation Medal and the Companion of the order of the Bath.
Written by Jack M. Peaker, a member of the Evergreen Writer's Club in Guelph,
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