By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement
A number of streets in Oshawa are named for significant war battles or for Oshawa’s veterans, denoted with a poppy on the street sign. Chadburn Street is one such street. Lloyd Vernon Chadburn was one of Canada’s most decorated pilots of the Second World War. Chadburn, or “Chad” as he was known to his friends, was only 22 years old when he commanded his first squadron into battle, becoming the youngest flight leader in the history of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).
Born in Montreal in 1919, Chadburn moved with his parents to Oshawa as an infant, residing on Masson Street. His father, Thomas, was the owner of Chadburn Motor Company, located at King and Prince Streets in Oshawa. The family later resided in Aurora.
As a teenager, Chadburn worked as a clerk for the Bank of Toronto and as a salesman for the Red Rose Tea Company. After completing high school, he twice applied to the RCAF but was turned down both times. By the time the Second World War broke out in 1939, Chadburn was employed by General Motors, driving cars off the assembly line.
In 1940, Chadburn was finally accepted into the RCAF, only a few months before his 21st birthday. After basic flight training in Toronto and Windsor, he graduated as a pilot officer from the Number 2 Flight Training School in Ottawa.
Chadburn went overseas on October 2, 1940 to join Number 2 RCAF squadron in England. He made his first operational flight in March 1941, flying the Hawker Hurricane fighter. A year later he took command of Number 416 squadron in Scotland, becoming the first graduate of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan to command a flight squadron. Chadburn’s leadership won him the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and made his squadron the most successful RCAF fighter group. One of the squadron’s more daring escapades was providing cover for the Dieppe Raid in 1942, saving hundreds of Allied lives.
In the winter of 1942-43, Chadburn returned to Oshawa, where he received a civic reception and a tour of General Motors during war production. During this visit, Chadburn gave permission for the Oshawa Air Cadet Squadron to use his name which it still retains today, the only such squadron to be named after an individual.1
Upon returning to service in Europe, Chadburn commanded the 402 (Winnipeg), 416 (Oshawa), and 118 (RAF) squadrons, flying escort for American bombers. The bomber crews came to know Chadburn as “The Angel.” In 60 sorties escorting the bombers, only one of them was ever lost to enemy fire. To honour his achievements, Chadburn became the first of only four RCAF officers to be decorated with the Distinguished Service Order (DSO).
In early 1944, following another visit to Canada, this time to promote war bonds on CBC, Chadburn was appointed Wing Commander of Fighter Operations. At 24 years old, he was the youngest officer to hold that position. Working behind a desk made Chadburn restless, yearning to be back in the skies.
In June 1944, he was back in the cockpit of a Spitfire warplane, leading the first air assault on D-Day. The following week however, his fighting came to an end as he was tragically killed in a mid-air collision with another Spitfire. His body was laid to rest Ranville War Cemetery near Caen, France. He was posthumously awarded the French Croix de Guerre and made a Chevalier (Knight) of the Legion d’Honneur.
The name Chadburn was not only given to a street in Oshawa, but also given to a lake in Yukon. It is said that the pilots who served with Chadburn during the war wrote to his mother every Mother’s Day until her death in 1968.
We first see Chadburn Street in Oshawa City Directories in 1950 – there is a simple notation saying 12 new houses, indicating that it is newly named and constructed upon. It is located amongst streets named for World War I battle sites, such as Verdun Road and Vimy Avenue.
- “Chadburn Squadron History” 151 Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron website, https://www.chadburn.org/squadron-history/chadburn-squadron; accessed 11/02/20.
Canadian Virtual War Memorial, Veterans Affairs Canada, https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/canadian-virtual-war-memorial/detail/2847750, accessed 11/02/20.
Historical Oshawa Information Sheet, Oshawa Historical Society.
Oshawa Times, Saturday October 10, 1992.
Oshawa Times, March 27, 1987.
“Flying Ace was ‘Real Regular’ Oshawa Boy,” East6; “Aurora Remembers Ideal Fighter Pilot,”Peason Bowerman, North32; Toronto Star, February 28, 1984.
RCAF Memories Scrapbook, from the Local History Collection at the OPL, accessed on 11/02/20 from https://archive.org/details/fta082rcafmemoires/page/n43/mode/2up.