Breadner_HappyOne of the greatest satisfactions for the Comox Air Force Museum is to offer an artifact that is relevant to your mission, and you know without a doubt that its display will enhance the story relating to that period in history. (This year is the One Hundredth Anniversary of WWI and the Comox Air Force Museum is currently enhancing the WWI section of the Museum. The Breadner Helmet will be featured as part of the WWI exhibit.)

Don Magor of Campbell River recently inquired if our museum would be interested in the donation of a WW1 German Pilot’s helmet, a battle field souvenir of his Grandfather, Lloyd S. Breadner, who happened to be Chief of the Air Staff R.C.A.F. Overseas1944-45.

Don noted that there was a barely legible inscription in the helmet. “Hun brought down near (Mnt…?) April 23’17 “. This was more information than would usually accompany many of the donations we receive, but as is our nature we wanted more.

L.S. Breadner was a pilot serving with Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) No. 3 Squadron at Marieux (Montplaisir), France when he Front Gunner Positionwas in action that day.

First person accounts of his actions in aerial combat 17 April, 1917 are related in Jon Guttman’s Naval Aces World War 1 and, Canadian Airmen and the First World War by S.F. Wise.

By his own account he heard the anti-aircraft guns, looked up and saw a Hun (a Gotha Bomber 610/16 from Kampstaffel 15 KG 111.)Gotha IV at 10,000 feet. He scrambled to 12,000 feet, intercepted the bomber and shot out its engines forcing it to crash land near Vron on the allied side of the lines.

Lloyd then landed close by and cut the Iron Cross symbol from the wing of the burning aircraft. This symbol adorned a wall in No.3 Squadron’s Mess later that day. This was the first aircraft of this type to be shot down by a fighter plane over the Western Front.

The crew of the Gotha were taken prisoner and Lloyd kept the helmet of the pilot (Offz. Stv. Alfred Heidner) as a souvenir. The other two crew members were Lt. Karl Josef Scheuren, Observer and Lt. Otto Wirth.

 

F/L L.S. Breadner received the Distinguished Service Cross and attained the rank of Major during the First World War. He continued to serve in the Canadian Air Force from its beginning until he was promoted to Air Chief Marshall on his retirement 25 November 1945.

-Mel Birnie