Three old friends having lunch in November 2017, two of whom will have turned 100 in 2018 (l-r): Lloyd Friedman, Lou Billinkoff, Dr. Albert Rosenberg (also 100)

Often the quietest individuals are the bravest. Lloyd Friedman recently celebrated his 100th birthday (on July 29). That, in itself, is a momentous achievement –and well worth noting.

As a matter of fact, in our May 23rd issue this year, we made mention of the fact that three members of the Adas Yeshurun Herzlia congregation were about to mark their 100th birthdays this year. The others, in addition to Lloyd, were Dr. Albert Rosenberg and Marion Solomon.

We’ve often run stories about individuals who have reached their 100th year, so when I was contacted by Andrew Friedman, Lloyd’s son, who asked me whether we would consider running something about his father’s milestone achievement, I said “sure”.

But then, Andy (as Andrew told me he preferred to be called) added something that was totally unexpected when he said that his father had been a World War II bomber pilot for the RCAF – flying Lancaster bombers, and had flown an incredible 40 missions over Germany and France on two separate tours of duty.

Now, to understand how amazing that was, you have to realize that the attrition rate among crew members on those bombers approached 90% over an entire tour of duty (which would have consisted of 20 missions if one were lucky enough to make it through an entire tour).

I searched the index of a book which was recently published about Jewish Canadians who served in WWII, titled “Double Threat”, by former CBC journalist Ellin Bessner. The index lists all servicemen - and women, mentioned in the book. I couldn’t find any reference to Lloyd Friedman in it (and, as a result, I’ve asked Ellin to consider adding to her book if she ever publishes a revised version).

I have my own personal acquaintance with Lloyd though. Until quite recently I would often see him walking his little white dog at the same time that I was walking my own little black dog. He was always very quiet and we never exchanged words, but we would acknowledge each other. To think - this thin, quiet man who seemed to be devoted to his little dog was actually a war hero. Can you imagine the courage it would have taken to climb into one of those planes? Following is some information I found online about what it was like to fly in a Lancaster bomber:
“The Lancaster Bomber carried out daring missions during World War Two. It had a crew of seven from the pilot to the gunners. Everyone had to play their part to stay alive.
“The Lancaster was one of the most dangerous places to be in the entire war – the life expectancy of a new recruit was just two weeks…Flying in a British bomber during World War Two was one of the most dangerous jobs of all. Some 55,000 aircrew died in raids over Europe.”
So, when I went over to Lloyd’s house, at Andy’s invitation (and he lives on the next block over from us), I was hoping to be able to ask him some questions about his war service. Unfortunately, and not at all surprisingly, Lloyd spends a great deal of time sleeping (which he was doing when I arrived), and is fairly disoriented when it comes to being with strangers.

Still, I was able to talk with Andy – who gave me a fairly good rundown of his dad’s life and career. (Later, Andy’s sister Fran also came into the house and joined in the conversation.)
I was told that Lloyd was born in Southey, Saskatchewan. Prior to the war, he had been a school teacher in Saskatchewan. Lloyd joined the RCAF even before World War II broke out. Trained as a pilot himself, for the first years of the war he trained other pilots at Brandon.

In 1943 Lloyd went overseas to England, where he began serving on Lancasters. Andy said that the main base where he served was in York. There were seven men assigned to a Lancaster flight crew. Amazingly all seven of Lloyd’s crew (all Canadians) survived the war, Andy noted. They would often get together for reunions, but now there is no one else left from that crew.
Following the war, Lloyd returned to Saskatchewan, where he obtained his B.A. He then went to Trail and Nelson in BC to teach for a number of years. In the mid 1950s he returned to Saskatchewan, where his parents had a hotel in Regina.

Lloyd moved to Winnipeg in the late 1950s to live with his sister, Sylvia, who was married to lawyer Harvey Pollock. Soon thereafter, Lloyd embarked upon a long career as an English and History teacher at St. John’s High School. He also married the former Lola Kravetsky in 1963, when he was 45, but tragically Lola died only 15 years later, and Lloyd never remarried.

While he devoted himself to his teaching career, he was also an active member of the Adas Yeshurun Herzlia Synagogue, serving one term as president. As well, following his retirement from teaching, Lloyd became an ardent volunteer for the community, delivering meals for Meals on Wheels, driving people to the Simkin Centre for visits, and even taking people shopping. He continued volunteering until he was well into his 90s, Andy said, when he had to give up his driver’s license.

As well, following his teaching career at St. John’s, Lloyd began teaching special needs kids. In Andy’s words, “he always cared for others.”

Always active, Lloyd was an active member of the Reh-Fit Centre until last year. One of his favourite activities was getting together with two of his oldest friends, Dr. Albert Rosenberg and Lou Billinkoff.

On Wednesday, July 25, Lloyd was honoured at a special luncheon held in his honour at the Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish Learning Centre. To read an article about that luncheon, go to the  CBC website and enter  Lloyd Friedman in the  search bar.