Private Lloyd Mackenzie
Lloyd Colin Mackenzie was an only child, born on November 5, 1914 in Lethbridge, Alberta. His father, John Lloyd MacKenzie left for WWI shortly thereafter. His father remained in England until his passing in 1970. Lloyd’s mother Pearl sent Lloyd to live with his Paternal Grandparents, Colin and Annie, in Pictou County, Nova Scotia. Upon Annies’ passing in 1926, Lloyd was sent to live with his mother in Drumheller, Alberta who had since remarried to Colin McDougall. At the age of 14, Lloyd started working in the coal mines in Drumheller. During the late 1930s, Lloyd and a friend went to work on the John Wight Ranch east of Ponoka, Alberta. Here he met a girl named Constance Wight and fell in love.
As World War 2 was in full momentum and actively recruiting, on May 20, 1941 at the age of 27, Lloyd volunteered for the 9th Armoured Regiment (BCD). He was a fine soldier who was mature, keen, fit and looking for a greater challenge, which he found when he volunteered to join the 1stCanadian Parachute Battalion. Lloyd successfully passed all the screening and fitness tests and was sent to the Parachute School at Ringway, England. He graduated on December 14, 1943 and was now a very proud paratrooper. Lloyd remained in England where he would train for the next 6 months in preparation for D-Day. He was part of B Coy, 4 Platoon when he parachuted into Normandy on June 6, 1944 and was engaged in a fierce battle with the enemy. He received a gunshot wound to his left shoulder and shrapnel wound to his right leg. Lloyd was taken prisoner by the German’s where he would remain until the end of the war.
In mid-1945, Lloyd was finally a free man and eager to come back to Canada to resume his civilian life. Upon returning home, because he had been presumed missing, Constance had taken up with another man. In a fateful twist, Lloyd took up with Connie’s younger sister, Margaret, and they married a short time later. They resided in Drumheller, Alberta, giving birth to a little boy Dennis Colin in 1947. They moved to Ponoka in 1948 or 49, where they had two daughters, Dawn in 1949 and Heather in 1951. By this time, the Korean War was happening and Lloyd had the urge to serve his country yet again. At the age of 37, he enlisted with the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry and served overseas. He was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. By the end of the Korean war, Lloyd had served his country honourably once again and returned to Canada to resume being a family man. The two wars had taken a toll on Lloyd and he was a changed person who struggled to adjust back into civilian life. He began consuming alcohol excessively to numb the pain of inner turmoil he carried. Then on May 25, 1966, during a dark moment, Lloyd Colin MacKenzie took his own life, leaving behind his wife Margaret and their three children.
Lloyd was an incredible Canadian who volunteered to serve his country nobly during two major conflicts, however, he lost his own battle with depression. A war veteran such as Lloyd should not suffer such a tragic ending, passing his pain on to his family. My hope is that Lloyd’s story will continue to help raise awareness about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). People suffering from PTSD are not alone and should not suffer silently. If you know a family member, friend or co-worker struggling with PTSD, there are resources to help them through their challenges. You can make the difference, get to know the signs of PTSD and help save a life.
Artifacts and information courtesy of Jeremy Mackenzie
Learn more about PTSD here: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder