"His complete dedication, in unbroken military service of over six decades, has inspired untold thousands of Canadian youth."
"His tireless and unselfish contributions to his community, his country and his fellow man, in war and in peace, have been of outstanding benefit to Canada and Canadians." Born in St.Catherines, Ontario in 1915, Air Commodore (Ret'd) Leonard Joseph Birchall of Kingston, Ontario was a graduate and former Commandant of the Royal Military College of Canada. He was the pilot of a Catalina flying boat in 1942 when he and his crew spotted the advance of the Japanese fleet steaming toward Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. Before being shot down and taken prisoner of war, they were able to alert the British of the approaching fleet.
For this action, then Prime Minister Winston Churchill named Birchall "The Savior of Ceylon". He was later awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for this action and the Order of the British Empire for Gallantry for his selfless conduct during a 40-month stay in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. Leonard Birchall was the longest serving officer in the history of the Royal Canadian Air Force, receiving a 5th Bar to his CD in 1996. He also served as Honourary Colonel of #413 Squadron.
Born: 6 July 1915, St. Catherines, ON
Died: 10 Sept 2004
Awards: CM, OBE, DFC, CD