Squadron-Leader Leonard Birchall, OBE, DFC, Royal Canadian Air Force

A native of St. Catharines, Ontario, Squadron-Leader Leonard Birchall was the commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s No. 413 Squadron. Flying Canso flying boats, the squadron had just been posted to the island of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in the Indian Ocean when a Japanese fleet sailed to attack the island and launch an invasion. On April 4, 1942 Birchall’s aircraft spotted the invasion fleet and was able to get a radio message out to the British authorities before the Canadian airplane was shot down. Birchall and some of his crew were captured and made prisoners of war. His warning message alerted the British defences who thwarted the Japanese invasion attempt, earning Birchall the nickname "Saviour of Ceylon" and the Distinguished Flying Cross for his action.
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