Sketch by Jack Chalker

Post War

Saviour of Ceylon

Post War


Information from Wikiwand

After a lengthy period of recovery, Birchall returned to active duty. Through the late 1940s and 1950s, he held a number of senior staff positions in the RCAF, and he was involved in the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and North American Air Defence Command (NORAD).

In 1950, U.S. President Harry Truman appointed Birchall an officer of the Legion of Merit, saying: "His exploits became legendary throughout Japan and brought renewed faith and strength to many hundreds of ill and disheartened prisoners."

Distinguished Flying Cross

He was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions in Ceylon, and made an officer of the Order of the British Empire for his actions in the POW camps.

Leonard Birchall retired from the RCAF in 1967, and then worked at York University, Ontario, until 1982. He passed away at the age of 89 in 2004.

Promoted to air commodore, he was appointed commandant of the Royal Military College (RMC) in Kingston, Ontario, in 1963. For the next four years, he inspired a generation of future officers in the Canadian military. In 1967, not supportive of the federal government’s decision to unify the various arms of the Canadian Forces, he resigned from the RCAF. For the next 15 years, he worked as the chief executive and administrative officer of the Faculty of Administrative Studies at York University, Toronto.

In 2000, Birchall received the Order of Canada. In 2001, he was inducted into Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame. He was honorary colonel at the Royal Military College of Canada. Birchall was the only member of the Canadian military to have earned five clasps for his Canadian Forces Decoration, representing 62 years of service with the air force. The only other person with five clasps was Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

As a recipient of the 2001 Vimy Award, Birchall was recognised as a Canadian who made a significant and outstanding contribution to the defence and security of Canada and the preservation of Canada's democratic values. He was also honoured for his years of service to the community, including building a facility in 1993 at a Kingston Girl Guide camp at his own cost.


The Leonard Birchall Sports pavilion

The Leonard Birchall Sports pavilion at the Royal Military College of Canada, in the area of the Navy Bay sports fields, was constructed in his honour, from December 2008 to September 2009. The road leading to the terminal and hangars at Kingston's Norman Rogers Airport is named Len Birchall Way.

His widow Kathleen Birchall donated money to the Air Cadet League of Canada to set up a scholarship in his name. On 9 November 2011, 883 Air Commodore Leonard Birchall Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets based in Markham, Ontario was formed.

In 2011, Air Commodore Birchall's name was also added to the wall of honour at the Royal Military College of Canada.

Birchall was dubbed the "Saviour of Ceylon" by the Canadian press.


Leonard Joseph Birchall passed away at the age of 89 in 2004.



Appendix - The Crew


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[Saviour of Ceylon] [Combat Duty] [Existence as a PoW] [Post War] [Appendix]



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