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jensenpark
09-15-2004, 08:12 PM
Canadian pilot hailed as 'Saviour of Ceylon'

Toronto -- The Canadian air force officer whom the British wartime leader Winston Churchill called "the saviour of Ceylon" has died at age 89.

Leonard Birchall, who as a young wing commander had warned the British that a huge Japanese fleet was on its way to attack Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, died on Friday in Kingston.

In April, 1942, Mr. Birchall was a squadron leader in command of a Catalina flying boat that had been ordered south to patrol the ocean to try and give advance warning of the Japanese fleet, which intelligence reports said was on its way. At the last moment, Mr. Birchall's crew sighted ships in the distance.

"As we got close enough to identify the lead ships we knew at once what we were into, but the closer we got, the more ships appeared and so it was necessary to keep going until we could count and identify them all," Mr. Birchall said years later. The radio operator managed to send a signal but "by the time we did this, there was little chance left."

The Catalina came under attack by 30 fighters and was shot down. The brief report, however, was sufficient to warn British forces in Ceylon. The Japanese launched a Pearl Harbor-style attack next day but were repelled.

Listed as missing for about a year, Mr. Birchall spent the rest of the war in prison camps in Japan.

In peacetime, he later rose to the rank of air commodore.

http://www.corsair-web.com/thistler/rtfoxint.jpg
Buzz Beurling flying his last sortie over Malta, Oct.24, 1942

-dying non-stop online as silverdart

jensenpark
09-15-2004, 08:12 PM
Canadian pilot hailed as 'Saviour of Ceylon'

Toronto -- The Canadian air force officer whom the British wartime leader Winston Churchill called "the saviour of Ceylon" has died at age 89.

Leonard Birchall, who as a young wing commander had warned the British that a huge Japanese fleet was on its way to attack Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, died on Friday in Kingston.

In April, 1942, Mr. Birchall was a squadron leader in command of a Catalina flying boat that had been ordered south to patrol the ocean to try and give advance warning of the Japanese fleet, which intelligence reports said was on its way. At the last moment, Mr. Birchall's crew sighted ships in the distance.

"As we got close enough to identify the lead ships we knew at once what we were into, but the closer we got, the more ships appeared and so it was necessary to keep going until we could count and identify them all," Mr. Birchall said years later. The radio operator managed to send a signal but "by the time we did this, there was little chance left."

The Catalina came under attack by 30 fighters and was shot down. The brief report, however, was sufficient to warn British forces in Ceylon. The Japanese launched a Pearl Harbor-style attack next day but were repelled.

Listed as missing for about a year, Mr. Birchall spent the rest of the war in prison camps in Japan.

In peacetime, he later rose to the rank of air commodore.

http://www.corsair-web.com/thistler/rtfoxint.jpg
Buzz Beurling flying his last sortie over Malta, Oct.24, 1942

-dying non-stop online as silverdart

Bearcat99
09-16-2004, 06:13 AM
~S~ http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/images/smiley/16x16_smiley-indifferent.gif

Soon they will all be gone.

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Udidtoo
09-16-2004, 06:27 AM
So many lately so close together. http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/images/smiley/16x16_smiley-sad.gif

S'

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TgD Thunderbolt56
09-16-2004, 06:36 AM
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Heavy_Weather
09-16-2004, 07:35 AM
S! http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/images/smiley/16x16_smiley-sad.gif

"To fly a combat mission is not a trip under the moon. Every attack, every bombing is a dance with death."
- Serafima Amsova-Taranenko: Noggle, Ann (1994): A Dance with Death.

Freycinet
09-16-2004, 07:52 AM
incredible how important the catalina also was: sighting the bismarck, the japanese fleet at sri-lanka, at midway too...

jensenpark
09-16-2004, 11:41 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Bearcat99:
~S~ http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/images/smiley/16x16_smiley-indifferent.gif

Soon they will all be gone.

http://www.tuskegeeairmen.org_vflyer@comcast.net_ http://www.geocities.com/rt_bearcat
http://forums.ubi.com/eve/forums?a=tpc&s=400102&f=23110283&m=51910959
_IMMERSION BABY!!_<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Very true Bearcat...very true.

In another paper today, they had an obit on him. Churchill was quoted as commenting without Ceylon, they would have lost the North Africa battle...
Amazing how the bravery of one man - or in this case, one man leading six others - can affect so much.

http://www.corsair-web.com/thistler/rtfoxint.jpg
Buzz Beurling flying his last sortie over Malta, Oct.24, 1942

-dying non-stop online as silverdart