Magic Lantern Media

The Saviour of Ceylon - The story of Leonard Birchall

  • Grade Level: Junior High (7-9)-Adult
  • Subjects: History
  • Produced By: Norflicks Productions Ltd.
  • Year: 2006
  • Country: Canada
  • Language: English
  • Running Time: 93
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All wars produce heroes but rarely in a global conflict do the actions of one man affect the direction and possibly even the result of the whole war. In Leonard Birchall's case that is precisely what happened. The young Canadian Squadron Leader from St. Catherines, Ontario, on patrol in the Indian Ocean in April, 1943, spotted a Japanese fleet on its way to attack the British base at Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. Birchall, knowing he would be shot down, radioed a description of the makeup of the task force back to base. He was plucked out of the ocean by the Japanese, and endured three and a half years of captivity serving as Senior Allied Officer in four Japanese prison camps. Leonard Birchall kept a detailed record of that experience in diaries which he buried - these were dug up after the war and formed the basis for a number of successful war crime trials. Winston Churchill, even before he knew Leonard Birchall's name, or that he had survived, called him "The Saviour of Ceylon."


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