7543 Joe Day to Receive 2013 Birchall Leadership Award

The Royal Military Colleges Club of Canada Foundation Inc. is pleased to announce that the 2013 recipient of the Air Commodore Leonard Birchall Award will be Senator Joseph A. Day.  The Award will be presented to Senator Day during the annual RMC Foundation Legacy Dinner to be held on the grounds of the Royal Military College of Canada on the evening of September 26, 2013.

The Birchall Leadership Award is presented by the Royal Military Colleges Club of Canada to honour the memory of 2364 Air Commodore Leonard J. Birchall CM, OBE, DFC, OO, CD [1915-2004], the “Saviour of Ceylon”.  This extraordinary leader, a distinguished RMC ex-cadet, RCAF career officer, former Commandant of RMC, Honourary Colonel of 413 Squadron and until his death on September 10, 2004, the Vice-Patron of the RMC Club, exemplified a unique leadership quality which this award celebrates, and that is the ability to stand up in the face of difficulty or adversity to promote the welfare and safety of those under his command.

The terms of reference for the Birchall Leadership Award provide that recipients will be individuals who have demonstrated the qualities of leadership (integrity, responsibility and moral courage) that Air Commodore Birchall demonstrated and taught during his career.

In addition to his years of service to Canada as a member of the Senate, in making this recommendation the nominating committee noted Senator Day’s long history of support for Canada’s sons and daughters in uniform, for those who have served and for their families.  Senator Day has been a champion for improving existing programs and for establishing new services and programs to aid Canadian Forces veterans, and in particular, for the individual common soldier.  These include creating comprehensive benefits programs, correcting unfair compensation practices and recognizing the wider effect of veteran’s disabilities on the well-being of their families.  Senator Day recognizes the importance of commemorative activities to keep alive the memory of Canadian veterans’ achievements and sacrifices and has been key in celebrating the contribution of the veterans of the Merchant Navy, the Korean War, WWII Bomber Command, the annual Air Force Day on Parliament Hill, and in celebrating the Year of the Veteran.

A background document on the Birchall Leadership Award and a brief biography on Senator Day, are attached.

For more information, please contact:

Rod McDonald, Executive Vice-President of the RMC Foundation

(613) 541 6000 ext 6697

Birchall Leadership Award 

Air Commodore Leonard Birchall

On April 4, 1942 then Squadron Leader Birchall was piloting a Catalina flying boat over the Indian Ocean when he sighted and reported an advancing Japanese fleet intent on attacking Ceylon.  The Allied Forces’ response to Birchall’s call successfully blunted the force of the attack.   However, Birchall’s Catalina and its crew of eight were shot down and he, along with 5 survivors, spent the remaining years as Japanese prisoners of war.  It was as a senior officer among the POW’s that Birchall’s true leadership skills came to the forefront as he confronted his captors, often risking his own life, in order to preserve the morale, dignity and safety of lower ranked prisoners of war.

Birchall graduated from RMC in 1937, was one of the longest serving RCAF career officers, and during his career served as Commandant of RMC.  He was well known to many of the RMC family.

In the post war period, Air Commodore Birchall mentored and shared his thoughts on leadership with many persons in and out of uniform.  He taught us the importance of:

  • Integrity (which gave the confidence and courage for others to follow);
  • Responsibility (to not blame others but to shoulder criticism when required); and
  • Moral Courage (to rely on one’s sense of right and wrong).

Birchall Leadership Award

The Birchall Leadership Award is presented by the Royal Military Colleges Club of Canada to honour the memory of 2364 Air Commodore Leonard J. Birchall CM, OBE, DFC, OO, CD [1915-2004], the “Saviour of Ceylon”.  This extraordinary leader, a distinguished RMC ex-cadet, RCAF career officer, former Commandant of RMC, Honourary Colonel of 413 Squadron and until his death on September 10, 2004, the Vice-Patron of the RMC Club, exemplified a unique leadership quality which this award celebrates, and that is the ability to stand up in the face of difficulty or adversity to promote the welfare and safety of those under his command.

The Birchall Leadership Award seeks to carry on this tradition of leadership by honouring its recipients in the name of one of Canada’s finest leaders.

The Calgary Branch of the RMC Club established the Award in 2005 to preserve the memory of A/C Birchall, to remind Canadians of his outstanding leadership qualities, and to use the extensive national and international connections of the ex-cadet community to identify worthy award recipients.  Nominees and recipients are selected from their communities as persons demonstrating the qualities of leadership (integrity, responsibility, moral courage) that Birchall demonstrated and taught during his career.

The Award has now been nationally recognized and over the years presented across the country.  Recipients to date are:

  • 2005 – Mr. Art Smith – Calgary
  • 2006 – General (Ret’d) John de Chastelain – Calgary
  • 2007 – Major (Ret’d) Danny McLeod – Toronto
  • 2008 – General (Ret’d) Ray Henault – Winnipeg
  • 2009 – General (Ret’d) Rick Hillier – Calgary
  • 2010 – Mr. Chris Alexander – Kingston
  • 2011 – Task Force Afghanistan – Edmonton
  • 2012 – Vice Admiral (Ret’d) Larry Murray – Halifax

Responsibility for the administration of the Award has now been assumed by the RMC Foundation.  The Award does not carry with it any remuneration or other benefits, but is recognized through an inscription of the name of the Award recipient accompanied by the attached description of the Award on a framed scroll together with a bas-relief including an engraved brass plaque.