On the 7th December 1941 the Japanese simultaneously invaded the Philippines, Malay and Hong Kong and sank the American fleet at Pearl Harbour. With their vast new coastline - stretching from New Guinea to Northern Burma - to defend, the Japanese could not tolerate the presence of the British Eastern fleet based in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Hence, the unopposed Japanese navy sailed west to attack Ceylon and destroy the fleet. If successful, they would have gained total control of the southern oceans - a perfect springboard for a land invasion of India. On 4th April 1942, a young Canadian airman and his Catalina reconnaissance crew spotted the Japanese. Before being shot down and made prisoners of war, they managed to radio a warning. The Japanese attack on Ceylon lasted five days. Although there were heavy allied losses, the British fleet was saved. At the end of World War 2, Sir Winston Churchill described this as The Most Dangerous Moment and the 'single most important contribution to victory of the War'. Fifty years on, 180 allied veterans - including airman that saved Ceylon - returned to pay their respects and to commemorate peace.