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Aidan MacCarthy: A Doctor’s War

Aidan McCarthy, a Medical Officer with the RAF, had survived a series of hazardous episodes during the war including the evacuation from Dunkirk, the rescue of men from a burning aircraft that had crashed on a bomb dump – for which he was awarded the George Medal, the surrender of Java to the Japanese and being torpedoed when his POW ship was en route to Japan. He then found himself in a POW camp in Nagasaki.

Here they struggled with malnutrition while being forced to work on building warships for Mitsubishi. There was also the casual cruelty of the guards.

Casual beatings were commonplace for any inaction of the ‘rules’. When they were finally allowed to send postcards home to their relatives, the Japanese discovered that 13 of the men, including MacCarthy, came from Ireland. All were given a beating by the camp Commandant because they came from a neutral country but had volunteered to fight for the British. Towards the end of 1944 most of the other officers were moved to other camps leaving only the Medical Officers and Padres behind.

The repeated knocks to the head were to have long term consequences for MacCarthy. In 1969, while still serving in the RAF he began to suffer blackouts and was eventually diagnosed with a brain tumour. The operation to remove it discovered it to be benign, almost certainly the consequence of numerous small bleeds as a result of being hit on the head. See Aidan MacCarthy: A Doctor’s War: See the full article - WW2 Today:

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