A Doctor's Sword (2015) - full transcript

A young Irish doctor survived the atomic bomb attack on Nagasaki and was given a Samurai sword for the lives he saved. 70 years later his family searches for the origin of their father's sword. A Doctor's Sword uses animation and an orchestral score to tell the incredible story of how Aidan MacCarthy, a young doctor from a small fishing village on the west of Ireland survived some of the most harrowing episodes of World War II. He joined the RAF as the war began. Soon after he found himself under attack as Germany invaded Northern France and was evacuated from Dunkirk. He was awarded the George's Cross medal for bravery in May 1941 when he rescued the crew of a burning bomber which had crash-landed after returning from a raid. He later volunteered for service in Asia but as Singapore fell to the Japanese he was captured in Java and endured almost 4 years of brutal captivity. During this time he was subjected to starvation, forced labour, beatings and torture. Despite the grim circumstances he managed to use his medical training to save numerous lives by improvising with the limited resources available to him. Dr MacCarthy was working as forced labour in Nagasaki when the atomic bomb was dropped on the city and ironically, the destruction of Nagasaki brought about the beginning of the end of his captivity. Aidan's experiences cast a long shadow over the MacCarthy family throughout his life and almost 20 years after his death his daughter embarks on a journey to Japan to discover the truth behind the origin of the sword. This is a story of survival, forgiveness and humanity of the highest level.

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(wind whooshing)

(seagulls gawking)

- This is an heirloom
really, the Japanese keep.

It's a very old sword.

And when the Japanese die,

the very wealthy ones,

and they have their ashes.

And they put their ashes

in these little grooves at the back.

We have about seven or
eight grooves there.

So I feel I've seven or
eight Japs in the house.



So that makes me nervous at times.

- I was always curious about
it because it was in the house.

It was always in the house

and we knew there was
something special about it

because dad had got it in the war.

- So we would say to him,

"Oh, Dad, tell us about
the war and what happened?"

And he would say, "Well,

"maybe when you're a little bit older."

Or, "I'll tell you another time, maybe."

And we knew not to probe.

And then later on I asked mum,

"Did you ever ask dad
about the experiences

"when you first met him?"



And she said, "No,

"because really he'd been through so much.

"He used to have terrible nightmares

"and why bring all that back?"

1979, he had brain surgery,
which they think he got a tumor

as a result of all the
beatings on his head.

And he was told to use his mind and think,

and just go into his memory.

(anxious music)
(guns firing)

So he did write it all out longhand.

And then the book came out.

(gentle music)

- [Interviewer] What would you say

was the single characteristic
that enabled you

to survive all of that period?

- [Aidan] Well, it's a combination really

of my Irish Catholic
heritage, my family background

and lots and lots of luck.

(gentle music)

(waves crashing)

- Well, my father's
love growing up in Beara

and it was his roots.

So even though he traveled the
world and was away so long,

his heart was still back here.

This was it.

It was where his grandfather
had started the business

and where he had grown up.

And, you know, home is
so important, isn't it?

And we saw that all the way
through all our travels.

This was the place to get back to.

This was the Mecca for him.

He just adored Beara, in
fact he was one of 10.

Yep, five girls and five boys.

But it was his memories of growing up

and his happiness of
learning to swim and been

so able in the water, it
was most important to him.

- He was sent away to boarding school

and he went to Clongowes Wood.

So he had a good education

and his interest
obviously lay in medicine.

So you went to UCC and
he studied medicine.

I say part time, studying medicine really,

considering all the other
activities like the swimming

and the polo and the general
sort of student life really,

that was a big part of his thing as well.

He graduated in 1938 and at that time

it was pretty difficult
to get jobs in Ireland.

So he went to the UK.

(train chugging)
(train whistle blowing)

And again jobs weren't particularly easy

to get there either.

- [Aidan] I ran into
two more friends of mine

who are qualified, it was two Cork chaps,

and we had a boisterous evening
around the bars of London,

finished up in the nightclub sometime,

the early hours of the morning

and we had, by that time
decided we're all going

to join one of the services.

(upbeat music)

And the Navy and the Air Force
were the choice between us.

and we eventually got one
of the hostesses to toss up

and it came down on the
side of the Air Force.

The following morning,

three very hung-over
young doctors arrived down

at the airman street to make inquiries.

They were all so glad to see
us that we were interviewed,

medically examined and accepted

and we were out in time
to have the first drink

in the pubs opening at half past 11.

(patrons chattering)

- As 1939, obviously war was eminent.

But I suppose being young
and foolish, if you like,

they thought it was a big adventure.

(happy music)

- I see someone that's kind
of interested in my dad,

I go over and tell them, well,

that's my dad and very proud to tell them.

And then if they're really interested,

I bring down the sword and the metals.

It's a weapon, no matter what, isn't it?

But it's such an important
part of my dad's life

that it's like part of our family.

They actually used to test its sharpness

by hold it under a cherry blossom tree,

shake the tree and as the petals fell,

they would be cut in half.

(plane engine roaring)

(bomb exploding)

(tank engine rumbling)

- Then the war started
and he was sent to France.

And I suppose at that time,
he thought that that was

as far as this war
adventure was going to go.

(anxious music)

- [Aidan] We got to Boulogne
and we weren't very popular

because most of our
chaps were technicians,

fitters, rigors, and
weren't soldier material

as such and so we were much
use to the Boulogne people

for defending it.

(plane engines roaring)

(bomb exploding)

The German started to dive-bomb us

so we had to scrap our lorries and walk.

(machine gun firing)

(bombs exploding)

And we eventually got to
the outskirts of Dunkirk

where we were formed into a unit

and they were marched down the beach.

And there, your name was
put into a sort of a lotto,

if you put it a high
number, you'll be told

to go back to the beach and wait.

If you get a low number you have to stay.

(gentle music)

(bombs exploding)

(fires blazing)

We had two bad days and
three horrible nights there.

You see we were completely defenseless

and we were using just what
we could dig into the sand,

sort of fox holes to protect
ourself from the bombing.

And a direct hit would've,
of course killed us.

The whole thing was a dreadful experience

in that some men were
crying, some praying,

some singing, some completely silent,

and everybody terrified.

(terrifying music)

(military music)

It was very difficult, you see,

because there's a very shallow beach.

You had to wade out, really
up to your chest very often.

And you were pulled onto this boat

and then brought out to the bigger boat.

(sorrowful music)

And quite a number of chaps wounded.

Some of them with bullet
wounds and not shell wounds.

We opened up, what I'd be the
dining room of the ferry thing

and we started operating and removing.

And the first thing removed
were two or three bullets.

They were British bullets.

So we can only assume
that they were fired at

by some of our own chaps on our own chaps.

(waves gently crashing)

- This was a photo album,

which I came across after
many months of searching.

Not that I knew what I was searching for.

But my mother had always said

that somewhere in her possession,

there was actually a photograph of the man

that had given my father the sword.

Then I came across this album,

which just contains so much amazing stuff.

This was actually the moment

when it all started to make sense.

That I came across this
photograph of a Japanese Officer

in his uniform with the sword,

with some inscriptions on the back.

We had it translated and it says,

"To my friend, Dr. MacCarthy.

"I give you this as a
token of my friendship

"and at the outbreak of peace."

So I thought that has to
it, that has to be the man.

I don't know if it's a long shot,

but really just hoping that somebody,

somewhere in Japan knows
something to do with that man

or his family really.

I mean it's 68 years later now

so whether that's too long
for families to have moved,

to have died out to
really not be interested,

is the other point.

So it's kind of a long shot,

but we have by having the photograph,

we have at least got a face
to sort of tell people about.

(airplane engine roaring)

(upbeat music)

Tokyo.

And if possible could I
get an aisle seats, please?

Thank you, very much.

I'm fascinated to find the Kusuno's

to see what the relationship
between the two was

and to find why he would have given my dad

such a special gift.

My dad never resented the
Japanese after the war

so it would be fascinating to know

what the bond was
between these two people.

He tried to protect us from all
the horrors and the stories,

but I think in the back
of every child's mind,

they want to find out a bit more

about what actually happened
in their parents lives.

(bell jingling)

(speaking in foreign language)

(anxious music)
(plane engine roaring)

- [Nicola] Dad had a very
kind of active time in France

and then when he returned
from France in 1941,

he was in RF Honington, which was a sort

of bomber command station.

And he was the senior
medical officer on the camp.

- And one day a plane came
in returning from a mission

but the undercarriage didn't come down.

- [Aidan] The night Sergeant pilot

was his first job as captain.

He got back from raiding Germany

and he had his red green
lights showing on his dashboard

which meant that his
undercarriage was down

but didn't know whether
it was locked or not.

This chap was told to
will come in a bit faster

in case his under carriage collapsed.

He came in over the perimeter fence.

(plane engine roaring)

Touchdown and realized
that he was going too fast.

And he was going for
takeoff again to keep going

and his wingtips cut
the top of a bomb-dump,

which was situated at
the end of this runway.

And he crashed straight into it.

(plane exploding)

(worrisome music)

So we got down the
runway with an ambulance

and a fire tender.

The others all pulled us out,

the bomb scattered around, took off.

I don't blame them because
we are really terrified

I don't think you can really think.

And the driver of the fire
tender, myself jumped in

and we found the pilot there
and three of the others alive

so we pulled those out and got them clear.

- He won the George Medal
for pulling five men out

of the burning plane.

But he did say that, he
just act in the moment

and you go and do it.

And when it's life, you know,

that's something that a doctor does,

but maybe it's just a natural instinct.

(heroic music)

- There's two newspapers
helping us on our search.

Oh, crumbs, there he is.

(Nicola laughing)

That's the one.

So that's my father,
and that's Mr. Kusuno,

that's the gentleman we're looking for.

For 68 years these people heard nothing

and then suddenly to get a picture

of your grandfather in the paper, I mean,

they're gonna get a
serious shock, I'd imagine.

Hopefully a pleasant
shock and hopefully one

that they'll respond to positively.

But I mean, yeah, could you
imagine just opening the paper

and seeing your grandfather there

with somebody searching for
him, after all these years.

I mean, I hope he doesn't
give them too much

of a shock, really.

(anxious music)

- [Aidan] An urgent call
came from help Singapore.

So we set off.

We were carrying the best
part of a squadron and a half

of Spitfires and Hurricanes in the hulls.

Got to Singapore, but it was too late.

(guns firing)

(canon firing)

(fire blazing)

- [Nicola] And that's when the next part

of his sort of adventure
if you like started.

So he went to Java, then
they were sent to Sumatra

and then back to Java again.

Because the Japanese were kind
of closing in on everywhere.

(anxious music)

- [Aidan] When we got to Java,
it was a complete shambles

because the Japs were beginning

to do landings all right in Java.

(soldiers feet bashing)

(cannon booming)

(gun firing)

(soldiers yelling)

(sorrowful music)

(flies buzzing)

- Then Java was captured by the Japanese

and it's in the culture
that you lose face,

if you are captured and
that you're just despicable

and should be treated thus.

He was in a camp in
Java for over two years.

He was treated very badly.

(troubled music)

- [Aidan] They shouted at us,

slapped you and they kicked you.

And they shot and beheaded several people

for not reacting quickly to the thing.

And if you attain any thought
of making an escape or...

(gun firing)

It was terror, terror.

(anxious music)

- They were obsessed about food

because their rations were just so meager,

they had nothing.

They used to just almost
hallucinate about food,

but just try and think of meals

and there's one, I think it
was a bit of trading done

and they got a tin and he
thought it was hot dogs

which he kept for Christmas Day

and it was buried in the corner of a camp.

So on Christmas Day,
when he opened the tin,

it was asparagus.

And actually he never
touched asparagus ever again.

- [Aidan] We'd creamed off the dirty rice,

we stained it and the
maggots, we then collected

and we boiled those and turned
those into a maggot soup,

which we give to the sick.

And fortunately we got a hold
of some live yeast cultures

and the chemists, especially
the Dutch chemist amongst us

soon got to work.

Well, we're adding that as a yeast product

to our rice pap, especially to the sick.

Most of them were living on reserves.

- This was a water bottle
that was cut in half.

That's what my dad would've got his rice

with the maggot soup in.

Amazing how he just thought

to bring it back though, as well.

You'd think you'd just
wanna throw it away.

(concerning music)

- [Aidan] We tried experiments
about different types

of diets to see if we could cure beriberi

and various deficiency diseases
that were springing up.

- [Adrienne] Of course
there was no penicillin

or anything in those days,

but when they got shaving foam
he looked at the ingredients

and he realized that this could be used

to treat certain infections.

And he did.

- [Aidan] My first bad date
was when I was going to,

well we were isolating the dysentery cases

and normally I had to pass the guards,

guards were sitting inside of
what would be the front porch.

And when I got there, there was no guards,

but there was a monkey on a stand

beside where the guards had
been, so I saluted the monkey

but unfortunately one of
the guards had come back

and he saw me and he told the others.

- I think my dad, probably did regret it

because he was dragged and kicked

and punched and beaten
half to death really.

And that's why he had a very bad elbow

and tram-line of operations.

And actually his arm was so
bad even after the beating

that they had to remove a cartilage

which was done with no anesthetic

and he was almost telling them what to do

until he actually passed
out from the pain.

And then I mean, he was so lucky
not to have got it infected

and to have survived it.

- In 1944, around 1300
prisoners were transported

to Japan in a cargo boat.

It was infested with rats.

(anxious music)

(troublesome music)

- [Aidan] Just about five to midnight,

I was sitting up fighting with a rat,

it had got caught in a
bit of mosquito netting.

I was terrified and I
think the rat was too,

but he saved my life.

(boat siren blaring)

(torpedo whizzing)

(torpedo exploding)

- The boat was struck by a torpedo

from an American submarine.

He looked around and nobody
else seemed to be getting up.

And he realized then that
with the steel hold ship,

the torpedo who'd actually reverberated

and broken the necks, whiplash breaks

to everybody that was laying down.

(anxious music)

- [Aidan] So I got up and
all the lights have gone out.

The water was beginning to come in.

(water rushing)

I got out, maybe a minute
before the ship sank.

I swim the best 50 yards of my life.

(fire blazing)

- [Adrienne] He was in the
water for over 12 hours

and they were just hanging
on to bits of wreckage

trying to survive.

- [Aidan] So we were hanging onto wreckage

and you're really discovering
people during the night

and then they discovered me, the doctor

and they were shouting for help

and I was doing a surface surgery,

I was swimming from one bit
of wreckage to the other,

tying up broken collarbones

and trying to splinter broken legs.

- Eventually they were actually picked up

by a Japanese destroyer.

And I suppose, because
they were covered in oil

and dirt and blood, and God knows what,

the Japanese didn't know
who they were picking up.

If it was POWs or if it
was actually the crew

off the Japanese cargo boat.

- [Aidan] They gave us
rice bowls to start with.

We were naked, you see.

And then I don't know, but suddenly going,

what we were, or who we were.

They started beating us up
and throwing us overboard.

Some of the chaps were hitting,

they were not fully conscious,

they were been caught in the
screws of the propellers.

There was an awful lot of red blood.

But a bunch of us from the
top we saw was happening,

we dived overboard.

A destroyer going at speed

is a very difficult thing to get off.

But we swam back to our bits of wreckage.

(anxious music)

We'd been 22 hours in the water then

and we were trying to make up our mind,

whether we'd stay there
or try and get to one

of the islands, which
were away in the distance.

(waves gently splashing)

And a bunch of about five
or six boats came into view

and they were Japanese whaling boats.

And they just start
picking everybody else up

and took us into Nagasaki.

- So this area in the docks
would've been approximately

where my father would've
disembarked from the fishing

or from the whaling boat.

I'd say they were very glad
to get back onto dry land

after so many traumatic days
that they'd experienced at sea.

From been a prisoner of war for sort

of three years before that,

so they were very undernourished.

They were mentally and physically damaged.

Then plus the trauma

of experiencing all the death and carnage.

I mean, of the 780 that
were on the transport ship

only 38 made it to Nagasaki.

When the police saw them
arriving with a POWs,

they didn't really want
them in that state.

And they told the the whaling
boat to take them back out

and dump them at sea.

But the whaling boat was
so anxious to get home

after their long trip that they refused

and they left them here.

So just up there was
actually where the camp was,

where they were marched to.

And that's where they spent the next year.

They were initially put
to work in the shipyards

where they were building some
sort of big Japanese boat.

They then were transferred
to the Mitsubishi Factory,

which was metal work.

But after their time there,
then he was transferred

to a coal mine where they
were actually working

for 10 cigarettes a week.

(sorrowful music)

- [Aidan] The main beatings
I got were in Japan

when I was in charge of the
camp and I was held responsible

for any troop didn't work hard enough

or was caught infringing.

I also had to get it, 'cause
I was answerable for it.

- There was a lot of brutality.

And it was a ripple
effect with the beatings

that if someone did something wrong,

it went from the top down.

So everybody got beaten anyway.

(tram rattling)

- I was just thinking that
the wire netting there

at the top, actually still
makes it still look reminiscent

of what you could imagine they
would have had in the camp.

There's no way across that fence now.

Just like there wasn't then.

I wonder what the people
in the factory thought

when they saw people in the camps outside.

Did they really care
that they were suffering

like they were, or just
got on and ignored it?

I suppose, war times these things happen.

There's no way that you
could ever understand

or even feel how we would feel, I'd say.

I mean, there's nothing
we would've experienced

that have been any way like it.

(train rumbling)

Well, he never really said much to us.

Really, it was something
that was too horrific.

He thought as children we were too young

and vulnerable to know about, really.

Suppose it was only
when the book came out,

that we just kind of read
of the horrors of it.

Terrifying, isn't it?

(sorrowful music)

Actually been in that situation,

you needed something to hang on to.

You needed some belief,
you needed some hope.

You know, it was always an escape

that you could escape into
his faith inside himself.

- And one day he tried
to imagine the shop,

the shelves and what was on the shelves

and even the people, he tried
to bring this back to him

and he couldn't, and he went into a panic

because he thought that
his mind was gone then.

And he could imagine Japanese
people actually in the shop.

(soldiers yelling)

(anxious music)

To think that they've
taken over your sanctuary

would break your heart.

That maybe you realize

that you are actually
been broken in spirit.

(birds singing)

(speaking in foreign language)

- Mrs. Sasamoto, do you have any records

of how my father got
from Singapore to Japan?

- Yes.

(speaking in foreign language)

- [Nikki] Oh, yeah.

(speaking in foreign language)

- MacCarthy.
- Yes.

(speaking in foreign language)

- [Taeko] British.

(speaking in foreign language)

- Also, we have, I found a
photograph of Mr. Kusuno.

That was the photograph
that he gave to my father

when he presented him with the sword.

And that is also dated on September 45.

So we know that they
obviously knew each other

and that's where he received the sword.

That's the sword we have.

And then I also have this photograph,

which was taken in camp 26.

It actually says, camp 26.

And again, in September, 1945.

So I think that's my father there.

(speaking in foreign language)

- [Nicola] Yeah, same kind of roof.

Yeah, that one as well.

(speaking in foreign language)

- Is that different, that's different.

- British?
- British, yeah, maybe.

But that one--
- Yes, yes.

- It says on the back,
R.A.F. and Dutch doctor.

Four Warrant Officers.

Royal Navy, British Army.

Royal Navy, Australian.

Camp 26, Fukuoka, Kyushu Island, Japan.

(speaking in foreign language)

- [Adrienne] There was a bit
of trading done at the fences,

so they were able to put these
crystal radio sets together.

So they knew that things were coming

and of course the air
raids and the bombings

were getting worse and worse.

So luckily they were allowed

to build a shelter for themselves.

(plane engine roaring)

(machine gun blasting)

(plane engine whining)

(plane exploding)

- [Nicola] As the Japanese
was starting to panic

and knowing that the
inevitable was happening

they got them to take
this big, deep trench.

(anxious music)

- So they were digging away

and then they saw a wooden
platform thing been put up

at the far end and they realized

that they were digging their own grave,

a mass grave and they would
just be machine gunned into it.

And as he was digging,

he said he could actually
imagine himself been shot

and just laying there.

Which was just so, so sad.

- [Aidan] Around about midday,
lovely bright August morning,

we saw the aid vapor
trails in two lots of four.

So that immediately, the rest of us,

we shut down for the air raid
shelter to get in quickly.

(emergency siren blaring)

(plane engine humming)

Three parachutes came out and
there was this blinding flash.

(bomb booming)

And we were in the shelter,
so we felt the warm air,

but nothing more.

(flames blazing)

And then one of the
Australians stuck his head out

and it was his blasphemous remarks

that made us all shoot for
the opening and look out.

(anxious music)

And there was no camp.

Gone.

And the day turned to darkness.

(sorrowful music)

I couldn't see any Nagasaki,

just things sticking up here and there.

And then fires everywhere
and smoke and screaming.

Then a horrible thing started, black rain.

This was terrifying.

I personally thought it
was the end of the word.

(anxious music)

(eerie music)

(terrifying music)

- [Nicola] I mean, it's hard to imagine

that within one second the whole factory,

the whole camp, the whole city

that's been your prison camp
is just raised to the ground.

(terrifying music)

- [Aidan] And we all veered
then for the mountain

to get out.

'Cause we were in a
valley and down the middle

of this valley there was a river

and some of the chaps got stuck in that,

you see, with the mud.

We had an awful job pulling them out.

And we were stopping now
and again, to help people

we suddenly realized that it was useless

because one of the chaps pulled some woman

and her complete skin came off her face.

And another chap was
trying to help a child

and the child's arm came away, complete.

The thing was obviously that, you know

something beyond our and
we kept, we kept running.

- [Nicola] People had been
very much injured in the blast

and the aftermath, they
had caves in the hills

which were actually made
into small little surgeries.

- [Adrienne] The makeshift
hospital in the caves

and he went up and just did what he could

for prisoners and Japanese.

Those sort of radiation
burns and blindness,

so not knowing really what had happened,

he just used whatever he
could to help these people.

- [Aidan] But it was quite useless

because most of the people they
were bringing in were dead.

Most of the people treating
them were already dying.

And we, we stayed there then

and helped the Japs best
we could with the things.

And they were very frightened as we were.

(sorrowful music)

We were eventually rounded
up by the Japanese Police,

the camp type.

And they took us outside like a second,

stuck us in, what I imagined
was been a small schoolhouse

and then we had to help cremate bodies.

- After what he'd been through,

he'd been in Java for nearly
three years as a prisoner,

then transported up to
the Japanese mainland,

torpedoed on the way up

and then to be in Nagasaki
and the atomic bomb dropped

to be recaptured after all that

when you think you've got
freedom, it's terrible.

(birds singing)

(speaking in foreign language)

- Nice to meet you.
- Nice to meet you.

(speaking in foreign language)

- When they transferred the
prisoners from Nagasaki to here,

did they come by train?

(speaking in foreign language)

- So it must've take quite
a long time from Nagasaki?

(mumbling in foreign language)

- 12 Hours.
- Yes?

(speaking in foreign language)

(speaking in foreign language)

- [Nicola] Oh, right, yeah, yeah.

(speaking in foreign language)

- [Nicola] Yeah, you can see there.

(speaking in foreign language)

- Thin.
- Yeah, yeah.

(speaking in foreign language)

(anxious music)

- [Aidan] We were in this camp

and they stopped us working, they started

to give us some extra food.

And then they were very
nice to us, the Japs guards.

And the next thing, all
the Japs disappeared

and they came back in their best uniforms

and they put a radio up in front

of the Commandants office on a table

and they all assembled.

And then this voice came out of the radio

and they all bowed.

(speaking in foreign language)

(crickets chirping)

- [Aidan] The interpreter
was standing over and things

so we asked him one thing.

And he called me Major,
instead of a number.

I was Ichiban number one,

he was crawling, you see (chuckles).

So I said, "It's all over, isn't it?"

And he said, "Yes."

And I turned around to the Japs,

let's go and find the Commandant.

- The rest of the prisoners
really wanted to tear him apart

but my dad stepped in and
just said that they must wait

because he realized that
help would be coming.

So he made sure that the commander

of the camp was kept separate.

Later the camp commandant
gave the sword to my father.

We don't if it was to saving his life

or had they built up
some kind of friendship.

(birds singing)

- [Nicola] Very nice to meet you.

- It's nice to meet you.

(speaking in foreign language)

- Right, that's interesting.

(speaking in foreign language)

(speaking in foreign language)

- Well, that's interesting.

Very interesting.

(speaking in foreign language)

- That's what both
countries wanted at the end.

To just be able to live
normally again and have peace.

So he was looking forward to it

as much as my father was as well.

(sorrowful music)

- [Aidan] The Americans
flew over the following day

and dropped an awful lot of
food and clothing and medicines.

And then they dropped pamphlets
all over the countryside

to the Japanese won and
that they'd be shot,

if they were caught with even an empty tin

of rations or anything.

And if they found any of the parachutes,

they were to bring them
to the nearest camp.

And they did.

- He realized then

that he was the senior officer in the camp

and someone had to take charge.

So he did.

And he just kind of tried
to keep things in control

and he issued this order.

At 09;15 hours yesterday,
the 2nd of September,

you ceased to be prisoners of war.

This camp is now a British
Military establishment

under my command.

From the very beginning I
want it to be understood

that the rules and regulations
as laid down by me,

together with military
discipline will be maintained.

I am now responsible to our
government for each one of you

I intend to see to it that you return home

safe and sound and without a cloud

of any sort on your military records.

J.A. MacCarthy.

Squadron-leader.

Commanding.

(heartfelt music)

- [Nicola] My dad was very lucky.

He survived been a prisoner.

He survived the radiation, the brutality,

and then he was free at last.

(plane engines humming)

- It was quite a journey
of started from Japan,

they went by ship to San Francisco.

Then they went by train across
to the east coast of America.

By November, I think he
managed to get back to Dublin.

He came up to the docks in Dun Laoghaire

with plenty of kit bags on the sword.

And he was 14 and a half stone leaving

but seven stone coming home.

But my aunt tells me how
they went to meet him

and he still had that cheeky
smile coming up the gangplank.

(uplifting music)

The most emotional bit was the
telegram from my grandmother

that she sent to my dad when
he arrived back into Dublin.

And it just made it full circle as well.

It said, "A thousand welcomes
from your loving mother."

(gentle music)

She'd had a stroke in the meantime,

because she had also lost a
son, the priest in the last bomb

that was dropped on London during the war.

It was like she just hung on for him,

she died on Christmas Eve that year.

(sorrowful music)

He got the OBE and the
Pacific Service Stars

and then he got a Papal Award as well,

he became a Knight of St. Sylvester.

I think it's just for
goodness you have done

and I think his bravery was realized

even in the spiritual side.

(speaking in foreign language)

(speaking in foreign language)

(speaking in foreign language)

(speaking in foreign language)

(exciting music)

- [Nicola] I'm Nikki MacCarthy.

- Ah, nice to meet you.
- Very nice to meet you.

Very nice to meet you.

- And he, Satpso Kusuno.
- Kusuno, yes.

So you're grandson of.

Very nice to meet you.

Very nice to meet you.

Very nice to meet you.

- And his mother, Mitchko.
- Yes.

(speaking in foreign language)

Younger sister.
- Oh, lovely.

- Cody.
- Glad that we found you.

(speaking in foreign language)

- Oh, this is, oh...

I'd like to show you that I have found,

about four weeks ago,
I found this photograph

which your grandfather gave to my father.

And you'll see there's
a lovely inscription

on the back as well.

Did you see, oh, excuse me.

Did you see that was the
photograph with the inscription?

(speaking in foreign language)

- I was just gonna say, how did you feel

when you saw the article in the paper

asking for us, or looking for contact.

(speaking in foreign language)

- Oh, you didn't know, oh, right.

(speaking in foreign language)

- Yeah, my father was the same

that he didn't talk about it.

You know, that's why
it's taken us this long

to meet you.

(speaking in foreign language)

- Oh, that's lovely.

Oh, that's beautiful photograph, isn't it?

So it must've been a very
sad occasion as well.

And after the war, did your
grandfather stay in the military

or did she leave the military?

(speaking in foreign language)

(speaking in foreign language)

(speaking in foreign language)

- We heard a possibility
that in the camp in Keisen

there were, I think it was 197 Australians

and just fewer of the allied forces

and that after Japan surrendered

that the Australians
were very keen to kill

as many Japanese officers as they could.

And that my father had
taken your grandfather

and locked him in a shed or in an office

and he wouldn't let the
Australians get to him to kill him.

And then it was because of
that, he had given the sword.

But you didn't have anything?

(speaking in foreign language)

- What we would like to do

is to ask you if you would
like to see the sword again,

you'd be very welcome to come to Ireland,

anytime to come and
see any of your family.

(speaking in foreign language)

- Thank you very much.

And thank you.

And it's been an honor, an honor.

And as I say, I must give you
the address now in Ireland

and you can come over and
bring the family with you.

It'll be an honor to see you there.

(speaking in foreign language)

(emergency siren blaring)
(bell ringing)

(heartfelt music)

(audience applauding)

(bell ringing)

- It's very hard to believe
that it actually happened.

That any of that happened,
let alone to my father.

You know, in relatively recent times,

I mean, it's still in so
many people's memories

and to think that such barbarism.

And it probably still goes on today

and people will be telling the
same story in years to come.

But it was always very
difficult when he was alive

to actually believe really
that he'd been through that

and to come out relatively unscathed.

- And I know it's a different generation

and I know time moves on

but it was still three and a
half years of my dad's life.

And I think, suppose just that fact

that really mankind
hasn't learned from that.

You know, that's the sad thing as well.

It's still going on in different
parts of the world now.

- [Nicola] I think that's why the sword

was something important to him.

It was a sign of humanity.

(heartfelt music)

- One day he was sitting on
the lounge watching television

and I was pottering
around and when I went in,

I saw his hand hanging by the stairs

out by the side of the chair,

and to find he had a very bad stroke.

Very bad stroke.

- He had done an interview for RTE

and they said, Oh, it'll
be on at some future date.

And he said, Oh, they've
forgotten about me,

that'll never be on.

And then the day that he
actually got a stroke in England,

and got sick, they rang to say,

"Oh, that's going to be
on in a week's time."

And my mom said, "Well, I can't talk now,

"'cause he's just going
off in the ambulance."

And they said, "Oh no, we'll cancel it."

And we said, no, no, you
know, we'd love it to be on

and it'll be great.

- And I stayed with him all night long.

And during the night the doctor called me

and he said, "You know,
it's sad news for you.

"There's very little hope."

And I said, "Well, will I ring Ireland?"

And he said, "Yes, ring them."

And I rang home here and
he'll bring him home with me.

And then next day, that was it.

(sorrowful music)

(waves softly crashing)

- So he passed away within 24 hours.

And then we brought his
body back to Castletownbere,

his roots and his heart were here.

And the day that he was buried,

the program was on the radio.

So people were down in the hotel

and then it was like my
dad had the final word

and people just stood up and
applauded at the end of it.

And it was just amazing.

- [Interviewer] What would you say

was the single characteristic
that enabled you

to survive all of that period?

- [Aidan] Well, it's a combination really

of my Irish Catholic heritage,

my family background

and lots and lots of luck.

(uplifting music)