Friendship between captor and prisoner usually happens only in movies or novels. So to have found out a true to life story of such relationship is surely inspiring. What’s more inspiring is when the friendship happened. An Irish doctor who became a prisoner of war (POW) in Japan was given a samurai sword from a soldier as a token of friendship when World War II was finally over. The doctor’s family is now on search for the soldier’s family to know the other side of the story.
Dr. Aidan MacCarthy was from Castletownbere, a small town in County Cork in Ireland, and served as a RAF doctor when he was captured in 1942 and became a prisoner in Java and later in mainland Japan. A samurai sword was given to the late doctor when Japan surrendered to the Allied Forces. It is currently in display inside the pub that the family runs. The doctor’s daughters, Nicola and Adrienne, said they have no information about the sword’s original owner until Nicola browsed through old photograph albums, where she saw a photo of the Japanese soldier identified as 2nd Lt. Isao Kusuno, a commander of Camp Fukuoka 26 in Keisen, Kaho District in Fukuoka. It was where the Irish doctor and other prisoners were moved before their release.
On the back of the photo of the Japanese soldier was a message written in Japanese. When translated, it says, “To my friend Dr MacCarthy. I give you this sword as a token of our friendship.” It was believed that it was given on August 15, 1945, when Japan officially surrendered from the war. However, Nicola believes that there could be another story. Bob Jackson, a documentary maker, said that Dr. MacCarthy was known for being “an extremely resourceful doctor with an incredible ability to care for his fellow prisoners, despite the very difficult circumstances in which he found himself.” According to Nicola, another story of the sword is that it was given to her father when he saved Kusuno from the Australian prisoners, who were plotting to kill him, by locking the soldier inside a shed. “We obviously don’t know if that’s true, but we’d like to find out,” said Nicola.
Nicola will be flying to Japan together with Jackson for nine days to reach out the family of Kusuno. Both will also meet a Japanese doctor from the Imperial Army said to be among the wardens where Dr. MacCarthy was imprisoned. “It would be marvelous if we were to meet Kusuno’s family. It would tie up the whole thing.” The Irish doctor also spent time imprisoned in Nagasaki, where he witnessed the second atomic bombing in Japan. Jackson said that Dr. MacCarthy, along with almost 200 other POWs, took cover in an improvised bomb shelter in their camp in Nagasaki. He also said that they were only less than a mile from the epicenter of the explosion when the bomb hit the city at 11:02 in the morning.
[via Irish Examiner]