Life Jacket of a different kind- The story of a Dutch Nagasaki survivor.

97.-NIOD-100448

A flash and a deafening rumble. On 9 August 1945, the American Air Force exploded an atomic bomb 500 metres above Nagasaki. The Japanese city was wiped away, 39,000 people died and approximately 65,000 were wounded.

nagasaki-bombed

Three days earlier, the Americans had also dropped an A-bomb on Hiroshima, but Japan still refused to surrender.

A Dutch prisoner of war, J. van Houten, who had been deployed to work in a shipyard near Nagasaki owned by Mitsubishi, fled with his fellow prisoners to the hills surrounding the burning city. There was no time to grab anything. Van Houten was not wearing a shirt and it got very cold that evening. To his surprise, out of the blue, he heard a young Japanese soldier ask ‘Tsumetai ka?’, which means more or less: ‘Are you cold?’ When he responded yes, the soldier gave him this raincoat.

97.-Jas-overlevende-atoombom

After a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan surrendered on 15 August 1945 and the Second World War came to an end.

Advertisements

Dr Aidan McCarthy-Rescued from Dunkirk -Survived the Nagasaki bomb.

DrAidanMcCarthy_large

“Aidan MacCarthy was one of a handful of people who survived the two events that mark the beginning and end of the Second World War,” said Jackson, a lecturer in creative media at the Institute of Technology, Tralee.

aidan

Air Commodore Joseph Aidan MacCarthy OBE, GM (1914–1995) was an Irish doctor of the Royal Air Force who showed great courage, resourcefulness and humanity during his capture by the Japanese during the Second World War.

War_flag_of_the_Imperial_Japanese_Army.svg

MacCarthy was born in 1914 in the town of Castletownbere, Beara Peninsula County Cork, Ireland. His parents owned land and businesses in the area.

-The_Square.Castletownbere

He attended Clongowes Wood School and University College Cork. He graduated with a medical degree in 1938. Lacking family connections, he was unable to obtain employment as a doctor in Ireland so he moved to the United Kingdom, working first in Wales, then in London. There, he met two former classmates from his medical school and, after a night of drinking with them, decided to join the British armed forces as a medical officer. Which service (the Royal Navy or the Royal Air Force) was decided for him by a coin toss made by a nightclub hostess in the early hours of the morning.

In 1940 he was posted to France and was evacuated from Dunkirk where he attended wounded Allied soldiers while under fire from German aircraft.

mem10202

In September 1940, he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant.

The following year he was awarded the George Medal for his part in the rescue of the crew of a crashed and burning Wellington bomber at RAF Honington.The aircraft had crash landed after its undercarriage had failed to lower and it came to rest on the airfields bomb dump, where it caught fire. Together with Group Captain (later, Air-Vice Marshal) John Astley Gray, MacCarthy entered the burning wreck and rescued two crewmen, but were unable to save the pilot.Gray was badly burned during the rescue; MacCarthy was also burned, but less seriously.

Posted to the Far East in 1941, MacCarthy was captured by the Japanese in Sumatra. The prison ship transporting Allied prisoners to Japan was sunk by US bombers. MacCarthy had to do the best he could for his patients whilst splashing around in the South China Sea. A Japanese fishing boat pulled him out of the ocean and transported him to Japan. There, he cared for Allied prisoners of war who were forced to work in horrific conditions. To the Japanese ear ‘MacCarthy’ and ‘MacArthur’ were indistinguishable. The Japanese assumed that MacCarthy must be a close blood relative of the American commander. Therefore, whenever MacCarthy answered his name, he was struck on the forehead. This may have contributed to his developing a brain clot in later life.

He spent the final year of the Second World War working as a slave for the Mitsubishi Corporation. After the war, he was never bitter towards the Japanese but refused to allow a Mitsubishi car in his driveway.

(A photo of the POW officers at Keisen, August 1945, with Aidan MacCarthy seated, second from right, )

zzzDrAidanMcCarthy1_large

The Mitsubishi Steel & Arms Works, the Nagasaki factory, where he was imprisoned and where he sought refuge from the atomic bomb, was in fact the target of the bomb on August 9, 1945.

The atomic cloud over Nagasaki, 1945

He put his medical training to good use in the camp while treating his fellow prisoners, including making a protein-rich maggot soup for those who were ill, smuggling yeast in balls of rice to other camps, and treating eye infections with shaving cream.

Dr MacCarthy was the first non-Japanese doctor to assist civilians in the aftermath of the atomic bomb attack on Nagasaki.

On August 15, 1945, the day the Japanese surrendered, he was gifted an ancestral Japanese sword by his camp commandant, whose life he saved from POWs intent on revenge.

Aidan_MacCarthy_

sword

He was one of the few people who survived the two events which bookend the Second World War — Dunkirk and Nagasaki.

The Japanese ship on which he was being transported to Nagasaki was sunk by an American submarine. Out of the 1,000 POWs on the ship, just 35 survived.

Before the war, he had weighed 14 stone. When he returned home at the end of the war, following years of starvation and malnutrition, his body weight had halved to just seven stone.

On Thursday 20th July 2017 Prince Harry will name the medical facility in RAF Honington after this Irish WWII hero Dr Aidan MacCarthy.

000618ee-488

zzzDrAidanMcCarthy3_large

Alistair Urquhart- The man that just wouldn’t be killed.

lucky2

Sometimes you come  across stories and you think “You could not write this”. Amazing tales of survival.Proof of how strong the will to live can be.

Alistair Urquhart  8 September 1919 – 7 October 2016) was a Scottish businessman and the author of The Forgotten Highlander, an account of the three and a half years he spent as a Japanese prisoner of war during his service in the Gordon Highlanders infantry regiment during the Second World War.

Urquhart was born in Aberdeen in 1919. He was conscripted into the British Army in 1939, at the age of 19, and served with the Gordon Highlanders stationed at Fort Canning in Singapore.

1024px-The_Gate_of_Fort_Canning_2,_Fort_Canning_Hill,_Nov_05

He was taken prisoner when the Japanese invaded the island during the Battle of Singapore, which lasted from December 1941 to February 1942. He was sent to work on the Burma Railway,built by the Empire of Japan to support its forces in the Burma Campaign and referred to as “Death Railway” because of the tens of thousands of forced labourers who died during its construction. While working on the railway Urquhart suffered malnutrition, cholera and torture at the hands of his captors.

-Thai-Burma-Railway-

Bridge_over_the_River_Kwai_Art.IWMARTLD6035

After working on the railway and in the docks in Singapore, Urquhart was loaded into the hold of the Kachidoki Maru, an American passenger and cargo ship captured by the Japanese and put to use as a “hell ship” transporting hundreds of prisoners. The ship was part of a convoy bound for Japan; on the voyage prisoners endured more illness, dehydration, and instances of cannibalism.

Kachidoki_maru

On 12 September 1944, the ship was torpedoed and sunk by the US submarine USS Pampanito,whose commander was unaware of its cargo of prisoners.

pampanito1

 

Urquhart was burned and covered in oil when the ship went down, and swallowed some oil which caused permanent damage to his vocal cords.He floated in a single-man raft for five days without food or water before being picked up by a Japanese whaling ship and taken to Japan.

In Japan, Urquhart was sent to work in coal mines belonging to the Aso Mining Company and later a labour camp ten miles from the city of Nagasaki. He was there when the city was hit with an atomic bomb by the United States.

7A_Nagasaki_Bomb_Cloud

Remarkably he survived all 3 events. In 2010, Urquhart published The Forgotten Highlander: My Incredible Story of Survival During the War in the Far East, an account of his experiences.

51Aie8RApcL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

In the book he expresses anger at the lack of recognition in Japan of its role in war crimes as compared to the atonement in Germany.

He was born in the City of Aberdeen, but has resided in Broughty Ferry, Dundee for many years. He spent his retirement teaching retired people how to use the computer and attended and taught ballroom dancing at many Tea Dances.He died on 7 October 2016, aged 97.

Mr Alistair Urquhart 1

 

Atom Bombed Madonna- A WWII Miracle

mary2

When the atom bomb “Fat Boy” devastated on the 9th of August 1945, one of the buildings reduced to rubble was the city’s Urakami cathedral — then among the largest churches in Asia.

4086nagasakibkj_00000003561

The blinding nuclear flash that would claim more than 70,000 lives in the city also, in an instant, blew out the stained glass windows of the church, toppled its walls, burnt its altar and melted its iron bell.

images

But, in what local Christian followers have likened to a miracle, the head of a wooden Virgin Mary statue survived amid the collapsed columns and scorched debris of the Romanesque church flattened on August 9, 1945.

The appearance of the war-ravaged religious icon is haunting. The Madonna’s eyes have become scorched, black hollows, the right cheek is charred, and a crack runs like a streaking tear down her face.

0dc609bf2df7733952e64d37a62e678e

The remains of the statue of the Virgin Mary have found a new home inside a rebuilt church, also called St Mary’s, built on the same site, only 500 metres from the bomb’s ground zero.

Urakami_church

Bockscar the plane that dropped ‘Fat Man’ on Nagasaki

Boeing B-29 "Bockscar"

Most people will know the name ‘Enola Gay’ the plane that dropped the 1st Atomic bomb on Hiroshima but surprisingly not that many people will have heard of the plane that dropped the bomb on Nagasaki, some even think that Enola Gay dropped both.

Bockscar, sometimes called Bock’s Car, is the name of the United States Army Air Forces B-29 bomber that dropped a Fat Man nuclear weapon over the Japanese city of Nagasaki during World War II in the second – and last – nuclear attack in history. One of 15 Silverplate B-29s used by the 509th, Bockscar was built at the Glenn L. Martin Aircraft Plant at Bellevue, Nebraska, at what is now Offutt Air Force Base, and delivered to the United States Army Air Forces on 19 March 1945. It was assigned to the 393d Bombardment Squadron, 509th Composite Group to Wendover Army Air Field, Utah in April.

When the United States made the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan on Monday, August 6, 1945, the hope was that this action would end the war. The bomb, nicknamed “Little Boy”,

was dropped by the B-29 Superfortress bomber Enola Gay.

And although it took a second atomic bomb to force Japan to surrender, the Enola Gay’s name has gone down in history as the plane that was responsible for ending WWII.

Landscape

But the crew of the Enola Gay only dropped the first bomb. Three days later, on Thursday, August 9, a second atomic bomb, this one nicknamed “Fat Man” was dropped on Nagasaki. The B-29 that delivered this, the final blow to the Japanese, was known as Bockscar.

Martin-Omaha-B-29-35-MO-Superfortress-44-27297-Bockscar-at-Davis-Monthan-AFB

Originally, The Great Artiste commanded by Major Charles W. Sweeney was the plane scheduled to drop the second atomic bomb. Sweeney and his crew C-15 had previously flown The Great Artiste with the Enola Gay on her flight to Hiroshima on August 6, carrying instrumentation to record and support the mission. Upon their return Sweeney and his crew began to prepare for their turn. The next mission was planned for August 11 but due to a poor weather forecast, the commanders decided to move the attack up by two days, setting a new date of August 9. Sweeney and his crew had been doing training runs in Captain Bock’s plane Bockscar while The Great Artiste was to have its instruments removed and installed in another plane.

great

However, when the mission date moved forward, it did not give the ground crews enough time to do the transfer, so it was decided that Sweeney and Bock would switch planes. Hence, Bock and his crew flew The Great Artiste in a support role on the mission and Sweeney and his crew, aboard Bockscar, became the primary unit to drop the second atomic bomb on Japan.

The primary target for the August 9 bombing mission was the industrial city of Kokura. However, when the Bockscar arrived over the city with Fat Man ready to be deployed, the crew found that visibility over the city was obscured by clouds and smog. Sweeney’s orders were specific in that the atomic bomb had to be dropped visually on the target.

140721_Kokura_Port_from_RRH_Kitakyushu_Japan01s5

Failing to spot their target after passing over Kokura three times, Sweeney decided to proceed to the secondary target of Nagasaki. At 11:02am, Fat Man, the atomic bomb with 14.1 lbs of plutonium-239, was dropped. The bomb detonated about 43 seconds later at an altitude of about 1,540 feet above the ground. Approximately 40% of Nagasaki was destroyed

Although Fat Man was considered a more powerful bomb than Little Boy, the hilly terrain helped to deaden the destruction whereas Hiroshima was flat and open and thus suffered much greater devastation. What twist of fate saved the people of Kokura and yet doomed so many citizens of Nagasaki?

It’s also known that many survivors of the Hiroshima bombing made their way to Nagasaki only to experience the second terrifying explosion all over again. Many of them did not survive the second time.

Atomic_cloud_over_Nagasaki_from_B-29

The failure to drop the Fat Man at the precise bomb aim point caused the atomic blast to be confined to the Urakami Valley. As a consequence, a major portion of the city was protected by the intervening hills, but even so, the bomb was dropped over the city’s industrial valley midway between the Mitsubishi Steel and Arms Works in the south and the Mitsubishi-Urakami Ordnance Works in the north. An estimated 35,000 people were killed and 60,000 injured during the bombing at Nagasaki.Of those killed, 23,200-28,200 were Japanese munitions workers, 2,000 were Korean slave laborers, and 150 were Japanese soldiers.

Because of the delays in the mission and the inoperative fuel transfer pump,Bockscar did not have sufficient fuel to reach the emergency landing field at Iwo Jima, so Sweeney flew the aircraft to Okinawa. Arriving there, he circled for 20 minutes trying to contact the control tower for landing clearance, finally concluding that his radio was faulty. Critically low on fuel, Bockscar barely made it to the runway at Yontan Airfield on Okinawa. With only enough fuel for one landing attempt, Sweeney and Albury brought Bockscar in at 150 miles per hour (240 km/h) instead of the normal 120 miles per hour (190 km/h), firing distress flares to alert the field of the uncleared landing. The number two engine died from fuel starvation as Bockscar began its final approach. Touching the runway hard, the heavy B-29 slewed left and towards a row of parked B-24 bombers before the pilots managed to regain control. The B-29’s reversible propellers were insufficient to slow the aircraft adequately, and with both pilots standing on the brakes, Bockscar made a swerving 90-degree turn at the end of the runway to avoid running off the runway. A second engine died from fuel exhaustion by the time the plane came to a stop. The flight engineer later measured fuel in the tanks and concluded that less than five minutes total remained.

crew

After the war, Bockscar returned to the United States in November 1945 and served with the 509th at Roswell Army Air Field, New Mexico. It was nominally assigned to the Operation Crossroads task force,Operation Crossroads was a pair of nuclear weapon tests conducted by the United States at Bikini Atoll in mid-1946.

1280px-Operation_Crossroads_Baker_Edit

But there are no records indicating that it deployed for the tests. In August 1946, it was assigned to the 4105th Army Air Force Unit at Davis-Monthan Army Air Field, Arizona, for storage.

At Davis-Monthan it was placed on display as the aircraft that bombed Nagasaki, but in the markings of The Great Artiste. In September 1946, title was passed to the Air Force Museum (now the National Museum of the United States Air Force) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The aircraft was flown to the Museum on 26 September 1961,and its original markings were restored.Bockscar is now on permanent display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton, Ohio. This display, a primary exhibit in the Museum’s Air Power gallery, includes a replica of a Fat Man bomb and signage that states that it was “The aircraft that ended WWII”.

In 2005, a short documentary was made about Charles Sweeney’s recollections of the Nagasaki mission aboard Bockscar, including details of the mission preparation, titled “Nagasaki: The Commander’s Voice

This last bit is not the take away from the history of the Bockscar, although I don’t subscribe to conspiracy theories, it wouldn’t be hard to come up with one here.

Looking at all the twists in the story.

  1. The crew was changed from the Great Artiste to Bockscar
  2. The intended target had been Kokura
  3. After the war it was part of a task force conducting nuclear tests(although not actively)
  4. Mix in the fact that it served at the Roswell Army field

One could be forgiven for believing that the UFO that allegedly crashed in Roswell was maybe there to observe the ‘weapon of mass destruction’ that was based there.

RoswellDailyRecordJuly8,1947

I don’t really believe this is the case but it does make an intriguing theory and story.