A Doctors War

  • Category: History
  • Words: 1306
  • Grade: 100

        After graduating from Cork Medical School in 1938, MacCarthy was unable to obtain a medical appointment in Ireland because of local professional nepotism. He then headed to Whales, then London to work in dispensaries. After a night of drinking and bar hoping him and 2 of his friends decided to join the RAF.
        When war was declared on Germany, Flight Lt. MacCarthy was shipped to Northern France. The planes were a mixture of wooden-prop Hawkers and biplane Gladiators. MacCarthy's convoy headed toward Amiens , constantly strafed by German fighters and dive-bombed . Crowds of refugees hindered MacCarthy's convoy. He watched helplessly as women and children were blown to bits and pieces. As the convoy neared Calais MacCarthy and his medical corpsmen were issued riffles to engage in battle with the Germans.
        After the battle MaCarthy was but on a ferry. The ferry was a mile out in the channel when it was struck by a torpedo. He and his colleagues converted the dining room into an operating room and saved many lives. The ferry didn't sink because everyone went to the front of the ferry and somehow they made it to England.
        Following the evacuation from France , MacCarthy was posted to RAF Honington in East Anglia as senior medical officer , with the rank of squadron leader(major). In August 1940 Luftwaffe hit the air base. MacCarthy operated day in and day out. In May 1941 he nearly lost his life. A plane was trying to land on the base but the landing gear was jammed so the young pilot try to make an emergancy landing. When he crash the plane burst out in flames and skidded onto a bomb dump. MacCarthy rushed in the mess and rescued the planes crew and hurried them out to safety fearing an explosion. For his valour in the rescue , MacCarthy was awarded the George Medal , presented by His Majesty , King George the 6th , at Buckingham Palace in November 1941.
        Orders now came from the Air Ministry to ship MacCarthy's wing to Noth Africa to operate with the free French. Their goal was to clear the Pantelleria Channel but they were rerouted to South Africa. After a week in Cape Town they were ordered to sail to Singapore to help fight the Japanese invasion of Malaya. They then flew to Palembang , in eastern Sumatra were they became surrounded by Japanese. MacCarthy retreated to the jungle road on a 250 miles south to Osthaven. They then were evacuated by three small KLM ferry boats acroos Java.
The Japanese invaded Java and Macarthy and his men again beat a hasty retreat into the mountains. " On the fifth day , as the sun climbed into the azure sky , the Japanese suddenly appeared on our rear flank. Soon they were walking among us , without a shot being fired. It seamed more like a dream than reality." They were captured . They ended up in a captured Dutch
airfield. Every time a Japanese guard would get angry they would beat the POW's senseless. MacCarthy and his troops were divided into 2 work crews and they were forced to fill out detailed questionnaires on aircrew training. One of the senior British officer refused to allow these forms to be filled out. He was beaten and then paraded in front of the POW's and then put to death by a firing squad.
        Next the captives were marched to a railroad and herded into train. After a horrendous 16-hour journey they arrived in Soerabaja in eastern Java. There MacCarthy was nearly beaten to death by 6 Japanese because he saluted to one of the guards monkeys. The food they were given there was unwashed rice with millet and rotton sweet potatoes. The rice was invested with maggots so when it was boiled the POW's would save the creamy lar from the maggots and make a soup called " Maggot soup".
        MacCarthy doubted the loyalty of the Indonesian's in the POW's until one day he witnessed a horrific beating on a Indonesian. The man was beaten to a pulp and buried up to his neck. MacCarthy watched for three agonising days as the man was eaten alive by many different bugs and eventually died.The men had very or no control over there bowels or bladders and there was very little medicine for the men. Once while attending to a dying man MacCarthy was bashed in his elbow repeatedly until it became shattered with a rifle for failing to salute an guard.
        Again the group was moved in dark wagons for a 22 hour trip. Many men died on this trip and the heat started decomposing the deceased bodies rapidly so the smell was unbearable. Now some of the men broke it with cases of leprosy and malaria. In the new POW camp they were aloud to hold bridge tournaments , stage dramatics and participate in debates. But after 6 months they were moved agin and into a very hard place. The POW was crowded onto cargo ships and on the way to the camp there ship was struck by a torpedo right beneath MacCarthy . The ship began its nose dive to the bottom of the ocean when MacCarthy jumped of and once again had cheated death. After 12 hours they were picked up by a Japanese destroyer. But the soilders on the boat just beat the POW's and threw them over board. Some of the men that were to weak from the beatings were sucked in to the revolving screws of the destroyers and disappeared into a bloody world pool. A passing fishing boat picked up their little crew and shipped then to Nagasaki. At this point most of the men had gone insane. In Nagasaki the POW's were assigned to hard labour in coal minds and construction in the harbour. There day started at 5 am and ended at 5:30 pm. At this time men of the men didn't speak , they had lost their will to live. In the summer of 1945 the air raids increased and the POW's were terrified of being blown up so the authorities gave them permission to build bomb shelters after they finished work. They dug trenches 5 feet deep and 3 feet wide , which they covered with light concrete.
        On August 9 1945 , MacCarthy remembered the day very clearly. It stared out as a bright sunny day . High above he saw eight vapour trails , two four engine bombers heading south then they turned back toward the toward Nagasaki. MacCarthy scrambled the men into the bomb shelters but some men just wouldn't go. One of the men shouted that s small parachutes had been dropped. Then followed by a blue atomic flash , accompanied by a bright , magnesium-type flare. Next came a deafening explosion , followed by a blast of hot air that shuddered through ventilation slits in the concrete. AN erie silence Followed then a Australian soilder stuck his head up and looked out. Everything was gone. Bodies were everywhere. The men had thought that the world had come to an end.
        MacCarthy and the POW's still feared the Japanese would tear them to shreds but the day after the bomb the emperor saying to surrender. MacCarthy being the highest rank (major) of the POW's excepted the commandant's sword. Two days after being free they were rescued by American soldiers and shipped home. MacCarthy was takin to Hawaii and then through Canada on a 5 day train ride then on the Queen Mary to his home.
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