Aidan MacCarthy medical unit opened for RAF by Prince Harry
Prince Harry, officially opening a new medical centre at RAF Honington, Suffolk, UK, named after Dr Aidan MacCarthy, remarked upon the ‘incredible life’ of the Cork doctor.
Adrienne and Niki MacCarthy were joined by about 20 family members, and Bob Jackson, the producer of the film documentary ‘A Doctor’s Sword’ and author of the book of the same name, to see the prince unveil a commemorative plaque on July 20, 2017.
The prince viewed details of Dr Aidan’s life arranged on boards on the walls of the medical centre. ‘He was staggered, really - it was a real honour for us,' said Adrienne afterwards.
Many people based at the airfield had told her they had read about her father’s heroics. ‘He was always a bit of a hero there anyway,’ she said. ‘It was a really a proud day for us and we feel deeply honoured that this medical centre is now named after our father who served 40 years in the RAF.’
Prince Harry also saw the ceremonial sword given to Dr Aidan by the Japanese prison camp officer, second lieutenant Isao Kusuno, whose life he saved. Also on display were Aidan’s medals and the bowl he used to make protein-rich ‘maggoty soup’ for ailing fellow prisoners.
Bob presented Prince Harry with a copy of the Aidan MacCarthy biography. Bob said the prince spent a lot of time in the medical centre and had said it was great it was named after a serviceman who had given so much time to the RAF.
The sword, kept in a glass exhibition case, remained temporarily on loan to RAF Honington for four months, returned in person by Wing Commander Kurt von Bussman, and presented back to Adrienne and Niki at MacCarthy's Bar on December 14.
* Pictured right: Wing Commander von Bussman ready to hand back the sword at MacCarthy's Bar after an address in which he paid tribute to the life and work of Dr Aidan MacCarthy, and spoke of the 1941 Wellington bomber rescue at RAF Honington. Left: Niki and Adrienne receive the sword and their father's medals from Wing Commander Bussman.
One night in May 1941, Aidan risked his life to rescue aircrew after a Wellington bomber (like those pictured in the background photo to this page) crashed on a bomb dump on the airfield at RAF Honington.
‘Somehow we managed to drag the badly burnt and injured aircrew to safety, but there was nothing we could do for the pilot,’ Aidan writes 'A Doctor’s War', his autobiographical account of his wartime experiences.
‘He was very clearly dead and I wept for his inexperience and his mistakes and for his lost youth. Still the bombs did not explode, and when we finally staggered clear, we knew that only a heaven-sent miracle had preserved us.’
* Prince Harry meets Adrienne and Niki MacCarthy
and Bob Jackson, above, at RAF Honington on July 20, 2017. Above left: Adrienne and Niki with the plaque which was unveiled by Prince Harry.
Main photo: Rex/Shutterstock