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As it Happened. -

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(generated from captions) Edward was surprised
by Warwick's attack.

With his forces unprepared,
he fled to the Netherlands,

leaving Warwick to free
the bewildered King Henry

from the Tower.

With her husband back on the throne

and her son
ready to step into his shoes,

England was once again
within Margaret's grasp.

So on Easter Sunday, 14 April 1471,
after a difficult voyage,

Margaret and her son at last
set foot on the English coast

and at that moment
their world fell apart.

Their timing was disastrous.

Edward too had returned to England
with a small band of soldiers

and just hours
before Margaret landed,

in a bitterly fought battle

Edward defeated and killed Warwick.

Margaret had support
and reinforcements

in the west of the country

and she made her way to join them.

Edward set out to intercept her,

warning that death
would be the penalty

for anyone who helped Margaret.

Everything now depended
on this race across the country.

The two armies met at Tewkesbury

and it was here
in this beautiful abbey

that Margaret was once again
left to wait for news.

But this time she was alone.

For the very first time,
at the age of 17,

her son was on the battlefield.

Today, he would either win his
father's crown or lose his life.

The end, when it came, was quick.

Margaret's son died where he fell
in the rout of the Lancastrian army.

Margaret didn't try to run.

She had nowhere to go
and no-one left to fight for.

And when Edward made
his victorious entry into London,

the captive queen
followed in a chariot,

straight-backed and blank-faced,
staring at nothing.

The following day King Henry's body
was brought out of the Tower.

The Londoners were told

he had died of "pure displeasure
and melancholy"

at the news of his son's death,

but few doubted that Edward
had ordered his killing.

Margaret was 41.

And without her husband and son,
her life was over.

She was no longer a threat
to Edward,

so he had no need to kill her.

Instead, he imprisoned her
for four years in England

before allowing her to return to
France, penniless and purposeless.

And when she died at the age of 51,

her death went unnoticed
by the crowned heads of Europe.

Margaret and Isabella
had each stepped forward

to become a queen who dominated
the political chessboard.

Their forceful leadership
shaped the power play around them,

but it also exposed them
to vitriolic criticism.

Their self-assertion that would
have seemed natural in a man

was deemed unnatural,
even monstrous, in a woman.

As a result, they've gone down
in history condemned as she-wolves.

In the next program we'll see what
happened when England was faced

not with inadequate kings,
but no kings at all.

When Edward died
there was no-one left

to claim the title
of King of England.

For the first time
in English history,

all the contenders for his crown
were female.

So would the Tudor queens succeed
as England's first female kings?

Would England finally accept
the rule of a woman alone?

Supertext Captions by
Red Bee Media Australia
Captions copyright SBS 2012

Good evening, Mariana Rudan with a World News Australia Update. Australian troops in Afghanistan have officially farewelled 24 year old Corporal Scott James Smith, who was killed in a bomb blast in Uruzgan province earlier this week. Hours after the Eid al-Adha ceasefire officially began, there have been numerous reports of violence across the country.A chance that this can hold. Son Dodi things that an hold. Son Dodi things that there is a chance that it will work.The Chinese government has expelled disgraced former power broker Bo Xilai from Parliament, over his suspected involvement in a cover-up concerning his wife's murder of British businessman Neill Haywood. And the Gillard government has sealed a deal with the South Australian Government to restore the ailing Murray-Darling Basin. I'll have a full World News Australia bulletin at 10:30pm.

The Far East saw some of the
bloodiest fighting,

and most appalling atrocities
of the Second World War.

Millions died.

But one young man
came through the lot.

He somehow survived a combination
of catastrophes unlike any other.

Torture and disease in a Japanese
prisoner of war camp,

torpedo and shipwreck
and the Nagasaki atom bomb.

Each of these
killed tens of thousands,

but he survived them all.

His name? Alistair Urquhart.

And he's still with us today.

The authorities forbade Alistair
to talk about his war.

For decades he was silent.
His wife died without ever knowing.

You felt really forgotten.

We were the forgotten army.

But now, for the first time
on television, he'll tell his story.

There were men shouting, screaming,
calling for their wives,

calling for their children.

A tale of unimaginable resilience
and willpower.

We were determined
that they weren't going to win.

The story of a man
who simply refused to die.

Every week, Alistair Urquhart
goes to the tea dance

at his local village hall.

At 92, his foxtrot can still sweep
any woman off her feet.

When I'm dancing,
I'm in a different world.

Though I say it myself, I'm pretty
good at doing a quick swerve

or a different step.

I enjoy every dance.

It's a world far, far away

from the hell he went through
nearly 70 years ago.

Alistair did not have what you might
call "a good war".

And only recently
has he felt able to revisit it.

At first, he could only
write his memories down,

but now, for the first time,
he'll speak openly

about those terrible years.

It suddenly flashes though my mind,

"Wait a minute.
How did you get out of that one?"

The tale starts in November 1939.

Recruits signed up in droves,

hoping for adventure
and a chance to do their bit.

19-year-old Alistair got an exotic
post into Singapore, 6000 miles away,

to help defend this outpost of the
British empire from invasion.

For a lad who'd barely been
out of Aberdeen,

it was like being sent to Mars.

The thing that struck me most

was the smell that came
from the cooking utensils,

and the Chinese men
sitting, playing mah-jong,

and the clatter
of the mah-jong was amazing.

It was so different.

When war broke out in 1939,
Japan allied itself to Germany,

and embarked on a massive land grab.

In its sights, British colonies in
the region,

including the prized strategic base
of Singapore.

British propaganda did its best
to play down the Japanese threat.

The idea the British
tried to put across

was that a Japanese's eyesight was
poor. They all wore glasses.

And they were small.

And they would not
be fighters at all.

The speed and efficiency
of the Japanese advance
soon gave the lie to that.

On 7 December 1941,

they attacked the American fleet
at Pearl Harbour.

2,500 were killed.

Meanwhile, they launched
a devastating offensive

in the Malayan peninsula.

They were highly skilled
jungle fighters,

ruthless and well trained.

The British were unable to offer much
more than a token resistance.

They virtually just overran our
people right, left and centre,

right down to Singapore.

The entire operation
took less than two months.

By the beginning of February 1942,

the Japanese were on the outskirts
of Singapore.

The British garrison was out-gunned,
outnumbered, out-manoeuvred.

On February 15,
Singapore fell.

Eventually, the British gave in
and surrendered,

in what was the greatest
capitulation, in terms of numbers,

ever suffered by Britain in any war.

Over 100,000 British and Empire,
Australian and Indian, troops.

And it was a very, very
humiliating defeat.

Those who could, fled.

But defending troops, like Alastair,
stayed to the last.

They were rounded up
by their captors,

and grimly awaited their fate.

As we stood there
in the blazing sun,

without food, water or shelter,

the horrible reality broke over me

in sickening, depressing waves.

I was part of Britain's
greatest-ever military disaster.

I was a prisoner.

It was a gut-wrenching realisation
that my liberty was gone.

This was the worst moment
of my life.

50,000 men, Alistair included, were
herded into the barracks at Changi,

built to accommodate
no more than 800.

Some were as young as 19.

That was the start
of Japanese incarceration.

Just sheer...

sheer hell, really.

What is common to all camps,

is the lack of basic requirements...

clean water, sanitation, food.

The meals were three times a day.

There was rice in the morning
and rice at lunchtime,

and rice at teatime.

And there were no toilets.

Now utterly isolated,

the men struggled to cling
to a sort of life.

They made friends,
established routines,

hoped desperately for release.

Then, after eight months, Alastair
thought he'd got a lucky break.

I was told that I'd be put
on a draft of 600 men,

to go to a holiday camp,

where the Japanese say that you will
do three days work, three days rest,

and good food.

His optimism lasted
only as far as the train.

The men were herded into cramped,
airless rice trucks.

It was a terrible shock.

Packed into these trucks,
30 or so to a truck,

men ill with dysentery,
dehydrated, sick, malaria.

Now, in the Singapore heat,
those steel sided trucks,

you couldn't touch the side.

So there was nowhere you could sit.

And then the doors were closed.

I thought "What on earth is going
to happen now?"

What did happen was one of the most
shameful episodes

in this, or perhaps any other war.

Welcome to hell.


Alistair Urquhart
joined the Gordon Highlanders at 19.

He spent his 22nd birthday in a
Japanese prisoner of war camp,

completely cut off
from the world outside.

Then, his captors
promised him an easier life

in what they described
as a holiday camp.

What followed
was a train journey in a steel truck

to Ban Pong
in south-western Thailand.

The train was hot as a furnace,
30 to a carriage,

no windows, no air, no light.

Five days and five nights went by
before the ordeal came to an end.

To get out into the open air
was an absolute heavenly relief.

You kept breathing gulps of air,
rather than just breathing.

This welcome respite was short lived,

for then began what was to become
a death march.

The army of half-starved,
dehydrated, diseased men

was forced on foot through 160
kilometres of unforgiving jungle.

If they fell behind,

simply bayoneted those men
that couldn't carry on.

As there was a column of three
in this march,

I made sure I was in the centre,

so the Japanese walking on either
side couldn't really get at you.

Many fell on the trail.
Some killed where they lay.

Others, left for the heat and the
insects to finish them off.

After another five days,

they were told they had arrived
at their destination.

Can you imagine what we found
when we got to the holiday camp?

It was just virgin jungle.

There was to be no rest
and no shelter

until they'd built it
with their own bare hands.

"Cut down trees. Build huts."

So we had to start
cutting down bamboo trees.

This is a holiday camp.

Alastair and the other POWs

were to be slave labour
on an impossible project.

A railway running
from Thailand to Burma,

through some of the most inhospitable
territory on the planet.

If you look at
the geography of the region,

in order to go from, say, Thailand,

over to Burma,

one of the few ways you can do it

would be to go through the Straits
of Malacca,

and that's exactly the place where
Allied submarines

are waiting for you,

so it is absolutely critical
to have a land route

that can move mass amounts of
freight very efficiently.

In all, some 330,000 men, including
over 30,000 British POWs,

were sent to work
on the Burma Railway.

The dense jungle
wasn't the only obstacle.

Facing us was a huge wall of rock,
probably 30 feet high.

We had to go through that rock.

And to do that, it was a hammer
and tap and dynamite.

It's unbelievable, the weight we
were expected to be able to lift.

And if you did something bad,

then you were made
to stand in the sun

with a huge boulder above your head,

and every time
you dropped that boulder,

you got beaten up.

That they could work at all on the
rations they were given

defies understanding.

The amount of rice,
if you take a mug,

half of that was your ration.

And the same amount of water.

Now, that was supposed to be
three times a day.

But hunger makes a man resourceful.

There are accounts of snail farms.

Pets went into the cook pot,
if things were that bad.

A lizard...
Anything they could find.

Muscle wasted, stamina declined.

Things seemed
to get worse every day.

And there was nothing to give you
any hope whatsoever.

Every morning,
I used to say to myself,

"Right, we'll survive today."
Never a thought of tomorrow.

Infection and disease took hold.

Like many of the men,
Alistair saw a small cut on his leg

quickly turn into
a painful tropical ulcer.

Desperate for relief, he paid a visit
to the camp doctor.

He said "I'm sorry, but there's
nothing I can really do for you.

I suggest you go to the latrines
and get some maggots,

and put them on the ulcer,
put a leaf around it,

and let the maggots do their job."

And I said, "What will they do?"

He said "They will eat
the rotten flesh...

"until they come down
to the good flesh."

Well, fortunately,
I still have two legs.

Even today, I can sometimes feel the
wee de de de de de! (CHUCKLES)

But maggots couldn't help everybody.

Very occasionally, medical supplies
from the Red Cross got through.

Often they were confiscated
by the Japanese.

Medics among the prisoners
learned to improvise.

They made out of bamboo all manner
of physio and nursing equipment,

everything from bed pans
to artificial limbs.

There's one example
of an artificial limb

made out of the remains
of a crashed aeroplane.

The engineers in camps could convert
cutlery into medical instruments.

Forks and spoons were bent and
shaped into surgical retractors

for doing operations.

Knives were sharpened
and used as scalpels.

As soon as Alistair
could walk again,

the Japanese put him
on a new project.

He was to work on one of the infamous
bridges over the River Kwai.

That bridge is part of a jugular
vein for that part of the empire,

and once they've established that,

and are able to move large amounts
of men and material into Burma,

they can threaten
the entire British Empire.

It was treacherous work.

Weak, starving men
balanced on slippery bamboo,

high above the jungle canopy.

Many died, but nobody forgot for a
moment which side they were on.

At every opportunity, we sabotaged.

I did, specifically.

And we used to get bolts
to go through the log,

so if you had a chance,

you had a wee steel saw hidden away,

and you would cut
part way through the bolt.

So between that and what all of us
were doing,

when the first engine went across
the bridge, the bridge collapsed.

It was clearly a sight,

but, of course, the whole camp

and everybody connected with it
got punished.

Torture was commonplace
and inventive.

One of the worst was a bamboo cage
lowered into a pit,

and covered with corrugated iron.

The black hole.

It was a primitive oven,

too small
for a man to ease his limbs,

just big enough for him
slowly to roast.

One evening,
Alistair went to the latrine.

On the way back, I encountered
this Korean guard...

..who, unfortunately,
started to be rather sexual with me.

And without really thinking,

I kicked him in the spot that no man
wants to be kicked in.

And he fell, screaming and
hollering, to the ground,

and I thought "This is it.
I've really done it now."

And, of course,
the whole camp wakes up,

Japanese running all over the place,
fixed bayonets,

and I was dragged in front of
the commanding officer's hut.

The next day, he found himself in the
black hole.

"My heart sank.

"I knew that most men kept in there,
usually for three or four weeks,

"didn't come out alive.

"Darkness and the filth of the
previous occupants engulfed me.

"I knelt and sobbed,
falling in and out of consciousness.

"In the darkness, the sense of
isolation was devastating.

"The next few days were the worst
I had experienced on the railway.

"Like a culmination of
the extremes of temperature

"from the steel carriages on the
way up to the railway,

"along with the death march,

"and every other ounce of suffering
endured since,

"all crammed into that tiny,
backbreaking black hole.

"My degradation was complete."

Alastair survived seven days
and nights, but only just.

I used to think
"You're not suffering now."

Death was an absolute blessing,
really... the camp.

Terrible to think, at 20, 21, 22,
that's the end of your life,

but by that stage,

The Japanese took 50,000 prisoners
from the United Kingdom,

soldiers, sailors and airmen,

and of those 50,000,

over 12,500 died in captivity,

25% of British prisoners
from Great Britain.

The percentage of British prisoners
that died in German captivity

and Italian captivity
was only about 4%.

Perhaps the worst hardship of all
for those in the camps

was the feeling they were forgotten.

In Britain, the war meant Europe.
Singapore was an embarrassment.

The Japanese best left to the Yanks.

So for the men in the jungle,
there were no letters from home,

no fags or chocolate,
no news, no hope.

A lot of the men, apart from being
physically ill,

became mentally ill.

And one of the saddest things that
one could ever imagine

was the fact we had to build
bamboo cages for them.

And at night, you would hear the
mumbling and rantings

of these poor chaps.

You know, death would have been
a godsend for them.

I called on God a few times,
I can tell you.

Particularly when I was thinking
about getting myself rid.

I would take suicide,
as so many did.

There was, though,
one moment of rare solace.

Some of the officers did try
to improve the situation.

And one of them
was to have a concert

on top of a hill.


The part they were playing was
Mendelssohn's violin concerto.

Now, they had no music.

This, actually, was probably the
first time

I'd heard Mendelssohn's
violin concerto.

And I was completely and utterly
taken by the music.

I didn't realise
I was still a prisoner then.

And for the whole of that evening,
that was the way I felt,

that the music was in me
and it was the best medicine

that I could possibly have.

The prisoners did anything they
could to keep their spirits up.

Some drew their impressions
of camp life,

hiding them for posterity
in bamboo rolls in the ground.

Others organised makeshift

Theatrical performances
were very important,
where they were able to put them on,

because they involved
so many different people.

So you'd have beautiful posters
that were drawn to promote them,

you'd have programmes,

and everyone could either
go and watch it,

or help to produce the sets
and the costumes,

and be completely transported by it.

But while they played, a hidden
enemy was gathering strength.

The unsanitary conditions
bred a new disease.

Cholera swept through
Alastair's camp.

For Alastair, cholera was to bring
about his release from the camp.

But with that release,
came even greater danger.


In 1943 Alistair Urquhart, a Japanese
prisoner of war, was perilously ill.

He's survived incarceration,

forced labour and torture.

Yet still his adventures
were far from over.

His weight was down to six stone.

Unable to work, he was sent
to a hospital camp

in Chunkai, west Thailand.

Having survived this far

he was not about to let
a little thing like cholera

get the better of him.

Knowing what can happen
made me fight harder to live.

But no sooner had he recovered

than he found himself crammed into
a prison ship with 450 other men.

As ever, he had no idea
what was going on.

But experience had taught him
to fear the worst.

My thoughts were, this is an easy
way of getting rid of us.

They'll take us outside the harbour
and they'll scuttle the ship.

The thing you need to remember about
being a prisoner of war

is it's not like

You don't know when your term
is going to end.

It could go on
for the rest of your life.

They knew that the Japanese talked
about fighting to the death

so they were still very fearful of
how it might end.

Whether they would be killed
as a sort of last revenge.

So there was that anxiety
always underlying everything.

But the plan wasn't to kill them.
Or not straight away.

In the outside world,
America had Japan on the back foot.

Japan had called up all the men
in their factories to fight.

And they were shipping POWs over
to replace them

in what become known as hell ships.

Then came the worst five days
one could ever imagine.

It's difficult to describe how
a human being can become an animal.

The men were actually going mad.

There was fights.

There was real...
vicious, animal fights.

And I expect people were suffocated.
You had no idea. It was pitch black.

I never knew if it was Monday,
Tuesday, Wednesday,

Thursday or Friday,
Saturday, Sunday.

Or even what month it was.

I didn't care.

All I cared about was getting
through that day.

Japanese shipping was no longer safe,
even in home waters.

The Americans were coming.

And slowly taking control
of the South China Sea.

On 11 September 1944,

Alastair's ship was spotted
by an American submarine.

The captain and crew had no idea
who or what it carried.

They just saw an enemy vessel.

There was a tremendous noise.

It felt as we'd had hit a mine
or something.

And within virtually seconds

water started to pour in
through the hold.

And suddenly I found myself
in the water

but in a flaming sea of oil.

And I was naked
and I swam as hard as I could.

There were men shouting, screaming.

Calling for their wives,
calling for their children.

And I just turned around and saw the
ship go under the waves.

The ship sunk in just 15 minutes.

That night,
244 of Alistair's comrades died.

Victims, as they say,
of friendly fire.

And of course,
the sharks.

In those waters
nobody survived for long.

But by a miracle, Alistair found
an abandoned life raft.

That was night.

And I drifted and drifted

and when dawn came

I found myself alone
as far as I could see.

There followed his most extraordinary
ordeal so far.

Alistair drifted alone for days.

Searing heat in the daytime,
freezing cold at night.

No food, no water, no sign of help.

The time came where I was drifting

out of myself.

He stayed conscious and sane

by bringing to mind
his favourite songs.

It was the fact I could sort of play
music in my head.

He went through his complete
repertoire of pre-War quick steps,

foxtrots and waltzes.

But he always returned to his

(Jaunty piano tune)

Blind, burned and nearly dead,

he was spotted by a passing ship.

Some of the men were rescued
by American ships.

For them the War was over.

But Alistair's ship was Japanese.

Once again he found himself
their prisoner.

How they got me off a raft
onto the ship, I have no idea.

From that stage on,
I have no idea how I got to Japan.

I have no idea. I must have
been in a very bad state.

On 29 September 1944,

he was taken to a camp just outside a
place then little-known to the world.

A town on Kyushu Island
called Nagasaki.

Compared to the jungle,
it was paradise.

We had a Japanese mat to lie on.

That was a big change.

We also had, for half an hour,
some running water.

But we didn't have any soap
or a toothbrush or anything.

So even that
was a little bit better.

As far as Alistair knew,
a swastika could have been flying
over Buckingham Palace

but after all his ordeals this
at least seemed like stability.

It wasn't to last.

One day in August 45,

I was tending to the tomato plants,

which was a case of emptying
the Japanese latrines

and pouring the liquid
onto the tomato plants,

which I always remember
were a lovely green.

While I was doing that,
I heard the noise from a plane.

I could see quite clearly
it was American.

And there was no opposition.

So that gave me a real fillip.

I thought
"Ah, the Americans are here."

But suddenly a hot gust, which I
thought was a gale-force wind,

knocked me sideways.

I had no idea what it was.

The first atomic bomb was dropped
on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945.

The second,
three days later on Nagasaki.

Some men described thinking that
it was a local ammo dump
that had gone up.

And not having any idea
until after the war was over

and the troops came
in to relieve the camps.

From then on
we didn't see any Japanese.

They just disappeared.

The prisoners had no idea how
devastating the bomb had been.

75,000 were killed instantly
and a further 75,000 injured.

It caused this immense loss of life.

I think, personally, it saved
Japanese lives as well.

Because had there been an invasion
of the Japanese islands,

the entire population
was going to be mobilised

to fight the American, they would
have been principally American,

invaders but perhaps with a British,
Australian component as well.

And it would have been a massacre.

Many are convinced that the bomb also
saved the lives of Alistair

and his fellow prisoners.

We know that
the orders had been given

by the Japanese military

that all prisoners of war
were to be exterminated

in early September of 1945.

That if the war hadn't ended
when it did,

I have no reason to doubt that that
is exactly what would have happened.

Japan surrendered
on 14 August 1945.

But with no news to tell them
it was all over the POWs stayed put.

They had been
hungry, beaten,

diseased and without hope
for three and a half years.

Then the Americans came.

At last the prisoners were liberated.

There was a big cheer.

Although we were filed up in ranks,

it was just one holy rush.

Whoever got on first was in
the first truck or whatever.

I managed to be
on the first truck.

The drive from the camp to the port

took them through the skeletal
remains of a once-bustling city.

I stared at the countryside
out of the rear of the lorry.

The hedgerows and trees
now appeared to be dying.

As we thundered on,
the green of the hedgerows faded.

Reddish-brown leaves turned brown,
grey and then black.

Fairly soon nothing was left.
No birds sang, nothing lived.

The truck kicked up great clouds of
fine grey dust as it sped along.

It looked more like
the dark side of the moon.

The words that rang out across the
shattered ruins of Nagasaki

were never sung with more conviction
and passion - Rule Britannia.

But I remained detached,
unsure of what to think.

Alistair was taken to the port.

He was alive.

For six years he had been through
experiences no human being

should ever have to endure.

Now he was going home.

For me, it was...

..unbelievable that we could
be free.

And then when we actually started
to sail

a terrible thought
went through my mind.

"Suppose there is a Japanese

"doesn't know the war is finished?"

And that fear was always there
on the journey home.

The first night, the band on the
ship played 'Sentimental Journey'.

A very apt tune, I would say.

If I'd been a bit fitter

I might have gone on the deck
and... danced on my own.

But unfortunately I wasn't
in that state to do it.

But I had ears to listen.

For the first time in years
they allowed themselves to imagine
arriving home,

seeing loved ones,
sharing their stories.

But they were to be brought up short
by one last cruel shock.

One of the things that was produced
to us was a piece of paper

agreeing to sign that we would not
talk about our experiences

nor what we had seen in Nagasaki.

It was nothing less
than a gagging order.

Home came the heroes.
And no one could be told.

In 1945 Alistair Urquhart,
after six years away,

three and a half of them
a prisoner of the Japanese,

was at last on his way home.

But he and his fellow prisoners
had been given strict instructions

never to breathe a word
of their ordeals to a living soul.

The Americans were very sensitive
about any sort of information

about the atomic weapon
being circulated

in the broader public.

How could we be so barbaric as to
wipe out women and children

with this terrible weapon?

The truth of the matter was that
both America and Britain colluded

to do this because they wanted
to trade with Japan and Russia.

We were the victims.

Coming back and telling lots of
gruesome tales about the Japanese,

it defeats the purpose
of building strong relations

between the United States and Japan.

And I think this becomes even more
important once China

falls to the Communist Party.

Then Japan becomes the sole bulwark
against Communism in the region

so that occupation,
the rebuilding of Japan,

the creation
of a stable government,

getting its economy back on track
were all critical

to the United States in the region.

After nearly 70 years
the sense of injustice still burns.

You felt really forgotten.

We were the forgotten army.

After VE Day, the troops back from
France and Germany

were welcomed with full honours
and street parties.

Alistair expected
a similar reception.

I assumed
that there would be a welcome party,

a band playing.

Not such a thing.
There was no one to welcome us.

In terms of popular culture

the war in Europe certainly
dominated post-war years

in terms of books, novels, films.

And the war in Europe was a victory.

The public didn't really
have any feeling

for what had happened out there.

Even the family reunion was a shock.

I was so glad to see my family

and I was shaken, really shaken,

by the state of my mother
and father.

I'd forgotten the fact that
I'd been away six and a half years,

but the strain had been on them, not
knowing whether I was alive or dead.

They took their son home
for a celebratory meal.

But he found too much had changed
for him to simply pick up the threads
of his former life.

All I wanted to do
was to get outside.

So I stood up and said
"I'm going out."

"We'll come with you."

I said
"No, I want to be on my own."

Which was probably
very hurtful to them.

But that's what I needed.

"I just wanted to be on my own.

"I had lived a solitary life
for so long

"that love only suffocated me.

"In many respects
my family felt like strangers.

"They could never comprehend the
depths of man's inhumanity to man,

"or the awfulness of an existence
that consisted

"of surviving one day at a time."

While I was walking I was
continually looking back.

It must have been the fact that I
thought a Japanese was behind me.

And to be honest I was scared
there would be...

Eventually he found a sort of peace.

He met a woman called Mary
and soon they were married.

But in the 46 years between their
marriage and her death,

he never once
mentioned his wartime experiences.

From that time on,

she knew I'd been a Japanese
prisoner of war.

But we never talked about it.

And strangely enough she never asked
questions about it.

But nearing the end of his life

he decided somebody
should bear witness to the sacrifice

that he and his comrades had made.

He would tell one person - his son.

Unable to find the words
face to face, he put it in writing.

The worst bit of reading it
was the understanding

of how close to death he must have
been for all these years.

And how strong-willed he must have
been to survive.

Because I try and put myself
into his shoes

and I probably reckon I would have
lasted just a few weeks,

and given up.

Most of us would probably feel
the same.

And the death toll amongst
the Japanese prisoners of war
was astonishing.

Over 13,000 died in captivity.

But Alistair has a simple explanation
for his exceptional tale.

I often wonder now
"How did I survive?"

I think when I was a youth if I took
up anything, anything at all,

I had to be the best or at least
try to be the best

at that particular thing.

And I've always wanted to be
a winner.

I think, truthfully that...

..I made my own luck.

Captions (c) SBS Australia 2012


This program is captioned live.The final journey for a digger killed in have in S10. An exclusive reporter.Corporal Scott Smith was a fine soldier and a good bloke. Syrian cease-fire - the opposition claims it has already been broken. Kicked out of Parliament - charges loan for China's former power broker, Bo Xilai. And the Murray Darling pumping in more water to save the ailing river system.

Welcome to the program. The final journey has begun for Corporal Scott James Smith, Australia's most recent fatality in Afghanistan. The 24-year-old of ghanistan. The 24-year-old of -- soldier from SA was killed in a bomb blast earlier this week. The ramp ceremony took place at eremony took place at the Australian base at Tarin Kowt it from where we filed this report.

He was a member of the soldiers' elite. And in junior from the Special Operations task group. -- and engineer. His colleagues and mates today's es and mates today's did in his honour, saluted his service and said their hardest goodbyes. The 24-year-old from the Special Operations engineer Regiment died on Sunday when an intruder at -- improvised explosive device detonated during a search in Helmand Province. It is now being described as a factory of bombs. The forces were being withdrawn when ere being withdrawn when the blast occurred. The compound was later destroyed. The commander of the task force paid his respects for all those deployed.I would just like to offer, on behalf of all the members of the Joint Task Force, might can -- sincere condolences to call Paul Smith's family.In an earlier private service an earlier private service for the special forces, whose identities are protected, the task group's padre prayed for group's padre prayed for Scott Smith, his family and the colleagues who have to fight on. They had a reading from the Book of Timothy. The time of my departure has come, it reads, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. Last night, the general spoke to the task group members coming to terms with their loss. Despite the Coalition forces preparing to hand over security and withdrawal, he says there is still work to be done.Corporal Scott Smith was a fine soldier and a good bloke. He will be sorely missed. The job for us now is to get on with the mission and that it is what I have asked the soldiers to do.In the shadow of this loss, four more caution soldiers have also died. Two British soldiers were killed two days ago. Yesterday, north-east of Yesterday, north-east of Tarin Kowt, two Americans were shot dead by a man wearing an Afghan national police uniform. Some of their colleagues also joined the fare well for the fallen Australian well for the fallen Australian corporal. The friends to have kept vigil with him over the past few days carried him aboard. As the engines carried at the Piper's lament and he was sent on his way towards home. Scott Smith's name is now added to the honourable other added to the honourable other Australian soldiers who have lost their lives fighting here. t their lives fighting here. 39 in all. Corporal Smith will first travel to Mr Lee's headquarters in l to Mr Lee's headquarters in the Middle East and then he will return to his family later this week. At least 41 people have been killed in a suicide bomb attack on a mosque in northern Afghanistan. Dozens more were wounded in the explosion, which occurred after Eid al-Adha prayers. Five children were among those killed. There has been no immediate claim of responsibility. Syria's much-vaunted Eid al-Adha cease-fire appears to have collapsed, just hours after it began. Rebel forces have accused the regime of bombing residential neighbourhoods in Damascus and at least two other cities around the country. These are the sounds of serious cease-fire. Just hours after it began, for opposition groups say government forces began pounding the besieged city of Homs with mortar fire. At this stage most reports are unconfirmed, but opposition groups have begun uploading internet videos at the rate of one every minute. Many of them show disturbing images of what appeared to be civilians killed in the capital. Rebels say it came under sustained bombing by Assad forces. In the country's north-east, opposition groups say attack helicopters hovered in defiance of the cease-fire. It was a cease-fire the Assad regime announced it would honour on state television the night before. Even then the opposition question that commitment. We do not believe that the Shell al-Assad will be at hearing -- burqa al-Assad will appear to the truce. The President attended prayers this morning.That stage the fragile peace had held for more than three hours. The credibility of the envoy who brokered the deal will now also come under fire. Lakhdar Brahimi will be a magician if he can get this to work. Nobody I have spoken to thinks that there is a chance that this will hold. The government ll hold. The government has a terrible record with errible record with cease-fires.He if they haven't already, rebel fighters who have agreed to the truce will now almost certainly resume fighting. Many different rebel leaders have been saying they do not want to negotiate with a dictator. They want to see him out of Syria.Eid al-Adha may be the Festival of sacrifice, but after 19 months of fighting, for many, lying down their arms is a sacrifice they are not prepared to make.

China's Parliament has taken what some experts are calling one of its most momentous decisions, expelling one of its former rising stars, Bo Xilai. He is now likely to face the full weight of the Chinese legal system. Bo Xilai being stripped of his last official title, now paving the way for criminal charges to be levelled against him. With the expulsion from the Communist Party, he also loses or immunity from prosecution. This now takes the saga of Bo Xilai to the next stage. It also allows China's new leadership to focus on