Scots veteran who survived Nagasaki dies aged 97

A Scots veteran who survived the Nagasaki atomic bomb has died aged 97.

Monday, 10th October 2016, 12:13 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 7:25 pm
Alistair Urquhart, a Gordon Highlanders veteran who survived Nagasaki, has died aged 97. PIC Little Brown publishing/David Martin/Fotopress.

Alistair Urquhart, originally from Aberdeen, was conscripted to the Gordon Highlanders at the age of 20 and was captured by the Imperial Japanese Army in February 1942 in Singapore, just weeks after arriving in the Far East.

After enduring 900 miles on a sweltering and packed train, he was forced to walk the last 100 miles of the journey to his Prisoner of War camp.

Mr Urquhart spoke openly of the severe beatings and punishments he endured while working on the Burma Railway.

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The veteran told of whippings with pieces of bamboo, jungle abscesses and prisoners being forced to stand in the sun with a rock over their head.

As prisoner, he was fed one small tea cup of rice a day.

In 1944, he was loaded onto the Kachidoki Maru, an American passenger and cargo boat known as the “hell ship” given its role in transporting hundreds of prisoners.

The boat was torpedoed by a US submarine with Urquhart badly burned during the explosion. For five days, he floated without food or water and was eventually rescued by a Japanese whaling ship.

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He was in a labour camp around 10 miles from Nagasaki when the atomic bomb was dropped on August 9 1945.

Mr Urquhart maintained the bomb actually saved his life as it destroyed the plot to massacre Prisoners of War - an expedited the end of WWII.

Mr Urquhart, latterly of Broughty Ferry, recounted his experiences in his book The Forgotten Highlander: One Man’s Incredible Story Of Survival During The War In The Far East.

Following his father’s death, Mr Urquhart’s son, Philip, said: “My father passed away peacefully with his family and friends around him on Friday.

“He only moved into the care home in February having looked after himself up to the age of 96 and he was happy there.

“He was 97 when he died so we cannot say he did not have a full life.