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Real life British Bond in Andamans!

Written by: Staff
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Port Blair, May 3: He never drove a BMW down the narrow streets of Andaman Islands. Neither did he ever dare to ride a boat at break-neck speed.

But McCarthy has proven to be the real life 'Bond' sent to Andaman by the British Empire during World War II.

McCarthy, was the British Commandant and Superintendent of Police in the pre-war era. He was the last to depart from and the first to return to Andamans after the Japanese Occupation(1942-1945).

The lesser known 007 Bond story of McCarthy is full of thrills, excitement and adventure. His aim was to defeat the Japanese forces in Andaman and his mission was coded 'Operation Baldhead'.

When the Japanese forces captured the Islands during World War II, McCarthy along with his perfectly coordinated spy network, almost single-handedly brought about the downfall of the Nippon Empire in these islands.

He was the first to spot the Japanese Airforce surveillance plane hovering low over Port Blair on January 1, 1942.

In the beginning of 1942, he had befriended Loka, a tribal headman, said Mr Govind Raju, a poet, writer and a prominent islander of Andaman.

In the company of Loka, McCarthy, a legendary master spy, began making trips to the coastal areas, all around Port Blair and nearby islands taking note of the varying terrains, serpentine creeks, beaches, lagoons, safe landing spots and other distinguishing features.

According to some rare books on Andaman History, in October 1942, when the the Islands were under Japanese occupation, RW Scott, former Assistant Commissioner of Nicobar, called him at the Military headquarters in Simla and discussed 'Operation Baldhead', a secret surveillance, reconnaissance and espionage mission to the Andaman Islands.

Due to his close contact with the people and intimate knowledge of the terrains, coastlines, serpentine creeks and familiarity with general location of villages and the people McCarthy learned the job hands on.

As was the practice in running spy networks under Allied forces, McCarthy was given the option to select his team. He chose Sergeant Dickens, a British wireless and telegraph operator, Jamadar Habib Shah, Havildar Gyan Singh and two former forest workers Joseph Bakla and his cousin Peter. The team was put through extensive training.

The contingent disembarked on a Dutch submarine 024 at a desolate place on the West Coast of Middle Andaman on January 18, 1943.

The British Spy developed a good network in Andaman with the help of tribal leaders and local residents. As his network continued successfully, the miseries of the Japanese regime kept increasing.

The killing of hundreds of Japanese soldiers on Burmanallah/ Rangachang beach by firing from a suddenly surfacing submarine, pin-pointed bombardment on ships at harbour, successful sinking of every ship that sailed for Port Blair was beyond the comprehension of the Japanese military rulers.

Japanese forces suffered heavy damage of life and property.

It was all made possible by intelligence provided by McCarthy, Madan Mohan Singh, an ex-official of All India Radio, Port Blair, the historian told UNI in Port Blair.

According to Madan Mohan Singh, ''When McCarthy could not be found, the Japanese forces started killing innocent people, suspecting them to be British spies.

''The well-educated mass and the Sikh community were their mainly targetted since a Sikh was once seen with McCarthy,'' Mr Singh added.

However, there were conflicts among historians regarding McCarthy's presence in the Islands. Some historians claim that he was seen several times in these islands when his British Submarine landed in these islands.

Meanwhile, others like Rabin Roychowdhury were of the opinion that he had come only once to these islands for gathering intelligence.

In his book 'Black Days in Andaman and Nicobar Islands' Mr Roychowdhury, wrote: ''McCarthy had landed only once in these islands.'' Raju, also found out a place, known in the olden days as Signalpahar, from where McCarthy used to send signals to the British forces.

''One must visit the place, from where one could get a good view of Port Blair city and monitor movements of ships and boats. We must remember that during World War II, there were no sophisticated instrument to sent signal and one must find out a open place like Signal Pahar to transmit clear message,'' Raju told UNI.

Madan Mohan Singh also believed that McCarthy had come to these islands repeatedly with the help of tribal leader and villagers.

Many a times, McCarthy's footprints were traced by Japanese Forces and things became clear when some aides of McCarthy were arrested by the Japanese, who revealed that it was McCarthy who was coming in and out of these islands for gathering intelligence, time and again,'' Mr Singh added.

In at least two occasions, McCarthy was surrounded by Japanese soldiers but like real life Bond, he escaped tricking Jap soldiers but not before killing many of them with his sophisticated automatic weapons.

McCarthy could not have achieved such stupendous success in running a perfect spy ring solely with the assistance of an Andamanese and a few local residents.

''There must have been many more in the network whose names are yet to be revealed. It appears Ms Hari Kishen, Hari Ram and Shiekh Alam apart from a few others still alive; know much more about McCarthy's spy ring and the active participants who fed him with minute information. But they desist from revealing the whole truth, maybe, for fear of hurting the feelings of local people involved in the ring or their relatives,'' said Govind Raju.

McCarthy's life is the stuff Hollywood movies are made of - fast, thrilling and edge of the chair suspense, which need much deeper study and evaluation.

UNI

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