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Last Updated: Friday, 13 June, 2003, 10:11 GMT 11:11 UK
Reunion for sailor saved by enemy
Sam Falle and Shunzo Tagami
Sam Falle and Shunzo Tagami are reunited 50 years after the incident
A war veteran whose ship was blown up in World War II has been reunited with the Japanese man who helped save his life.

Sir Sam Falle, who was held prisoner in Japan, said he would not be alive today but for Shunzo Tagami, who dragged him from the Java Sea.

Bath-based Sir Sam, who subsequently earned his knighthod for services to the diplomatic service, was on board the HMS Encounter when his ship came under attack.

He was in the sea for a day and night and his hopes of surviving began to fade.

But then a Japanese ship appeared on the horizon and the captain took the decision to save the Englishmen.

Mr Tagami, who was part of the rescue operation, came to Bath to visit Sir Sam.

Through an interpreter he said: "We realised it was the many British people we had defeated yesterday.

There were no allied ships in the neighbourhood and so they saved our lives and we are eternally grateful
Sir Sam Falle
"The captain knew we had a choice - whether he can just leave them all or just go and save them, bit of course the captain decided to go and rescue all of them."

Sir Sam said: "The captain gave the order to abandon ship and we jumped into the Java sea.

"Some were in lifeboats, some hanging on to floats and I was lucky enough to be hanging on to a float.

"It's absolutely clear that this ship saved our lives. There were no allied ships in the neighbourhood and so they saved our lives and we are eternally grateful."

Years later Sir Sam wrote of the incident, the article was translated into Japanese and, by chance, Mr Tagami read it.

Since then the pair have been in regular contact, but this was their first meeting since the incident more than 50 years ago.




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