The real Manchurian Candidate

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The colonel who commanded one of the Army's most famous feats of arms was a real-life Manchurian Candidate, brainwashed by communists to return home and create confusion in Britain.

Lt Col James Power "Fred" Carne, the commander of the 1st Bn Gloucestershire Regt (the Glorious Glosters) at the battle of Imjin, Korea, in April 1951, fell into Chinese captivity after his 700-man battalion's astonishing resistance against an estimated 11,000 attackers was finally overcome.

Lt Col Carne won the VC for his role at Imjin. As the senior British officer among hundreds of prisoners kept in appalling conditions in camps in communist-held Korea, he was singled out for special treatment.

While the other ranks were "re-educated" by the communist commissars at their camps, Lt Col Carne was kept in solitary confinement and subjected to treatment later to be fictionalised in two film versions of The Manchurian Candidate, one starring Frank Sinatra and the remake with Denzil Washington.

John Frankenheimer, the director of the 1962 version, said at the time that none of the brainwashing inflicted on American troops in Korea approached what had been portrayed in his film.

In his version a GI is programmed by his communist captors to return home as an assassin. Lt Col Carne was programmed by Chinese commissars, but not with such a violent end in sight.

According to documents just released at the National Archives in Kew, Lt Col Carne was released in September 1953 after two and half years' imprisonment and told Sir Esler Dening, the British ambassador in Tokyo, "an extraordinary story".

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