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The Morning of December 25th: Major Albert Parker Recounts

by ateamwar

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Archive List > British Army

Contributed by 
ateamwar
People in story: 
Major Maurice Albert Parker
Background to story: 
Army
Article ID: 
A4643642
Contributed on: 
01 August 2005

The following story appears courtesy of and with thanks to Ronald Parker and Father
Major Maurice Albert Parker:

"On the morning of December 25th .. I was called to Brigade Headquarters at Stanley Barracks and met with Brigadier Wallis, Colonel Home and Major Price who outlined the plans for an attack on the Japanese troops concentrated in the Stanley Village area. I was given a guide to conduct me and my Company to the Stanley Prison, the start line of my attack. I was to make a frontal advance to occupy the Ridge beyond the cemetery and to retake the Indian Quarters on the right".
Major Parker continues:
"With me, "D" Company officers studied a map of the area and we formulated our plans. Major Browing, a white Indian officer, assisted us with much information we could not have had otherwise. Satisfied, we went out to do the job. Prior to the opening attaack, owing to officer casualties, Sgt. George S. MacDonnell had been placed in charge of No. 18 platoon. His platoon was to attack an objective in St. Stephen's."
Sergeant MacDonnell reports: "Our orders were to attack the left flank of the village and occupy a group of houses which were on the high ground and commanded an excellent field of fire across the whole left flank of the village. Two of my three section leaders had been killed in action , prior to this, and I appointed temporary replacements to lead Nos. 7 and 8 sections.
The attack commenced at about noon. We filed down the west side of the fortress, crouched low and in single file. The sun was hot and it was a bright clear day. The enemy opened up with machine-guns and small caliber artillery. By running and by crawling from rock to rock, we managed to reach an assembly area in the fold of dead-ground, just below and slightly to the south-west of our first objective.
Casualties up to this point were light as our approach route had been well chosen for us... At the assembly point, I spread my platoon out to the left, below and in front of the grave-yard which lay south and slightly west of the houses that were to be our first objective. Heavy firing commenced to my right and I ordered my men to commence firing on the enemy who I could see running to take up positions with light weapons in the grave-yard in front of us.
Either at a prearranged signal or upon orders delivered by runner, I ordered the attack. Since the enemy had a much superior position on the higher ground above us and since they had good cover among the gravestones, I decided we must close quickly or suffer heavy casualties and would quite probably be pinned down; thus exposing the left flank of the Company.
Accordingly, I ordered the men to fix bayonet and charge, which they did with fearful war whoops. Within seconds we were upon the enemy in the grave-yard, with bayonets, submachine guns and Brens fired from the hip.
This maneuver apparently took the enemy by surprise. Our entry into the grave-yard led to a confused melee of hand-to-hand fighting which lasted no more than 3 or 4 minutes at the most. The Japanese were over-run and the grave-yard was cleared.
We then carried on and, driving remnants of the enemy before us, entered into the houses on the high ground. Another close scrape took place as the Japanese stubbornly refused to be evicted. Passing through these houses, we continued on until we ran into a platoon of Japanese who were bunched together and running up to the houses we had just taken. For a second, both groups stopped in surprise but we fired first and literally wiped out the enemy platoon as it stood. This was the deepest point of our penetration in the center of the village.
The ground was no littered with dead, mostly Japanese. Heavy fire was directed upon us and casualties began to mount: we therefore returned to the house to regroup and get some cover. Someone having informed me that Lt. Powers of No. 17 Platoon was killed, I assumed command of whatever of his platoon was with me at the time.
We took up position in and around and began to repel the Jap counter-attack which now developed in some strength. L/Sgt. Lance Ross, with a Lewis gun and Bren, killed at least 20 or 30 of the enemy himself. There was a lull as the Japanese regrouped and then we came under small caliber artillery fire."
Shells began to explode through the roofs and walls of the houses being literally shot to pieces around us. We were in danger of being cut off. I sent the men back in small parties with the corporals, while Lance Ross and I kept on firing until we made a run for the protective wall of Stanley Prison." Major Parker writes: "With my group, I advanced across open ground between the Prison and the ridge, the better to see what success we were having, and met several severely wounded men walking out from both platoons on the left...I saw figures advancing up the slope toward the ridge and thought all was well.
Suddenly the tide turned and there was a great din of fire from the waiting Japs. The walking wounded became a flood, both upon the left and upon the right. The men were falling back."
Sergeant MacDonnell states: "I then reported to the Company Commander for further orders. He told me that we had been ordered back to the Fortress and himself led the way back. I was proud to be a member of "D" Company."
Major Parker summarizes: "Records show that the Company lost 16 killed and 78 wounded in this attack. I gathered up all the men I could find and regrouped...then with 44 sound men and the walking wounded we made our way back to Stanley Barracks. After the surrender, I went forward with a working party and buried our dead. The Japs had built a pier and were cremating theirs. There seemed to be many of them. This was Christmas Day."
Sergeant George MacDonnell was mentioned in dispatches. This citation, written by Major Parker reads: "He led the attack in the face of heavy enemy fire with conspicuous gallantry, being without supporting artillery or machine-gun fire, and showed outstanding qualities of initiative, dash, coolness and leadership under very difficult conditions."
At 15.15 hrs., Gen. Maltby had advised the Governor, Sir Christopher Young, that further resistance was futile and the white flag was hoisted. The attack by "D" Company, which was ordered and launched at noon, lasted until about 19.00 hrs, 4 hours after this surrender.
Rfm. John Beebe, Royal Rifles of Canada, concludes:
At 5 o'clock on the 25th, the Japs called on the Canadians to surrender but our men fought on, outside. Then two hours later, word came through from Brigade Headquarters to cease fighting and the boys turned in their equipment in good order. The Jap Colonel who accepted the surrender told our officers that he had never known men could fight so hard."

Continued...
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