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Brigadier Lawson's Headquarters Under Attack

by ateamwar

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People in story: 
Major Maurice Albert Parker
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Contributed on: 
01 August 2005

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

Still later that day, as the Japanese under the command of Colonel Shoji Toshishga drove onwards to the South, Brigadier Lawson decided to move his Headquarters to a new location, but before he did, his headquarters group was surrounded. The Japanese were firing straight into the shelter where Lawson was located. A company of the Royal Scots made a brave attempt to help the Grenadiers break free, but less than a dozen Scots managed to fight their way through, and it was too late. Brigadier Lawson reported to "Fortress Headquarters" that they were "going outside to fight it out with the Japs". Pistols in hand and accompanied by his Chief Staff Officer, Col. P. Hennesy and a Royal Rifles intelligence officer named Woodside, he ran out the door towards "Fortress Headquarters". The Japanese cut the three of them down with machine-gun fire and they died instantly.
In Ottawa, another communiqué from Hong Kong had advised the Minister of Defense, Hon. J.L. Ralston of Lawson's death and he made the difficult announcement to the Canadian public. He had been advised in a situation report "that Brigadier J.K. Lawson and Senior Staff Officer, Col. P. Hennessy had been killed by shell fire".
The West Brigade was without a commanding officer until the next day, December 20th, when Colonel H.B. Rose, a Hong Kong Volunteer Defense Corps officer, was appointed.
Meanwhile the East Brigade were without any artillery support. They had lost their light Mobile guns in the withdrawal westward from Mount Parker, and the situation was getting worse by the minute. East Brigade and West Brigade were all but separated when the Japanese cut the island in half on a line running North/South, as they captured Jardine's Lookout then headed South towards Repulse Bay. The line which the Japanese occupied that separated East from West Brigade was just about along the lines that Maltby had drawn up in his redistribution plan.
This is the 'disaster' that Major Maurice Parker mentions in his memoirs. The Japanese pincers were rapidly closing around the defenders.

'This story was submitted to the People’s War site by BBC Radio Merseyside’s People’s War team on behalf of the author and has been added to the site with his / her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.'

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