|Died||1942 (aged 49-50)
|Unit||Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry|
|Commands held||12th Indian Infantry Brigade
11th Indian Infantry Division
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Paris passed out of the Royal Military College, Sandhurst and was commissioned into the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in 1909. He married Ruth Norton. He served in the First World War, and was awarded the Military Cross (MC) in 1917.
Although he is better known for having died during the events that followed the sinking of the Dutch ship Rooseboom off Sumatra in 1942, he was also one of the few British commanders that put up a good fight against the Japanese during the Battle of Malaya and the subsequent fall of Singapore.
Battle of Malaya
In December 1941, Paris was in command of the Indian 12th Infantry Brigade, part of the Singapore Garrison. When the battle started in Northern Malaya, Paris's 12th Brigade was sent to protect the retreat of the Indian 11th Infantry Division, which it did successfully, to the extent that it surprised the Japanese, inflicting high casualties on some of their more overconfident units.
When Lieutenant-General Arthur Percival sacked Major-General David Murray-Lyon from command of the 11th Indian Division, Paris was given temporary command, until the disastrous Battle of Slim River, when Major-General Billy Key took over and Paris resumed command of the 12th Brigade. Paris commanded the 12th Brigade throughout the retreat down Malaya and the subsequent battles on Singapore.
With Singapore about to surrender in February 1942, Percival attempted to save personnel who were successful at fighting the Japanese and Paris was one of the chosen. He escaped aboard the Dutch ship Rooseboom, which was sunk off Sumatra. Although he survived the sinking along with about 80 other passengers in one lifeboat, he did not survive the shocking 28-day ordeal of drifting 100 miles. There were only five survivors.
This account of the struggle for survival after the sinking of the Rooseboom was based on survivor and Argyll and Sutherland Highlander Walter Gibson's book The Boat:
|“||On the third night out from Padang a torpedo struck the Rooseboom, which very soon capsized and sank, taking most of her 500 passengers with her and leaving only one lifeboat seaworthy. This boat, designed to hold 28, was now occupied by 80 of the 135 who had survived the sinking. The remainder clung to lifelines and floating debris.
The senior surviving soldier, Brigadier Paris, took charge of discipline in the boat, while informing the survivors that the Dutch captain of the Rooseboom, who had also survived, was in overall command. The best of discipline was futile in the face of the privations that now ensued. Men and women went mad with thirst. Many threw themselves overboard rather than face further suffering.
- Gibson's obituary, The Times, 27 April 2005
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