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Colonel P.W. Scharroo - may 1940

The former garrisson commander of Rotterdam Lieutenant-Colonel Gaillard had been succeeded by Colonel P.W. Scharroo - of the engineers corps - in March 1940. Colonel Pieter Wilhelmus Scharroo [1883-1963] was a very capable technical officer, and also a well known member of the National [1915-1929] and International Olympic Committee [1924-1957]. As a military engineer Scharroo was a reputed concrete-technician, also contributing to civil engineering. He was (in the early twenties) closely related to the design and construction of the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam, that - first used in 1928 during the Olympic Games in The Netherlands - still today is used for sports activities. He was also a prominent member of the organisation committee of the 1928 Games.

The Colonel was garrisson commander of one of the most important cities of the country, but in the understanding that his garrisson would not get in the first line, let alone from the first minute of the war. He would however turn out to be the most active Dutch 'field' commander of the May War, for his garrisson would be in the line of fire from the first bullet fired until almost the last bomb dropped. Scharroo proved himself a capable officer. When the German Luftwaffe had carpet-bombed Rotterdam - notwithstanding the fact that negotiations were ongoing about a possible capitulation of Rotterdam - Scharroo strongly and blundly protested to the German commanding general [Generalleutnant Schmidt], and later refused to be present during the official capitulation talks in Rotterdam.

Colonel Scharroo is highly decorated as a civilian, mostly due to his extended period as an IOC member. Amazingly he was never awarded any Dutch military medal, although his performance and leadership during the five days battle for Rotterdam is generally recognized! Plenty of soldiers of the Dutch army got decorations for valor and leadership under fire for much less. Colonel Scharroo did however receive the following decorations:

  • Ridder in de Orde van de Nederlandse Leeuw [Dutch civil order]
  • Officier in de Orde van Oranje-Nassau [Dutch civil order]
  • Officier in de Orde van Leopold II [Belgium civil order]
  • Officer in the Order of Restored Poland [Polish civil order]
  • Officer in the Order of the White Lion [Tsjech civil order]
  • Officer in the Italian Crown Order [Italian civil order]
  • Officer in the Military Order of Christ [Portugese military order]
  • Knight 1st Class in the Order of the Swedish sword [Swedish civil order]
  • Chevalier de Ordre d'Honneur [French civil and military order]
  • Sign of honor of the German Red Cross 2nd Class [German civil order]
  • Medal 3rd Class of the Prusian Red Cross [German civil order]

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