Rotterdam 10 May 1940

By Peter Sterkenburg

The picture depicts the start of hostilities in the Netherlands in May 1940 with an emphasis on the improvised cooperation between the Royal Netherlands Navy and Marine Corps in the defense of Rotterdam. The signatories represent a very broad group of veterans. . After all, not only the depicted units took part in the battle, but also marines on the Willemsbrug, HNLMS submarines O23 and O24 and HNLMS Van Galen. A  group of sailors from Van Galen even took up arms as infantry, after their ship had capsized due to a German dive bomber attack near Merwedehaven. The picture depicts HNLMS Torpedo Boat Z 5 and HNLMS motor torpedo boat TM 51 shelling German positions near the Maas bridges in Rotterdam, while HNLMS Z 5 is attacked by German bombers.

The prints were signed at the Van Braam Houckgeest Kazerne in Doorn. The painting was unveiled on December 10, 1998 in the VGKZ in Rotterdam by the then Mayor of the City of Rotterdam, Dr. A. Peper, and the then Commander of the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps, Major General E.C. Klop and is currently on loan to the Royal Netherlands Navy. (Mariniersmuseum Rotterdam).

Edition: 400 numbered prints, only the first 125 of which bear the signature of Captain Willem “Bul” de Looze, RMWO4, DSC, RNLN.


‘Old Shipmates’. Captain De Jong BK2 DSC, former Prime Minister of the Netherlands, First Officer of O24 in 1940 (left), and Vice Admiral Van Erkel BL2 DSO, her commanding officer in 1940 (right), chatting during the signing session.


Captain Schreuder BK DSC RNLN (left) explaining HNLMS TM 51’s (later MTB 46) role during the hostilities


A lithograph being presented to Jacques H. Schraven (right), then CEO of Shell Nederland B.V., by Captain (Eng) H.J. Bouvy BL RNLN and SME’s Board, at Shell Headquarters, Rotterdam

The 15 signatories are:
Royal Netherlands Navy
  • Captain (Eng) H.J. Bouvy BL
  • Vice Admiral G.B.M. van Erkel NL ON BL2 KV DSO
  • WO1 MEM P. Haringa BK DSM
  • Captain P.J.S. de Jong BK2 DSC (former Prime Minister of the Netherlands)
  • Commander A.G.L. van der Land BL
  • Captain W.A. de Looze RMWO ON DSC MID
  • PO SC A. van Mastbergen BK
  • Captain J.A. Schreuder BK DSC
  • Captain J.C.A. Siliacus BK
  • PO Wtr L.F. Slopsma BK MID
  • Commander J. van Staveren RMWO4
Royal Netherlands Marine Corps
  • Lieutenant-Colonel T. Jonkman BK KV
  • Captain A. Loontjens BK, Chévalier de la Légion d’Honneur
  • Ploos, former Marine 3rd Class
  • Sergeant G. Poldervaart BK2

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