John ‘Olly’ Scarrott
02/09/1947 - 31/10/2015
Olly sadly passed away on the 31st October 2015. His funeral service was held at the Catholic Church of St. Thomas of Canterbury, Cowes, Isle of Wight on Thursday 19th November 2015. It was a fitting tribute with a RM Guard of Honour and bugler who played the Last Post.
A group from Olly's original marine recruit intake attended. Eulogies were read including one by NG (MM) a friend and former member of 22 SAS Regiment with references to Olly's military service and contribution to the Croatian defence.
Thank you to all who communicated their condolences which I passed on to the Scarrott family who asked me to send you their gratitude. I also had the honour of attending and conveying condolences to the family from Croatia including a written tribute from the Croatian Defence Force (HOS) founder and wartime Supreme Commander on behalf of the Association of HOS soldiers; a retired Croatian Special Forces Brigadier; and our surviving former team member, Ali Allouche.
Olly’s personal qualities were by no means limited merely to military activity. An independent thinker, he judged an individual by their actual actions not by preconception or prejudice.
Sympathising with the defence case of General Ante Gotovina, he participated in the complex and prolonged counter-intelligence battle supportive to this. He deplored racism in all its forms, would not be swayed by the crowd if he believed they were wrong and actively countered any form of bullying or terrorising of the weak or defenceless. He was a credit to his family and people.
Despite suffering from an agonising terminal illness, Olly endured until the end in typical courageous fashion and without complaint.
He will be remembered not with sadness, but respect.
Rest In Peace Oppo.
The following article, published in Hrvatsko Pravo, was written by the present author in December 2011:
John ‘Olly’ Scarrott is one of the forgotten defenders of Croatia. Recently diagnosed with terminal Motor-Neurone disease, his story and contribution to the defence of Croatia can finally be told.
The tall broad-shouldered Englishman, known by his fellow fighters as 'Olly', was a professional soldier with extensive combat experience. He joined the Royal Marines as a 16-year old, was Para-trained, served with 40, 41 and 42 Commando, and saw action during the Borneo and Malayan wars. He subsequently worked as a deep sea diver and later a military adviser on oil and gas tankers during the Iran/Iraq war.
When the Serbian aggression commenced against Croatia and the world looked away ‘Olly’ Scarrott felt morally compelled to assist. With a wife, family, and successful career, he chose to risk his life and defend the Croatian people.
Arriving in October 1991 during the critical defence against the Rebel Serb and JNA general offensive, ‘Olly’ reported to the Croatian Defence Forces HQ at Starcevicev Dom and joined a unit of other professional foreign volunteers. He was then based in Plesmo on the southwest Novska battlefield with the Ante Paradžik Company under the command of Milan Špoljarević (KIA 1995) and participated in a number of operations against the Serb forces near Drenov Bok.
Ali Allouche and I first met ‘Olly’ on November 12th 1991 at Starcevicev Dom a few days following the Rajčići operations with Ante Gotovina and the Tiger Brigade. The Croatian frontline positions at Drenov Bok had suffered casualties with 4 killed and 23 wounded and needed re-enforcements and a morale boost. ‘Olly’ took Ali and I under his wing and the following day we proceeded to Plesmo. Daily operations commenced that dark evening with a mortar attack.Several of the team, including Thomas Crowley (KIA 1995) were placed in their observation position and ‘Olly’ and I were driven to an exposed field located 100m behind the Croatian sangars. The Serbs had spotted our approach and opened fire with machine-gun, lighting the sky with tracer-rounds. The Croatian bunkers returned fire and a machine-gun duel commenced. We dismounted, offloaded the equipment, and the driver rapidly departed as the incoming fire intensified, piercing the air above us. We lay on our backs motionless staring at the night stars and tracer-fire for sometime, contemplating the seriousness of our predicament and the unlikely possibility of the driver returning. ‘Olly’ then mentioned Vukovar, calmly arose to his feet, and ignoring the incoming fire, assembled the mortar, told me to proceed with the Fire Control orders via my Motorola radio, and mortar bombed the enemy positions. Sometime later we heard the sound of a vehicle approaching and watched as the HOS driver returned through the field against enemy fire and rescued us. The bravery I witnessed by ‘Olly’ and the driver that evening is something I will treasure for the rest of my life.
On November 18th 1991, the day Vukovar fell to Serb forces, we conducted a reconnaissance patrol close to the Serb line by the water Pumping Station near the Drenov Bok-Jasenovac Road. On entering a minefield we were ambushed by elements of the 11th Partisan Brigade. Allouche was badly wounded by sniper-fire and mine explosion and Špoljarević sustained a sniper wound shortly after. A battle erupted and we were eventually rescued by the arrival of HOS re-enforcements. As I evacuated the wounded Allouche to the Kutina field hospital, ‘Olly’ and Tom Crowley formed the rearguard defence.
Several days later Dobroslav Paraga was arrested in Zagreb. Our team, including ‘Olly’, returned to Starcevicev Dom and helped fortify and defend the HQ against attack before returning to the frontline.
At the signing of the Sarajevo ceasefire, with the Serbian aggression halted and Croatia’s independence sealed, the unit was disbanded. We shook hands and said goodbye outside Starcevicev Dom and I watched ‘Olly’ walk away to his train at Glavni kolodvor. We remained in contact, and he stood by me, all through the years regardless of any political or ideological differences. John ‘Olly’ Scarrott is a man who I am proud to call a friend and comrade, and whose name and actions deserve recognition.
A. Mac C.. 25/12/2011.
Isle of Wight County Press, 4.12.2015, Obituaries, p61
Mr John Oliver Scarrott
A FORMER Royal Marine commando, who voluntarily fought with the Croatians during the Yugoslav wars of the early Nineties, John Oliver Scarrott, has died, aged 68, following a long illness, on October 31.
Known as Olly, he joined the Royal Marines when he was 16 and served with 40, 41 and 42 Commando for ten years.
As a Commando, he saw action in Borneo and Malaysia and did two tours of Northern Ireland at the height of the troubles.
Born in East Ham, London, Mr Scarrott was a deep sea diver and a military adviser on oil and gas tankers during the Eighties’ Iran-Iraq War.
When war broke out in the Balkans and shocked by news of ethnic cleansing against the Croatians, Mr Scarrott joined other professional foreign volunteer fighters there to fight Serbian forces.
Attached to the Ante Paradžik Company of the Croatian Defence Forces, he took part in numerous operations.
During one operation in Plesmo, in November 1991, friend and fellow fighter Antaine Mac Coscair, described his bravery during a machine-gun battle.
“Contemplating the seriousness of our predicament, Olly calmly got to his feet, ignored incoming fire, assembled the mortar and bombed the enemy positions,” he said.
“The bravery I witnessed by Olly that evening is something I’ll treasure for the rest of my life.”
After six months, once Croatia’s independence was sealed in January 1992, he returned home.
Mr Scarrott, of Old Road, East Cowes, married Island-born nurse, Sonia Jones, at St. Faith’s Church, Cowes, in 1975.
During his final years, he extensively researched the causes of motor neurone disease, which claimed his life.
His funeral was held at St Thomas of Cantebury Church, Cowes, and featured a Royal Marine guard of honour with bugler, a group from Mr Scarrott’s original marine recruit intake and a eulogy read by a friend and former member of 22 SAS Regiment.
He was interred at Fernhill Park, Wootton Creek.
His wife received written tributes from a retired Croatian special forces Brigadier and the founder of the former Croatian Defence Force.
Mr Scarrott is survived by his wife, son Alexander, daughter Ruth, three sisters and two brothers.