Charles Algernon Fryatt, Master of the Great Eastern Steamship S.S. Brussels, illegally executed by the Germans at Bruges

Interview summary and photographs


    • [The interview was conducted by Age Exchange in partnership with The University of Essex and The First World War Centre –University of Hertfordshire –as part of the Children of The Great War project.] Charles Fryatt was a merchant seaman for the Great Eastern Railway based at Harwich. On 3 March 1915 Captain Fryatt’s ship SS Wrexham was attacked by a German U-Boat, which he outran to arrive at Rotterdam; for this he was presented with a gold watch by Great Eastern Railway. Following a second unsuccessful attack on SS Colchester, Charles Fryatt was captain of SS Brussels when, on 28 March, he was ordered to stop by U-33. He refused and tried to ram the U-Boat forcing it to crash dive; for this action he was awarded a gold watch by the Admiralty, and praised in Parliament. He then became a target for the German Navy... On 25 June 1916 five German destroyers surrounded the SS Brussels. Fryatt and his crew were taken to an internment camp and interrogated. He was tried at a Court Martial at Bruges Town Hall and was found guilty of franc-tireur – a civilian engaged in hostile military activity. Charles Fryatt was executed by firing squad on 27 July 1916. King George V expressed his indignation and abhorrence in a letter to Mrs Fryatt, the British Prime Minister condemned the action, and there was an international outcry. Soldiers chalked his name on artillery shells, post cards, songs, films and stamps popularised these feelings. After the war Fryatt’s body was exhumed and brought back to England in the same train carriage used for Edith Cavell, and later to be used for the Unknown Soldier. His funeral was held at St Paul’s Cathedral, then his body was buried at All Saints’ Church, Upper Dovercourt, Essex, where there is now the Captain Fryatt Memorial Hospital. Great Eastern Railway unveiled a memorial tablet at Liverpool Street station in 1917. In the interview Louise continues with the story of his widow, and her concern that the name Fryatt would attract retaliation. [ A joint project between Age Exchange, the University of Essex and the Everyday Lives in War FWW Engagement Centre, University of Herts. For further information, please contact Everyday Lives in War, https://everydaylivesinwar.herts.ac.uk/]




  • Date:

    • 1915-03-03
  • Temporal:

    • 2015-08-25 11:22:03 UTC
  • Place/Time:

    • Naval Warfare


  • Source:

    • User contributed content
  • Identifier:

    • 20093
  • Institution:

  • Provider:

  • Providing country:

  • First published in Europeana:

    • 2016-07-27
  • Last updated in Europeana:

    • 2016-07-27


  • Rights:

    • http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/

References and relations


  • Location:

    • #51.2092334,3.2249901000000136
  • Place/Time:

    • Naval Warfare
Longitude: "3.2249901"
Latitude: "51.209232"

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