CPT Charles Algernon Fryatt

CPT Charles Algernon Fryatt

Southampton, Southampton Unitary Authority, Hampshire, England
Death 27 Jul 1916 (aged 44)
Bruges, Arrondissement Brugge, West Flanders (West-Vlaanderen), Belgium
Burial Dovercourt, Tendring District, Essex, England
Memorial ID 20325 · View Source
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British Maritime Hero. He was the hero and victim of one of the most extraordinary episodes of World War One. He was a captain of the mercantile and passenger fleet of the Great North Eastern Railway. During the war, he made many crossings in the face of great danger from mines and submarines, and was renowned for his expertise in these circumstances. Within months, his ship had been attacked three times by the German U-boats. The first was on March 2, 1915, when a German U-boat attacked his ship, the "Wrexham", causing it to badly burn before reaching port. In recognition of this amazing task, the Great Eastern Railway presented Fryatt with a gold watch inscribed: "Presented to Captain C. A. Fryatt, by the Chairman and Directors of the G.E Railway Company as a mark of their appreciation of his courage and skillful seamanship on March 2nd, 1915". A couple of weeks later, a second encounter with the German U-boat happened while he was the captain of the "SS Colchester"; his father had been a first mate on this ship years before. On March 28, 1915, his ship, the "S.S. Brussels" was attacked by a German U-boat. From past experiences, he realized that the U-boat could overtake his ship before land could be reached. He therefore took the bold step of attempting to ram the U-boat, steering straight for it, and firing off rockets as if armed. This action was done following the order of Winston Churchill, who was the 1st Lord of the Admiralty to captains of merchant ships; these orders included treating the crews of U-boats as "felons and not prisoners-of-war and white flags were to be ignored". For his actions, the captain was presented with a certificate on vellum by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty and was also praised in the House of Commons. A fourth encounter with the German Navy was not successful as the Germans were determined on revenge. On June 22, 1916 the "Brussels" was surrounded by German warships and the crew interned. He was taken to Bruges, Belgium, court-martialed, although a civilian non-combatant, and sentenced to death. This was against the rules of war and despite the protests of neutral nations, he was shot to death. In 1919, his body was reburied with full honors in the United Kingdom at All Saints' Church, Upper Dovercourt. His widow was presented with the insignia of the Belgian Order of Leopold that had been posthumously awarded to Fryatt; he was also posthumously awarded the Belgian Maritime War Cross. Other honors include: Captain Fryatt Memorial Hospital in Dovercourt , a public house in nearby Parkestone named for him, an Alberta Canadian mountain commemorative of Mount Fryatt,and the Brussels Peak was named after his ship. At the London terminus, there is a memorial placed by the Great North Eastern Railway.

Bio by: Linda Davis

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In memory of Captain Charles Algernon
master of the Great North Eastern Railway Steamship "Brussels"

illegally executed by Germans at Bruges on the 27th of July 1916.

Erected by the company as an expression of their admiration of his gallantry.




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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 21 Feb 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 20325
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for CPT Charles Algernon Fryatt (2 Dec 1871–27 Jul 1916), Find A Grave Memorial no. 20325, citing All Saints Churchyard, Dovercourt, Tendring District, Essex, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .