Harwich Born Charles Fryatt joined the Great Eastern Railway as a seaman on the SS Ipswich. In 1913 he was master os SS Newmarket. maintain the route between Harwich and Rotterdam. In 1915 , his ships SS Wrexham and SS Brussels were both attacked by German submarines, the latter entering Rotterdam with burning funnels. For this he was given a watch by the company engraved with the words ” in recognition of the example set by that vessel when attacked by a German submarine on March 28th 1915″.
The SS Brussels , with Fryatt as Master, was pursued by a large U33 submarine, giving him no option but to ram it. A marked man, he was captured in 1916 identified only by the watch he had been presented with. He was charged with what the German Naval High Command considered an illegal act of war, stating “Although not a member of the combat force, he made an attempt on March 28th to ram the submarine U33 near the Maas lighthouse”. He was sentenced and, just two hours later, was shot.
Prime Minister, H.H Asquith, declared “His Majesty’s Government have heard with the utmost indignation of this atrocious crime against the law of nations”. Even the King himself took to writing to his widow
Captain Fryatt was buried at All Saints Church , Upper Dovercourt and posthumously awarded the Belgian Maritime War Cross. A memorial of him can be found at Liverpool Street Station (placed there by the Great Eastern Railway) and the local hospital was re-named the Charles Fryatt Memorial Hospital in his honour.