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Captain Charles Algernon Fryatt - Memorial

Tuesday 5th September 2017

On Sunday 3 September, Chairman Billy and Secretary Val were among invited guests at a ceremony in Southampton, and reception afterwards, to honour a Southampton born hero from the First World War. Captain Charles Algernon Fryatt was born in Southampton in 1871 (not 1872) and attended Freemantle School, later moving away with his family. On 28 March 1915, he was a Merchant Navy Captain with Great Eastern Railway Company in command of SS Brussels. His ship was ordered to stop by a German U-Boat. Captain Fryatt ordered full steam ahead, directly at the submarine which made an emergency dive. Through this action, Captain Fryatt saved his ship and those on board. However, in June 1916, SS Brussels was stopped by German destroyers and captured with captain, crew and passengers. On 27 July, Captain Fryatt was court martialled at Bruges, accused of attempting to sink a submarine, found guilty and executed by firing squad the same day. His body was repatriated after the war, honoured in London and buried at Dovercourt, near Harwich. On 3 September 2017, during the annual Merchant Navy Day Service arranged by Solent Branch of the Association, a plaque in Holy Rood Church on Southampton’s High Street – the Merchant Navy church – was dedicated by Port Chaplain John Attenborough. This was in the presence of a good number of members of the Fryatt family, the most senior of whom was the captain’s nephew, Leslie Fryatt. Leslie’s father accompanied the coffin when the captain’s body was repatriated. Poignantly, the flag that had draped the coffin, on its journey in 1919, was displayed at the dedication. The Southampton memorial was engraved by Allstone of Shirley, who donated the piece of stone used. The Fryatt Plaque Committee comprised Peter (Chairman) and Rex Fryatt (both Great Great Nephews), Lona Fryatt, (well known for her dedicated work with Southampton Cenotaph Families and Friends), John Avery (Treasurer) and Geoff Watts (Secretary). John and Geoff, two of the founders of FoSOC are both Honorary Members of our Friends group. This is the first time that a memorial, specifically dedicated to Captain Fryatt, has been provided in a publicly accessible location in Southampton. Donations were received from people locally and further away. Over the weekend Mark Baker brought his excellent Captain Fryatt exhibition to the Masonic Hall, Southampton, a wonderful archive of the story. Many thanks to Ann MacGillivray for her kind contribution of the Fryatt photos. ‘Fryatt family with Union Jack’ courtesy of Jill Ghanouni. Footnote; Southampton's Old Cemetery is the last resting place of John Algernon Fryatt, Captain Fryatt’s brother and eldest of 7 siblings. Also buried there is Bessie Sophia, younger sister of both John and Charles.