Service to mark war hero's death

THE grandson of one of Harwich's heroes was in town yesterday to pay tribute to his ancestor.Julian Luckett, who lives in London, was attending a special exhibition to mark the 90th anniversary of the execution of Captain Charles Fryatt, who was shot by the Germans in July 1916.

By Sharon Asplin

THE grandson of one of Harwich's heroes was in town yesterday to pay tribute to his ancestor.

Julian Luckett, who lives in London, was attending a special exhibition to mark the 90th anniversary of the execution of Captain Charles Fryatt, who was shot by the Germans in July 1916.

Capt Fryatt was a resident of Harwich and master of the SS Brussels sailing between Harwich and the Hook of Holland.


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In 1915 he attempted to ram a German U-boat during a crossing and, when captured by the Germans a year later, was court-martialled and shot in Bruges, in spite of being a non combatant.

The execution caused a national outrage, with anger being expressed in Parliament. After the war, Capt Fryatt received a state funeral in St Paul's Cathedral, attended by members of the Royal family.

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Honorary archivists to Harwich Town Council, Roy Plummer and Anne Kemp-Luck, used the council's extensive archive, along with other significant material obtained both locally and from the continent, to fully research the captain's life and times.

The exhibition at The Guildhall - part of the Harwich Festival - featured photographs, documents and memorabilia relating to Capt Fryatt and SS Brussels.

Chairman of the council's Guildhall committee, Garry Calver, said: “Captain Fryatt is immensely important to Harwich. Ray Plummer and Anne Kemp-Luck have devoted a remarkable amount of time and effort to research and stage this exhibition and it raises a number of new issues concerning exactly what did occur at the time.”

Mr Luckett, the son of Capt Fryatt's last surviving daughter Dorothy, said: “My mother was three years old when he died and can barely remember him. But at the age of 93, she is the last one surviving of his seven children so gradually all the pieces of family memorabilia have come down to her.

“I have considerable interest in him as a man. My grandmother did not want to talk about it at all but the children grew up with it and his story was passed on to us.”

Ironically, Mr Luckett heard about the exhibition from a cousin in Australia who still has friends in East Anglia. He contacted Mr Plummer and provided copies of letters and other memorabilia for the exhibition. Most of the original documents, medals and watches have been given to the Imperial War Museum in London.

A road and pub in Harwich are named after the hero, and Harwich Hospital is called the Captain Fryatt Memorial Hospital, the proceeds of the scrap value of the SS Brussels being donated as a contribution to its original cost.

n A church service will take place in All Saints' Church in Dovercourt, where the captain is buried, at 7pm on July 27. There will also be a commemoration service in Bruges on the same day.

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