Hidden Belgium: Captain Fryatt’s Memorial

Hidden Belgium: Captain Fryatt’s Memorial

You have to search to find the little memorial park in Bruges next to the law courts. A gate leads into a secret spot once known as the Jardin de l’Aurore.

A line of identical pillars commemorates 13 civilians executed in this park by the German army during World War One. The bullet holes have been left in the brick wall as a permanent memorial to the victims.

Twelve of the civilians were locals. But one was a British man. Captain Charles Fryatt was captain of a Great Eastern Railway steamer called SS Brussels. During the war, the ferry ran between Harwich in England and Rotterdam in the neutral Netherlands.

Fryatt was captured and put on trial in Bruges town hall for attempting to ram a U-boat. He was sentenced to death in the summer of 1916 and shot on 27 July in this hidden spot.

Fryatt was the second British civilian to be executed by the Germans, following Edith Cavell a year earlier. The news caused outrage in Britain and the United States.

After the war, a marble monument was put up in the booking hall at London’s Liverpool Station by the Netherlands section of the League of Neutral States.

There is also a pub in Harwich called The Captain Fryatt and a peak in the Canadian Rockies named Mount Fryatt, not too far from Mount Edith Cavell.

But the park on the edge of Bruges where Captain Fryatt was shot is almost forgotten.

Derek Blyth’s hidden secret of the day: Derek Blyth is the author of the bestselling “The 500 Hidden Secrets of Belgium”. He picks out one of his favourite hidden secrets for The Brussels Times every day.

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