Document of the Month April 2014: Papers relating to repatriation and reburial of remains of Captain Fryatt, 1919 (D/P 174/1/83)

Each month in the Searchroom a new Document of the Month goes on display. The DoTM for April 2014 is a set of four papers relating to the repatriation and reburial of Captain Fryatt in 1919 (D/P 174/1/83).

Charles Algernon Fryatt was born in Southampton in 1871, but while still a child moved to Harwich. On leaving school he followed his father’s example and became a merchant seaman and in 1892 joined the Great Eastern Railway Company as a seaman on the SS Ipswich. He rose through the ranks and at the outbreak of the First World War was a master mariner engaged in the G. E. R. continental service between Harwich and Rotterdam. He continued to make regular voyages on this route despite the German blockade.

On 28 March 1915, while in command of the SS Brussels he was ordered to stop by a German U-Boat when near the Maas lightvessel. Seeing that the U-Boat had surfaced to torpedo his ship, he attempted to ram it and forced it to crash-dive.

Thereafter he seems to have become a ‘marked man’ and on the 25 June 1916 the Brussels and her crew were waylaid and captured by five German destroyers soon after leaving Holland for the return journey to Harwich. Captain Fryatt was charged with attempting to destroy a German submarine and was tried by Court Martial at Bruges Town Hall in Belgium on 27 July 1916. He was found guilty and executed on the same day. The execution provoked international outrage and was widely regarded as murder.

In July 1919 Captain Fryatt’s body was exhumed from its resting place in a small cemetery outside Bruges and returned to the United Kingdom for reburial. After a funeral service in St. Paul’s Cathedral on 8 July 1919, his coffin was taken by train to Dovercourt and interred in All Saints’ churchyard. He was posthumously awarded the Belgian Order of Leopold and the Belgian Maritime War Cross.

He was survived by his widow Ethel and seven children.

The papers will be on display in the Searchroom throughout April 2014.

Papers relating to the repatriation of the remains of Capt. Charles Fryatt from Bruges to Dovercourt (D/P 174/1/83)

Papers relating to the repatriation of the remains of Capt. Charles Fryatt from Bruges to Dovercourt (D/P 174/1/83)

First World War centenary – more useful resources

Earlier in the year we published a list of useful resources for those researching aspects of the First World War, which you can find here. There are new resources appearing all the time, so we thought we would share some more with you.


The British Library

The British Library have recently launched their fantastic First World War web pages, using which you can explore over 500 historical sources from across Europe, together with new insights from First World War experts. The web pages include nearly 500 historical sources from both sides of the conflict, contributed by institutions from across Europe, specially commissioned articles from historians, and resources for teachers. The pages cover a huge range of different themes, from the origins of the war, to the lives of soldiers, to propaganda, to historical debates.

You can find the World War One resource here:


The National Archives

The National Archives hold the official UK government records of the First World War, including a vast collection of letters, diaries, maps and photographs. You can explore these collections and advice on how to use them on TNA’s First World War web pages. You will also find details of their extensive programme of events marking the centenary.


Middlesex military service appeal tribunal records, 1916-1918

The National Archives have recently digitised the records of the Middlesex military tribunal appeals from 1916-1918. When conscription was introduced in 1916, men could apply to a local military tribunal for exemption, and could appeal against a local decision to the county appeal tribunal. They often include supporting letters written by family arguing why their son, brother or husband should not be called up.

The tribunal heard over 11,000 cases, most of which were rejected outright. Only 26 men succeeded in being completely exempted from being called up. Only 577 of the cases the Middlesex tribunal heard were conscientious objection cases (just over 5%), and most of them were rejected.

The Middlesex records are rare survivors; at the end of the war, the government ordered the destruction of the tribunal records due to the sensitive material they contained. Only the Middlesex records and a set in Scotland were kept as representative samples.

The records have been difficult to access, but are now searchable by name, place, or reason for appeal. You can access the records here, and you can find out more about the background here.

Some incomplete sets of records relating to local tribunals are held at local record offices. At ERO we hold the Chelmsford Local Military Tribunal records, because it was largely staffed by Chelmsford Borough Council councillors and was clerked by the clerk to the council. The records are catalogued as D/B 7 M3/2/1; you can find their catalogue entry on Seax here.


Operation War Diary

The National Archives and the Imperial War Museum are running an online project called Operation War Diary. The 1.5 million pages of the unit war diaries kept on the Western Front have been digitised, and TNA and the IWM are asking for volunteers to help reveal the stories contained within them. You can find the Operation War Diary web pages here, and find out more about the project here.


Closer to home…

Chelmsford Civic Society has been awarded a £10,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant for their project Chelmsford Remembers, which will investigate the impact of the war on our county town.

A new website has recently been launched focusing on men from Southend and district who lost their lives during the war, with details of the names inscribed on memorials, graves, and rolls of honour. You can find the site here:

Havering Museum are asking for Havering residents to contribute memories and photographs of relatives who fought in the war to a memory wall, which will be included in an exhibition launching in August. Find out more here.

You can also keep up with what is going on in Essex on the Last Poppy project blog. Recent posts include:

If you have a resource that would be of use to First World War resources do let us know by writing to

New team member: Sarah-Joy Maddeaux

We have recently welcomed a new team member to work on our HLF-funded project You Are Hear: sound and a sense of placeThe project aims to digitise and catalogue historically valuable sound recordings, and then make these available in different ways.

Name: Sarah-Joy Maddeaux

Role: Archivist / Project Officer on the Essex Sound and Video Archive ‘You Are Hear’ project



Why did you want to work at ERO?

Most of my career has involved working on my own or with one other archivist, so I’m pleased to get support and encouragement from working with other archivists for a change. The project, which seeks to make our sound and video recordings more accessible through digitisation, cataloguing, and sound installations across the county, appealed to me as a great opportunity to promote archives, something I’m always keen to do, as well as develop new skills for my future career.


Describe an average day at ERO for you:

So far I have been mostly desk-bound, spending my time making initial contacts with community groups across Essex who might want to get involved with the project. Soon I will start actually going out and meeting people to raise enthusiasm for the project – but I’ll still have to chain myself to the desk from time to time to grapple with copyright permissions for the recordings and other background research. Long term, it’s hard to see how an ‘average’ day might unfold, which is both exciting and slightly unnerving!


What do you do when you’re not at ERO?

I just moved to the area for the job, so I have been spending my free time getting settled. I like walking, so I’m looking forward to exploring the countryside. I also spend time reading and visiting friends and family.


Can you tell us about an interesting document you have come across while at ERO?

I haven’t had chance to get my hands on many documents yet. I did enjoy watching an amusingly cheesy promotional video produced by Chelmsford Borough Council in around 1990, trying to entice people to visit or move to the city, the ‘Heart of Essex’ (VA 7/1/1). Among other things, it boasted about plans for a new development on King’s Head Meadow – now The Meadows Shopping Centre – and the eclectic architecture in the new development at South Woodham Ferrers, which they admitted might not be to everyone’s taste.

Recording of the Month March 2014: The Essex Youth Orchestra

The next monthly highlight from our Sound Archivist Martin Astell…

Essex Youth Orchestra – Wand of Youth (SA 10/1/1/1/1)

For March we have some music. Our choice this month is, we believe, the earliest recording of the Essex Youth Orchestra. The orchestra was formed in 1957 as part of the County Youth Service of Essex County Council and by the time this recording was made, in 1960, they had already made successful tours of West Berlin and Essex and been invited to tour Holland.  In subsequent years the orchestra visited Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Czechoslovakia, Italy, the USA and Canada, and has performed at the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Festival Hall, Snape Maltings, and at the Bath Festival both accompanied by and conducted by Yehudi Menuhin.

Youth Service Volume 8 Number 4 April 1968

New works have been written for or dedicated to the Essex Youth Orchestra by composers such as Alan Rawsthorne, Elizabeth Maconchy and Bernard Stevens, and former members have gone on to perform with any number of major symphony orchestras. Membership of the orchestra was open to any young person aged under 21 who was resident in Essex or attended an Essex school or college.

The Essex Youth Orchestra continues to the present day along much the same lines. You can find more details here.

The four recordings with our reference SA 10/1/1/1/1 were made on April 19th 1960 by Pike Films on both sides of two 7″ 45rpm lacquer ‘instantaneous’ discs. The discs have pre-printed labels bearing the Pike Films logo with the details of the recordings being hand-written in ink. The first two sides contain recordings of The Impressario by Mozart and part of Dvorak’s Symphony No.4. However, we have chosen to feature the third side which contains the first section of Elgar’s Wand of Youth (Suite 1), which seems appropriate for a youth orchestra. The fourth side has parts 2 and 3 of Wand of Youth.

Media Types 004 - Lacquer disc close-up

We are told that Elgar, when in his fifties, decided to develop into full orchestral works a number of compositions he had made at the tender age of eleven to accompany a childhood play staged by him and his siblings. These resulted in two suites to which he gave the name Wand of Youth and he chose to give them the opus number 1 to indicate that they were, in fact, his earliest work.

The Essex Sound and Video Archive holds a series of recordings of the Essex Youth Orchestra as well as others from Colchester Youth Chamber Orchestra, Witham Choral Society and others. We also hold recordings of compositions by Essex-based composers from William Byrd to Alan Bullard. Details of all the recordings held in the Essex Sound and Video Archive can be found on the Essex Record Office online catalogue Seax.

[soundcloud url=”″ params=”show_comments=true&auto_play=false&color=ff7700″ width=”100%” height=”81″ iframe=”false” /]