Charles Fryatt is a British sailor, the captain of the Brussels, a civilian steamer. In March of 1915 while sailing in the Norths Sea his ship was ordered to stop by a German U-boat. Fryatt disobeyed this order, instead ordering his ship to raise steam and sail towards the U-boat at full speed. The U-boat managed to submerge before Fryatt could ram it. The Brussels made its escape and in recognition of his actions Fryatt was awarded a gold watch by the Admiralty.
Last month while sailing by night from the Hook of Holland to Harwich the Brussels was ambushed by German destroyers. They forced it to sail with them to their base at Zeebrugge in occupied Belgium. Fryatt and his crew are interned in Bruges.
Today the Germans court-martial Fryatt for attempting to ram the U-boat last year. They argue that, as a civilian, he has no right to be engaging in military action. By trying to ram a U-boat he has become nothing more than a franc-tireur, operating outside the protection of law.
Charles Fryatt (Wikipedia)
German notice announcing Fryatt’s execution (Wikipedia)