Canadian Virtual War Memorial

Frederick Thornton Peters

In memory of
Captain
Frederick Thornton Peters
November 13, 1942

Military Service:

Age:
53
Force:
Navy
Unit:
Royal Navy
Division:
H.M.S. Excellent
Citation(s):
Victoria Cross - The citation in the London Gazette of 14th May, 1943, reads:
Captain Peters was in the suicide charge" by two little cutters at Oran. The "Walney" and "Hartland" were two ex-American coastguard cutters which were lost in a gallant attempt to force the boom defences in the harbour of Oran during the landings on the North African coast. Captain Peters led his force through the boom in the face of point-blank fire from shore batteries, destroyer and a cruiser - a feat which was described as one of the great episodes of naval history. The "Walney" reached the jetty disabled and ablaze, and went down with her colours flying. Blinded in one eye, Captain Peters was the only survivor of the seventeen men on the bridge of the "Walney". He was taken prisoner but was later released when Oran was captured. On being liberated from the gaol, he was carried through the streets where the citizens hailed him with flowers. He earned the D.S.O. and D.S.C. in the last war. Distinguished Service Order (George V), London Gazette 30 March 1915, Distinguished Service Cross (George V), London Gazette 8 March 1918 and Bar -London Gazette 11 July 1940. British War Medal, Victory Medal, 1939-45 Star, Africa Star with Bar (North Africa 1942-43) 1939-45 Medal, Distinguished Service Cross (USA).

Additional Information:

Born:
September 17, 1889 Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Son of Frederick and Bertha Hamilton Peters, of Nelson, British Columbia. His brother, Gerald Hamilton Peters, had served during the First World War and died on June 3, 1916. Brother of John Franckly Peters who died in action in April of 1915. He was son of the Attorney General and the first Liberal Premier of that province. He was educated at St. Peter's Private School, later went to school in Victoria, British Columbia, and from there to Naval School in England. He graduated as a midshipman and three years later he received his commission as a sub-lieutenant. During the First World War he was decorated with the Distinguished Service Order, the first ever given to a Canadian, and the Distinguished Service Cross for gallantry in action. Following the action which earned him the Victoria Cross, he was proceeding to England when the plane he was in crashed and he was killed. He has no known grave but his name appears on the Naval Memorial at Portsmouth, England.

Commemorated on Page 615 of the Second World War Book of Remembrance. Request a copy of this page.

Burial Information:

Cemetery:
PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL ; Hampshire, United Kingdom
Grave Reference:
Panel 61, Column 3.
Location:
The Memorial is situated on Southsea Common overlooking the promenade, and is accessible at all times.

Information courtesy of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Digital Collection

Send us your images
  • Photo of Frederick Peters – Fritz in a photo that was probably taken soon after he enlisted in the Royal Navy in 1905
  • Family photo – From left: F.T. Peters' sister Mary Helen Dewdney, mother Bertha Peters, niece Dee Dee Dewdney McBride, and niece Eve Dewdney Fingland. c. 1930.
  • Photo of Frederick Thornton Peters – Frederick Thornton Peters, VC as a young man.  This was probably taken in the years immediately before the First World War.  Peters won numerous medals for bravery in both the First and Second World War, serving in the Royal Navy and Naval Intelligence.
  • Letter to family, p.1 – Letter from F.T. Peters to his family in 1942.
  • Letter to family, p.2 – Page 2 of a letter from F.T. Peters to his family in 1942.
  • Letter to family, p.3 – 3rd page of a letter from F.T. Peters to his family in 1942.
  • Letter to family, p.4 – Last page of a letter from F.T. Peters to his family in 1942.
  • Letter from Fritz (pages 1 and 4) – page 1 and 4 of 1916 letter from Fritz mentioning his two brothers who had recently died in the Great War.
  • Letter from Fritz (pages 2 and 3) – page 2 and 3 of 1916 letter from Fritz mentioning his brothers Gerald and Jack who had recently died in the Great War.
  • Newspaper clipping – news of receiving DSO from King George the Fifth
  • Photo of Frederick Thornton Peters – F.T. "Fritz" Peters, VC, a photo from the family collection.  Fritz was among the most decorated Canadians in WWI and WWII.  He served with the Royal Navy and in Navy Intelligence.
  • Photo of Frederick Thornton Peters – Frederick Thornton Peters, VC, (1889-1942)and a girlfriend in England. Circa 1941.  Photo from the family collection. Mailed to his mother by the lady after the war.  F.T. Peters was never married and had no children. His two brothers died in action WWI. His sister, Mary Helen Dewdney (1887-1976)was my grandmother.
  • Photo of Frederick Thornton Peters – Frederick Thornton "Fritz" Peters, 1889-1942.  Photo when he was about 50.
  • Press Clipping – From: F. Gordon Roe, "The Bronze Cross" (London : Gawthorn, 1945) page 73
  • Photo of Frederick Peters – Frederick was remembered in the Prince Edward Island Command's, Royal Canadian Legion Wartime Service Booklet.
  • Photo of Frederick Peters – Fritz and his lady friend Dorothy
  • Telegram – Telegram notifying mother of Fritz's death
  • Letter – Letter from General Eisenhower about awarding the Distinguished Service Cross to F.T. Peters for "extraordinary heroism in the attack on Oran".
  • Apology Letter – Letter apologizing for the Victoria Cross being sent to Fritz's mother in the regular mail rather than in a ceremony.
  • Newspaper clipping
  • Newspaper Clipping – news article shortly after World War 2 announcing that mountains near Nelson, B.C. were to be named after Victoria Cross winners Fritz Peters and Hammy Gray
  • Newspaper Clipping – British newspaper article about DSO presented to Fritz by King George V
  • Newspaper clipping
  • Newspaper clipping
  • Newspaper Clipping – newspaper report of posthumous presentation of his U.S. Distinguished Service Cross medal in February 1944
  • Medal
  • Distinguished Service Cross – The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Captain Frederick Thornton Peters, Royal British Navy, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while in command of the ship carrying Landing Forces of the United States Army into the harbor of Oran, Morocco, in the early morning of 8 November 1942. Captain Peters distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism against an armed enemy during the attack on that post. He remained on the bridge in command of his ship in spite of the fact that the protective armor thereon had been blown away by enemy shell fire and was thereby exposed personally to the withering cross fire from shore defenses. He accomplished the berthing of his ship, then went to the forward deck and assisted by one officer secured the forward mooring lines. He then with utter disregard of his own personal safety went to the quarter-deck and assisted in securing the aft mooring lines so that the troops on board could disembark. At that time the engine room was in flames and very shortly thereafter exploded and the ship turned on its side and sank.
General Orders: Allied Force Headquarters, General Orders No. 19 (November 23, 1942)
Action Date: November 8, 1942
Service: Foreign
Rank: Captain
  • Cenotaph – Barrie Military Park, Canadian Victoria Cross Recipients, Cenotaph

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