Estate of Fritz Peters Valued at £254

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by Sam McBride

I recently was notified by ancestry.com that they had an image of the probate record of Capt. Frederic Thornton Peters.

Fritz left an estate of 254 pounds, most of which probably went to pay off loans and debts. The record says the probate went to Rosalind Varley (wife of Cromwell Hanford Varley), which confirms that she was executor (or executrix, as she described herself in a letter to Fritz`s mother) of Fritz`s will. Rosalind Varley said in her letter that she would forward Fritz`s personal effects to his family in Canada when the war was over and sea transport was safe. I recent had an enjoyable phone chat with Rosalind`s daughter Juliet who had many happy memories of Fritz`s regular visits to the Varley home.

The probate went through on Feb. 1, 1943 and was registered at the Llandudno registry in north Wales. They listed the Peters address as: care of the United Service Club, Pall Mall, London, which was the address he noted in his March 1942 letter to his sister Helen Dewdney, the last correspondence the relatives received from him. That same address was also on passenger lists for several voyages Fritz took in the years between the wars.

The date of death in the record was November 13, 1942, further confirming information from the Admiralty Office of Fritz`s date of death in a flying boat crash in Plymouth Sound

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70 Years Since Official Announcement of F.T. Peters’ Victoria Cross

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Charlottetown newspaper May 20 1943

Vancouver newspaper May 1943peters vc gazette 1 001

Next month will mark 70 years since the awarding of the Victoria Cross to Capt. Frederic Thornton “Fritz” Peters, VC, DSO, DSC and bar, DSC (U.S.), RN became official with publication in the May 14, 1943 London Gazette.

The announcement says the King “has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the VICTORIA CROSS” to  Peters “for valour in taking H.M.S. Walney, in an enterprise of desperate hazard, into the harbor of Oran on the 8th November, 1942.  Captain Peters led his force through the boom towards the jetty In the face of point-blank fire from shore batteries, a Destroyer and a Cruiser.  Blinded in one eye, he alone of the seventeen Officers and Men on the bridge survived.  The Walney reached the jetty disabled and ablaze, and went down with her colours flying”.

Dated May 18, 1943, the announcement of the VC was followed by other awards “for outstanding bravery and enterprise in the action in the harbour at Oran In H.M. Ships Hartland and Walney”.   Distinguished Service Order (DSO) awards went to Lieutenant Godfrey Philip Billot, RNR (who was in command of Hartland), Lieutenant Wallace Dempsey Moseley, RN and Lieutenant Vere Ashworth Hickson, RN.

Also announced for the Oran action were five Distinguished Service Crosses, one Conspicuous Gallantry Medal, 10 Distinguished Service Medals, and three Mention in Despatches.

There were also two posthumous Mention in Despatches to two men who had a prominent role in the operation: Lieutenant-Commander Peter Capel Merrick, RN, and Lieutenant Paul Eric Aver Duncan, RNVR.   Merrick was in command of Walney until killed by the shell that hit the bridge.  Upon his death, mission overall commander Capt. Peters took charge of Walney.   Duncan spoke on the loud hailer announcing in French that the defenders should not fire at them because they were friends from America.  He was killed as he was repeating his statement.