“The Bravest Canadian — Fritz Peters VC“ Wins B.C. Genealogical Society 2012 family history book award

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On June 12, 2013 the British Columbia Genealogical Society announced that “The Bravest Canadian — Fritz Peters VC: The Making of a Hero of Two World Wars“ won the society`s 2012 Family History Book Award.

The award was presented to author Sam McBride at the B.C. Genealogical Society awards night in Burnaby, B.C.  The BCGS web site at www.bcgs.ca has more details on the annual book award.

This is the book`s first West Coast award. In February 2013 the letters-based biography of Capt. Frederic Thornton Peters, VC, DSO, DSC and bar, DSC (U.S.), RN was honoured with a Heritage Award from the Prince Edward Island Museum and Heritage Foundation.

http://www.abcbookworld.com/view_author.php?id=10982

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Certificate for BCGS family history book award

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information about the BC Genealogical Society family history book awards

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Online features, interviews and reports related to the life and achievements of Fritz Peters VC

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Halifax Chronicle-Herald newspaper

http://thechronicleherald.ca/books/168866-a-hero-s-story-more-than-a-military-man

New Brunswick Historical Society newsletter

http://www1.gnb.ca/0007/culture/heritage/NBHSNov2012.pdf

Monday magazine, Victoria, B.C., November 2012

http://www.mondaymag.com/entertainment/177781151.html

Nelson Star

http://www.nelsonstar.com/news/183103291.html?mobile=true

CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum web site, Local Heroes section

http://www.navalandmilitarymuseum.org/resource_pages/heroes/peters.html

CBC Charlottetown – radio

http://www.cbc.ca/player/AudioMobile/Mainstreet+PEI/ID/2336800722/?page=6

http://www.cbc.ca/islandmorning/episodes/2011/11/11/a-pei-war-hero—frederick-thornton-peters

list of authors interviewed by Mark Forsythe on CBC British Columbia

http://www.cbc.ca/bcalmanac/bookshelf

News 1130, Vancouver, B.C.

http://www.news1130.com/2012/11/10/new-book-shines-light-on-bc-veteran

World Naval Ships Forum – discussion

http://www.worldnavalships.com/forums/showthread.php?p=10072543

Victoria Cross forum – discussion

http://victoriacross.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=general&action=display&thread=1801

Military Times – Hall of Valor

http://projects.militarytimes.com/citations-medals-awards/recipient.php?recipientid=17107

ww2*awards

http://en.ww2awards.com/person/130

abcbookworld web site

http://www.abcbookworld.com/view_author.php?id=10982

Photos from the presentation of 2013 Heritage Awards by the Prince Edward Island Museum and Heritage Foundation

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pei_museum

The article below in Legion Magazine was done in 2006 before information from the Peters Family Papers became available.   The story of Fritz is included along with the stories of Canada`s other naval VC`s, Robert Hampton Gray and Rowland Bourke.   Further details on all three are in the Local Heroes section of the CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum web site.   Ironically, each of the heroes  has a special connection with the small mountain community of Nelson, British Columbia, 400 miles inland from the West Coast.  Gray and Bourke lived in Nelson, and Peters` U.S. DSC medal was officially presented to his mother as next-of-kin in a ceremony at her home in Nelson.

http://legionmagazine.com/en/index.php/2006/03/valour-in-the-navy/

upboat.net

http://www.uboat.net/allies/commanders/submit.php

Veterans Affairs Canada, virtual memorial for Frederic Thornton Peters.   Click on digital collection.

http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/collections/virtualmem/detail/2495305

Amazon.ca listing and reviews

http://www.amazon.ca/Bravest-Canadian-Story-Fritz-Peters/dp/1926991109

Canadian Expeditionary Force research forum

http://cefresearch.ca/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=10595

Details of mountains in the Nelson, B.C. area named after Fritz Peters and Hammy and Jack Gray, along with geographic naming of Rowland Bourke on the B.C. coast.

http://www.54thbattalioncef.ca/WARPAGES/geographic.htm

Fritz and Operation Reservist noted in An Army at Dawn by Rick Atkinson, winner of Pulitzer Prize

http://books.google.ca/books?id=J4FDFgWB3aYC&pg=PA70&lpg=PA70&dq=frederic+thornton+peters&source=bl&ots=7rAdpFTNVx&sig=RAtEp2BU6hsvXsLtU4XhAdLTsAs&hl=en&sa=X&ei=1Na0UbDoN4SiiQLn14HYBw&ved=0CGYQ6AEwCTgU#v=onepage&q=frederic%20thornton%20peters&f=false

Special Forces roll of honour (SOE)

http://www.specialforcesroh.com/showthread.php?4109-Peters-Frederick-Thornton

Bartley family tree, including Gray and Peters families

http://www.thesilverbowl.com/familytree/BartleyTree-6.htm

CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum web site, Defending the Coast section.  Story of Peters` cousin,  Col. James Peters

http://www.navalandmilitarymuseum.org/resource_pages/coastal_defence/james_peters.html

Veterans Affairs Canada virtual memorial for Fritz`s brother John Francklyn Peters.   Click on digital collection.

http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/collections/virtualmem/photos/1595255

Veterans Affairs Canada virtual memorial for Fritz`s brother Gerald Hamilton Peters.   Click on digital collection.

http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/collections/virtualmem/Detail/1595253

Biography of Fritz`s paternal grandfather Judge James Horsfield Peters

http://biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?id_nbr=6365

Biography of Fritz`s uncle, the Hon. Arthur Peters

http://biographi.ca/en/bio/peters_arthur_13E.html

Biography of Fritz`s maternal grandfather, Col. John Hamilton Gray

http://biographi.ca/en/bio/gray_john_hamilton_1811_87_11E.html

Biography of Fritz`s maternal great-grandfather, Col. Robert Gray

http://biographi.ca/en/bio/gray_robert_1828_6E.html

Biography of Fritz`s paternal great-grandfather, Sir Samuel Cunard

http://biographi.ca/en/bio/cunard_samuel_9E.html

Biography of Fritz`s Loyalist ancestor Charles Jeffery Peters

http://biographi.ca/en/bio/peters_charles_jeffery_7E.html

Biography of Fritz`s Loyalist ancestor Benjamin Lester Peters

http://biographi.ca/en/bio/peters_benjamin_lester_8E.html

Biography of Fritz`s uncle Henry Skeffington Poole

http://biographi.ca/en/bio/poole_henry_skeffington_14E.html

Biography of Admiral Henry Wolsey Bayfield, RN, father of Fritz`s uncle Edward Bayfield

http://biographi.ca/en/results.php?ft=Bayfield

Biography of Fritz`s maternal great-grandfather, Gen. Sir John Lysaght Pennefather

http://www.oxforddnb.com/templates/article.jsp?articleid=21865&back=

How Canadian was Frederic Thornton Peters?

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by Sam McBride

F.T. “Fritz“ Peters is excluded from some lists of Canadian Victoria Cross heroes because 1) he spent his adult years based in either Gold Coast colony in West Africa, or England; 2) he served in the Royal Navy and with the British Secret Intelligence Service; or at sea with the Royal Navy; and 3) he rarely mentioned Canada as his nation of birth and boyhood.

A long-time friend and naval colleague, Commander David Joel, wrote in unpublished memoirs that he had heard that Peters returned to Canada for a time in the inter-war period, but he had no details.

The last record of Fritz in Canada was his father Frederick Peters` funeral in Victoria, British Columbia in August 1919, which Fritz organized and attended. His mother Bertha Gray Peters later wrote that her son Fritz would have joined the Royal Canadian Navy if there was one, but when Fritz enlisted at age 15 in 1905 the only navy to sign up with was the Royal Navy, which had a large profile in the Victoria region where Fritz resided due to its Pacific Station base in Esquimalt. The Royal Canadian Navy was still five years away from existence.
The latest publicly available censuses Fritz is on are the 1901 and 1911 censuses. Interestingly, he and his family are included in both the Canada census and the England census for 1901, when the family continued to be based in Oak Bay, B.C. but spent considerable time at Bertha`s stepmother Sarah Caroline Cambridge Gray`s community of Bedford north of London, where the children attended private school. Fritz was also counted twice in 1911, as his family included him as a resident of Esquimalt where they lived, and, as a sub-lieutenant on HMS Otter, Fritz was also included in the 1911 England census. He listed his nationality as Canadian, with “British subject“ in parentheses. Fritz listed his ethnic background as Scottish, as did all of his siblings except elder sister Helen, who said she was of English heritage.

Fritz`s Canadian origins are clearly stated in his Royal Navy file, and his best friends Swain Saxton, Cromwell Varley and David Joel were aware that he was Canadian. While it is true that Fritz did not mention being Canadian in his dealings with Americans in the Second World War, but tended to keep his personal life and background to himself as a matter of principle, and in sync with the top secret work he was involved in. Fritz`s letters home show that he detested self-promotion. Even if he were not involved in secret projects, he would not be showing off a c.v. or talking about his achievements because he thought such bragging was unseemly.

It is true that Fritz would have travelled on a British passport, because there were no Canadian passports until 1949 – seven years after his death. It is only in recent years that the concept of all Canadians being British subjects has faded away.

There are two other measures in which Fritz`s Canadianness stands out. Firstly, his ancestry goes back to an original proprietor of P.E.I., and three of his four grandparents (Peters, Gray and Cunard) were direct descendants of United Empire Loyalists who came to the Canadian Maritimes after the American Revolutionary War. If Canadian roots could be measured in loyalty and length of residence, Fritz was about as Canadian as you could get.

Secondly, Fritz deserves recognition as a Canadian because two of his brothers, Private John Francklyn Peters and Lieut. Gerald Hamilton Peters, died early in the First World War fighting with the 7th British Columbia Battalion. Another brother, Noel Quintan Peters, served with the Canadian Forestry Corps.

And Fritz was always proud to be a grandson of a Father of Confederation, Col. John Hamilton Gray. Fritz’s letters show that he spent time in London researching his grandfather and other Fathers of Confederation.

Also, the name of Fritz Peters is not found in British lists of Victoria Cross recipients from England, so if he is also not on Canadian lists he is overlooked in the overall picture.

If you talk to people in Charlottetown, they will tell you they are proud of him as a Canadian hero, particularly as he is the only P.E.I.-born recipient of the Victoria Cross.

So the answer is that yes, Fritz Peters was most definitely a Canadian!

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New images in Fritz Peters ancestry

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by Sam McBride

During my recent visit to Prince Edward Island I had an opportunity to see, and copy, information and photographs gathering over the years by my relative (second cousin, once removed) Hugh “Pete“ Paton of Charlottetown. Pete is a grandson of Arthur Peters (premier of P.E.I. 1901-1907), who was the younger brother of Frederick Peters (premier of P.E.I. 1891-1897), who was Fritz Peters` father and my great-grandfather.

Several years ago Pete came across paintings of Thomas Horsfield Peters and his wife Mary Sharmen at a gallery in New Brunswick and photographed them. I was thrilled to see them, as they are the first of the pair that I have come across. For many years large framed photographs of their son, Judge James Horsfield Peters, and his wife Mary Cunard hung on a wall in my mother`s house. About a dozen years ago through internet forums I acquired images of Thomas Horsfield Peters` parents, the United Empire Loyalists James Peters and Margaret Lester.

The new images of Thomas Horsfield Peters and Mary Sharman fill empty spaces in the pictorial Fritz Peters family tree going back three generations. You can see that the only ones with blank spaces in the tree are Susan Duffus (wife of Sir Samuel Cunard, and mother of Mary Cunard); Lieut. William Bartley (first husband of Lady Pennefather, and mother of Susan Gray, wife of Col. John Hamilton Gray, P.E.I. premier and Father of Confederation); and Mary Burns (daughter of original proprietor Capt. George Burns and mother of Col. John Hamilton Gray). I do not have an image of the United Empire Loyalist Robert Gray (father of John Hamilton Gray), but I do have his signature featured in his box on the tree. I have photographs of Lady Pennefather`s second husband, General Sir John Lysaght Pennefather, who became young Susan`s stepfather.

One would think that there would be paintings of Susan Duffus Cunard because of the prominence of her husband as a steam travel magnate, but to date I have not been able to locate any images of her. She died at age 33 after having nine children with Sir Samuel. As a prominent Loyalist who formed an led a regiment in the American Revolution, there should be paintings or sketches of Robert Gray, but I have not come across any.

Click on the family tree image below, and it will be much bigger on your screen and easy to read.

Fritz family tree updated june 2013