Captain Frederic Thornton “Fritz“ Peters, VC, DSO, DSC and bar, DSC (U.S.), RN would rate among the greatest Canadian war heroes on the basis of his gallant exploits in either the First World War or the Second World War. The combination of these accomplishments – including three major honours for valour in each of the wars – give him a special place in the pantheon of Canadian military heroes.

Frederic Thornton Peters, soon after joining the Royal Navy at age 15 in 1905. (McBride Collection)

Previous attempts to tell Peters` story have been stymied by the lack of a paper trail due to his involvement in top secret and controversial projects, his detestation of publicity and self-promotion, and never settling for long in one place. The heart of the new book The Bravest Canadian coming out in spring 2012 is a recently-discovered treasure trove of letters from and about Fritz Peters and his family that give insight into his life experience, what he was thinking, and what made him tick.   The author of The Bravest Canadian is Trail, B.C. writer Sam McBride, who discovered the collection of letters, and used them along with established sources as well as other new material to help unravel the mysteries of his granduncle Fritz’s amazing life.  The book also features an array of family photos made available for publication for the first time, as well as the Victor Comics feature on Fritz Peters’ valour at Oran harbour that earned him the Victoria Cross as well as the U.S. Distinguished Service Cross, which was the higher honour the U.S. could bestow on a non-American.

Acting Captain Frederic Thornton Peters, in 1942 on leave in Scotland, where he led the planning an training for Operation Reservist, the extremely hazardous mission to capture Oran harbour intact for the needs of the massive Allied invasion of North Africa in November 1942. (McBride C9llection)

Peters’ Maritime establishment family revered war heroes in its ancestry, ranging from Loyalist officers in the Revolutionary War, through the wars and British Empire skirmishes of the 19th century.  As a young boy, Frederic Thornton Peters was expected to live up to this tradition, which he did in spades.   His love of military life was reflected in the Germanic nickname of “Fritz” by which he was known by relatives and friends.  He was a loveable eccentric, in the best traditions of the Royal Navy in which he served.

His is a world-wide story, encompassing boyhood on both coasts of Canada, naval service at the romantic China Station, tense battles with German U-boats in both wars, a mysterious career in the spy world, and culminating as leader of a modern-day Charge of the Light Brigade inside the harbour of Oran, Algeria against Vichy French guns lined up against him in every direction.