PETERS, CHARLES PHILIP

1889-1946 from England


engineer, was born on 5 April 1889 at Landport in Portsmouth, the son of a master baker. During the first months of World War I he was marine engineer on a collier taking fuel to the British fleet stationed in the Pacific. On arrival at the Panama Canal his ship was diverted to the Falkland Islands because a British fleet (commanded by Vice Admiral Doveton STURDEE) had been sent to the South Atlantic after the German victory at the Battle of Coronel. Charles Peters’ ship unloaded its cargo of coal just before the Battle of the Falklands began on 8 December.

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374 The Peters Family, about 1923.

During his time in the Falkland Islands in 1914/1915 Peters was offered the post of marine engineer with the Falkland Islands Company, but he had to complete his contract with the collier ship company first. He returned to England and on 10 June 1916 he married his fiancée, Meggie Osbon (born at Hartlepool on 17 September 1890).

Six weeks after their marriage the Peters sailed for the Falkland Islands on the RMS Oronsa. This was a brave journey for the bride in wartime, when her father had already survived three sinkings. (The RMS Oronsa herself was sunk near Liverpool, later in the war).

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375 Bodie Creek Bridge: the first...

On arrival in the Falklands, Peters became chief engineer on the FIC owned SS Falkland. On completion of his first contract with the FIC the Peters family returned briefly to England. They came back to the Falklands in 1923 when Charles Peters signed another contract upon his appointment as chief engineer of the FIC. His primary task was the oversight of the repair of ships at Stanley. His son remembers that his father would also repair ‘everything from primus stoves to motor bikes.’

Peters supervised the construction of Bodie Creek bridge and the erection of the shearing sheds at Goose Green, but he was often called back to Stanley to supervise work on ships. Work began on the bridge on 14 October 1924 and was completed by 10 July 1925. Peters did not slavishly follow the plans and drawings supplied by the FIC – he made a number of personal innovations, among them a stone access bridge which he designed and built on the south side of the Bodie Creek bridge’s main structure.

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376 Bodie Creek Bridge: almost...

In order to speed up the work on the bridge and giant shearing shed, the Peters family moved to Goose Green for the duration of the building work. While there, Peters rigged sails on the rail trucks which ran from the shearing sheds to the jetty.

Peters was a keen photographer and he owned several high quality cameras. The construction of Bodie Creek Bridge and of the shearing sheds at Goose Green was carefully recorded in a series of excellent photographs.

He became very friendly with many of the Norwegian whaling ships crews. Peters and a friend commisioned the construction of a large ‘pram’ dinghy from Norway which was delivered by the whalers the following whaling season. The small boat was used for many family expeditions; they ventured all around the coastline of the Islands even sailing as far as the sea stack called the Horse Block, off Weddel Island, in West Falkland.

Charles Peters loved jazz and was a good musician. He played a Stroh (mechanically amplified) violin and joined a group called ‘The Stanley Syncopators’. In company with many other members of the Falkland Islands community, he took part in Governor HODSON’s memorable production of The Downfall of Zacariah Fee.

Charles and Meggie Peters had two children during their time in the Falklands: Doris Malvina Peters (known as Vina) who was born at Goose Green on 5 June 1920 and Harry Osbon Peters (known as Pete) also born at Goose Green on 30 June 1922).

The Peters returned to England in 1929 because they did not want their children educated at the British school in Uruguay. The family settled in Slough and Peters joined a structural engineering company. The company closed at the outbreak of World War II, and Charles Peters became an aeronautical engineering inspector. He died in August 1946.

After being widowed Meggie Peters, who was a trained seamstress, supported herself by her sewing making everything from wedding dresses to curtains and slip covers. She died in August 1963.

Authors

Stephen Palmer

Revisions

2018 - Original version