|Waters - on the knee of his mother, |
Mary - with his father, Eric and brother John,
shortly before his father was killed
“Daddy's flown, across the water...leaving just a memory, the snapshot in the family album, Daddy what else did you leave for me...Daddy, what'd you leave behind for me?” Roger Waters
‘It was just before dawn one miserable morning in black ’44,’ sings Roger Waters, former member of Pink Floyd, in When The Tigers Broke Free, the song he wrote about that day.
‘The Anzio bridgehead was held for the price of a few hundred ordinary lives.’
Eric Fletcher Waters was the son of a County Durham coal miner and Labour Party activist. He won a scholarship to Durham University and became a school teacher. In 1939 he was a Communist and a committed pacifist and refused to take up arms, driving an ambulance during the Blitz instead. But he was changed by the nature and scale of the unfolding conflict. He signed up to fight against fascism.
That was how he came to be a second lieutenant in 8th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, part of a force that landed on the beaches at Anzio in February 1944 and was told to hold the town.
The 31-year-old’s name is one of 4,000 listed on a memorial to those who were killed in action at Anzio but whose bodies were never found. His youngest son Roger was four months old when it happened; just old enough to have appeared in a family picture with his father, taken shortly before Eric’s deployment to Italy.
Eric Waters died on a battlefield in Italy on February 18 1944 because of the foolishness of the generals he served.