Dramatic dispatches detailing the final 24 hours of Pink Floyd star’s soldier father in World War II reveal his heroic last stand
Dramatic dispatches describing the final hours of Pink Floyd star Roger Waters’s soldier father have been uncovered by a fellow soldier.
Eric Fletcher Waters died in 1944 while serving as a second lieutenant with the Royal Fusiliers as they advanced through Italy as World War Two was reaching its closing stages.
The first line dated February 17 records how at 11am ‘intensive shelling and mortaring’ took place in the area where Lt Waters, commanding officer John Oliver-Bellasis and the rest of Z company as they tried to advance on a heavily defended German position.
Later in the day, an entry timed 1745, describes colourfully how the Germans called on Lt Waters and his comrades to give up: ‘Z coy reported an attack on the left forward platoon. The bosche called on them to surrender but were answered with all available SA (semi automatic) fire. Casualties were inflicted.’
The report goes on to record a quiet night but then in the early hours of the morning at 1.45am, the day Lt Waters was killed, describes an ‘enemy concentration reported on the rt of 7th Oxf & Bucks, which is followed by an entry at 0630 of how the Oxf and Bucks troops are being attacked ‘and sounds of tracked vehilces heard to their front.’
At 7.15am ‘Z coy reported attack by approx 50 Bosches. Successfully dealt with.’ More than two hours later at 0945am it adds: ‘5 enemy killed and several spandaus captured as result of above.’ Then 30 minutes later the battle which will claim Lt Waters life begins.
It reads: ‘Further attack on Z coy. This time in greater strength than previous attack. Enemy in close contact with forward positions. Unable to send assistance as Z coy having trouble on their rt.’
An hour later the Diary records: ‘Z coy reported enemy all round their positions, very stiff fighting going on.’ Then at 1130am the final report reads: ‘Lt Waters killed and Lt Hill wounded, situation now critical. Message received over air that assistance would now be too late.’
Lt Waters was killed in the first wave of fighting as the Allies attempted to secure the beach head at Anzio, south of Rome and his son was just five months old when he died.
Lt Waters name is on a memorial at the nearby Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery at Cassino but his remains were never found.
Eric Waters’ death provided the inspiration for several songs and it is commemorated in particular with When The Tigers Broke Free, which also appeared in the film The Wall.
In the song, Waters describes how he feels that his 31-year-old father died because of foolhardy generals.
The last verse has the lyrics ‘It was dark all around. There was frost in the ground When the tigers broke free. And no one survived From the Royal Fusiliers Company Z. They were all left behind, Most of them dead.