Sir Arnold Horace Santo Waters VC CBE DSO MC

b. 23/09/1886 Plymouth, Devon. d. 22/01/1981 Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire.

Arnold Horace Santo Waters (1886-1981) was born at 3 Greenbank Terrace, Plymouth, Devon, the son of Reverend Richard Waters (1852-1906) and Abigail Santo (1850-1941), who both hailed from Cornwall. Arnold had a younger sister, Gladys, born in 1889, and two older siblings, Alice (born 1884) and J. R. Norman (born 1881).

Sir Arnold H S Waters

Four years after the death of his father in 1906, Arnold left his native Plymouth, and moved to Birmingham, where he gained employment with Messrs Wilcox & Raikes, who were consulting engineers. On the outbreak of the Great War, he was commissioned into the Royal Engineers, due to engineering background. Thoughout the course of the war, he was awarded the DSO, and MC prior to the award of the VC for his actions on the Sambre-Oise Canal in November 1918. He had reached the rank of Major prior to his action.

On 4th November 1918 near Ors, France, Major Waters, with his Field Company, was bridging the Oise-Sambre Canal under artillery and machine-gun fire at close range, the bridge being damaged and the building party suffering severe casualties. All Major Waters’ officers had been killed or wounded and he at once went forward and personally supervised the completion of the bridge, working on cork floats while under such intense fire that it seemed impossible that he could survive. The success of the operation was entirely due to his valour and example.

After the war finished, he then returned to his life in Birmingham and branched out on his own as a consulting engineer dealing in water supply and sewage and later became a member of the Institute of Civil Engineers, Mechanical Engineers and Water Engineers. In 1924, he married Gladys Evelina Maud Barriball (1900-1988) in Birmingham. She also, like his parents, had Cornish connections, originally hailing from Penzance.

From the moment Major Arnold Waters joined The Institution of Structural Engineers in 1926 he was an industrious and committed member. Besides being the only Past President to hold the Institution Presidency on two occasions (1933-34 and 1943-44), he published papers in The Structural Engineer and was Chairman of the Midlands Counties Branch. He was nominated a Fellow on the occasion of the Institution‘s Diamond Jubilee in 1968, and an Institution Medal was also named in his honour.

Sir Arnold was made a Companion of the Order of the British Empire in 1949 and was Knighted in 1954, but it was his gallantry in the First World War that earned him his special place among Institution Presidents. He was a very modest man, not keen to discuss his war exploits or his award of the Victoria Cross. He did take a keen interest in the welfare of Ex-soldiers and was Chairman of the Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield Pensions Committee and a Justice of the Peace for Sutton Coldfield in later life. Sir Arnold passed away in Four Oaks, Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire on 22nd January 1981, aged 94, and was cremated at Sutton Coldfield Crematorium, and his ashes scattered.

His medal group comprising of his VC, MC, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20 and Victory Medal 1914-19 with Mentioned in Despatches oakleaf are held by the Royal Engineers Museum, Chatham, Kent. His CBE and KCB are not part of the group.





Graham Naylor – Images of the Waters VC Stone and the accompanying information board in Plymouth, Devon.

Richard Thompson – Image of the Waters VC Memorial in Barrack Street, Warwick.