Published: 10 November 2014
To mark the centenary of World War One and Remembrance Day, we celebrate Sir Arnold Waters VC, our outstanding Past President.
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 43-44), 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. His decorations in the field included the Military Cross, the Distinguished Service Order (1918), and the Victoria Cross (1919).
Sir Arnold won the Victoria Cross for his actions during The Second Battle of the Sambre on 4 November 1918 near Ors, France. The citation read: 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.
As the Institution obituary said in 1981: “It is by such men that the future of our nation is assured.”