Lieutenant, Hants Carabiniers and 6th Squadron, Royal Flying Corps
Killed in Action flying over Poperinge, West Flanders, Belgium, 24 January 1917, aged 30
Buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Poperinghe
Grave Reference: Plot X, Row A, Grave 1

(left) Gravestone in Forest Row Cemetery (right) Gravestone in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery

Eric Gordon Waters was born in Forest Row in 1886, son of James and Elizabeth Ann Waters. James had married second wife Elizabeth Ann Woodhead in Kensington in 1871, and Eric was the ninth of their 12 children. The census returns show Eric living at Oakcroft, in Forest Row, a house situated where the present Christian Community Church now stands in Hartfield Road. James Waters was a builder and some of his brothers followed their father into the construction business, either as builders or carpenters; the family firm is still operating today. Eric, however, chose to follow a career as an electrical engineer, which is how he is recorded on the 1911 census, and he appears in a list of students in the Journal of the Institution of Electrical Engineers in 1903 (click here to view).

A reference in the National Archives Catalogue suggests that 2nd Lieutenant Eric Gordon Waters was connected to the Royal Garrison artillery in 1914, although the London Gazette posted him as 2nd Lieutenant in the Hants Carabiniers as of 19 October 1914. It also notes that 'Second Lieutenant Eric Gordon Waters is appointed to command the 1st South Western Mounted Brigade, Signal Troop, and is seconded while so employed'. However, he was also still operating as an electrical engineer as on 31 August 1915 he was granted a patent on an electric protective system (which he filed in April that year) which related to the protection of electric systems formed in sections, for example, ring main systems (click here to see patent record).

While stationed at B.E. Brightlingsea in 1915, he was summoned for 'driving a motor car in a manner dangerous to the public' at Chelmsford on 9 October. He apparently took a corner so fast that his vehicle ended up on the wrong side of the road, narrowly missing a cyclist, and skidding 10 feet when the brakes were applied. Waters denied the charge, but was fined 50 shillings and 10 shillings costs anyway (source: British Newspaper Archive).

It is not known whether this took place before or after he transferred to No.6 Squadron Royal Flying Corps, but this was where he was serving when he was killed. He was apparently wounded escorting a photographic patrol. His plane was shot up; the observer, Sergeant Slingsby, climbed into the pilot's cockpit and succeeded in landing between Vlamertinge and Ypres. He survived, but Eric, shot in the back and head, did not. He was 30 years old (click here for his Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery details).

Probate of his estate was granted to his mother Elizabeth Ann Waters, with effects valued at £1,215 17s. 3d.

Pam Griffiths