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Heroes of the hour

More than a third of the ICE membership fought in the First World War. Of the 3,127 members who fought, 323 were killed and 393 were decorated for acts of outstanding courage.

One Associate Member (equivalent to Member in 1918), Major Arnold Horace Waters, received the British Army's highest award - the Victoria Cross - for supervising a crossing of the Oise-Sambre canal near Ors on 4 November 1918.

'From the outset the task was under artillery and machine gun fire at close range, the bridge was damaged and the building party suffered severe casualties,' his citation read.

'Major Waters, hearing that all his officers had been killed or wounded, at once went forward and personally supervised the completion of the bridge, working on cork floats while under fire at point blank range. So intense was the fire that it seemed impossible that he could escape being killed. The success of the operation was due entirely to his valour and example.'

Waters went on to establish his own sewerage and water supply practice in Birmingham. He was knighted in 1954 and died in 1981.

Details of the 15 other Royal Engineers to receive the Victoria Cross during the First World War can be found in The Sapper VCs by Gerald Napier, published by the Stationery Office at 35.

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