Split Waterman - Biography - Wartime Service

Wartime Service

Waterman applied to join the Royal Air Force when World War II broke out but was unable to join as his job as a toolmaker was classed as a reserved occupation. He joined the Local Defence Volunteers (Home Guard) in 1942, before joining the Royal Fusiliers, and was posted to North Africa before being involved in the invasion of Italy. Shrapnel wounds that led to him being declared unfit for front line service saw him transferred to the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and posted to a workshop in Pozzuoli, near Naples. Motorcycle racing events became a regular occurrence, and Waterman was involved in building a speedway track at Vomero Stadium. He became a proficient racer on his adapted BSA M20 bike, and it was from speedway racing that Waterman gained his nickname; After falling in a race he split his racing leathers down the back, after which his colleagues referred to him as "split arse", which was later shortened to "split". After a tour of duty in Palestine, Waterman was posted to Germany where his commanding officer, a Major Fenwick, wrote to Wembley manager Alec Jackson, with whom he had served earlier in the war, to recommend giving Waterman a trial.

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