George Roger Waters was born in Great Bookham, Surrey near Leatherhead, and grew up in Cambridge.
Although his father Eric Fletcher Waters had been a Communist and ardent pacifist, he fought in World War II and died in action at Anzio in 1944, when Roger was only five months old.
Waters would refer or allude to the loss of his father throughout his work, especially on The Final Cut album from 1983 (which is dedicated to his father) and the song named "When the Tigers Broke Free" from the movie version of The Wall. However, he has said that the mother character from the latter album was nothing like his own. Distrust of authority, particularly government, educational, and military institutions, is a recurring theme in Waters' writing. This theme is clearly expressed in "When the Tigers Broke Free" as Waters expresses what he felt was a hollow and patronizing response to his father's sacrifice at Anzio:
"And kind old King George sent Mother a note when he heard that Father was gone.
It was, as I recall, in a form of a scroll, with gold leaf and all.
And I found it one day in a drawer of old photographs, hidden away.
And my eyes still grow damp to remember, His Majesty signed with his own rubber stamp."
He and Syd Barrett attended the Morley Memorial Junior School on Hills Road, Cambridge, and later both attended the Cambridge County School for Boys (now Hills Road Sixth Form College), while fellow band member David Gilmour attended The Perse School on the same road . He met Nick Mason and Richard Wright while attending the Regent Street Polytechnic school of architecture. He was a keen sportsman and was fond of swimming in the River Cam at Grantchester Meadows. At 15 he was chair of YCND in Cambridge.