FOSTER, William
(Service number 60099)

Aliases Born William FOX
First Rank Private Last Rank Private


Date 20 August 1881 Place of Birth Kaiapoi Island

Enlistment Information

Date 20 June 1917 Age 35 years 10 months
Address at Enlistment Grey Street, Auckland
Occupation Contractor
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Married
Next of Kin Mrs Clythe Myrtle Gundreda Massey FOSTER (wife), 11 Collingwood Street, New Brighton, Christchurch
Religion Church of England
Medical Information Height 5 feet 8 inches. Weight 162 lbs. Chest measurement 33 -36½ inches. Complexion fair. Eyes grey. Hair dark brown. Sight – both eyes 6/6. Hearing good. Colour vision normal. Limbs & chest well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Heart & lungs normal. No illnesses. Pulse 66. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Slight small haemorrhoids. Good bodily & mental health. No slight defects. No fits. No notifications for consumption. Never under treatment in a Sanatorium. Never absent from work through ill-health or accident. Never discharged from H.M. Services. Class A.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 30th Reinforcements, Auckland Infantry Regiment, A Company
Date 13 October 1917
Transport Corinthic
Embarked From Destination Liverpool, Merseyside, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With

Military Awards

Campaigns Western European
Service Medals British War Medal; Victory Medal
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date


Date 19 February 1919 Reason No longer physically fit for war service on account of wounds received in action (gunshot wounds left thigh).

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

28 December 1917 admitted to Isolation Hospital at Tidworth. 1 September 1918, France - gunshot wound to left thigh. 2 September admitted to Casualty Clearing Station; 4 September admitted to 2nd Canadian General Hospital; evacuated to UK, 8 September admitted to 2nd NZ General Hospital. 15 September placed on seriously ill list. 28 September still seriously ill though improving. 2 October removed from seriously ill list. 19 November 1918 admitted to 2nd New Zealand General Hospital at Walton-on-Thames – re gunshot wound to left thigh.

Post-war Occupations



Date 5 October 1935 Age 54 years
Place of Death Ashburton
Memorial or Cemetery Ashburton Cemetery
Memorial Reference RSA section, Block 155, Plot 20
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

William Foster was born William Fox on 20 August 1881 at Kaiapoi Island, the son of Annie (Ann) Fox and James Fairweather, Annie and James being unmarried. Annie Fox, who was born in Oxfordshire, England, married Yorkshire-born Joseph Foster on 28 September 1885 at Clarkville, Kaiapoi Island, Canterbury, New Zealand. There were seven children born of the marriage, two of whom served in World War One. On enlisting, William gave his birthdate as 20 August 1884, but it is not apparent whether the variation in year was deliberate or through ignorance. Was this William the one who was rewarded for General Proficiency in the Infant Department at Rangiora Borough School in 1890? And for second place in Standard II in 1891? Willie Foster was first in order of merit for Standard III at the school in 1892. At the distribution of prizes at the Rangiora High School in 1897, William Foster received a certificate for good conduct and regular attendance. The following year his prizes were for algebra and arithmetic. William Foster married Clythe Myrthe Gundreda Massey Henderson on 15 November 1916 at the Christchurch Registrar’s Office. He was a contractor residing at Timaru. There was no issue of the marriage.

William Foster was medically examined at Auckland on 20 June 1917. He stood at 5 feet 8 inches, weighed 162 pounds, and had a chest measurement of 33 -36½ inches. His complexion was fair, his eyes grey and his hair dark brown. His s and hearing were good, his colour vision heart and lungs normal, his limbs and chest well formed. He had had no illnesses, fits, notifications for consumption, treatment in a Sanatorium, or absence from work through ill-health or accident. He was free from diseases except for slight haemorrhoids. In good bodily and mental health, and having never been discharged from H.M. Services, he was classed A. He enlisted on 20 June 1917 at Auckland for the duration of the War, volunteering for the 33rd Reinforcement. A contractor and of Church of England affiliation, he named his wife as next-of kin – Mrs Clythe Myrtle Gundreda Massey, Post Office, Auckland, but later care of 11 Collingwood Street, New Brighton, Christchurch. His address at the time was Grey Street, Auckland. He recorded that his father, Joseph Foster, was deceased, while his mother, Annie Foster, had been in New Zealand for 40 years. Joseph Foster, of Lincoln, died on 12 August 1912 and was buried at the Springston Public Cemetery. William was posted to the 30th Reinforcements on 28 June 1917.

The Temuka Leader of 28 July 1917 reported thus - “Mr William Foster, well known in the Temuka district as a farm contractor, while on a visit to Auckland, enlisted, and is now in camp with the 30th Reinforcements, and intends coming south on final leave.” Private Foster forfeited pay while at Featherston – 4 days for absence without leave on 20 August 1917 and 3 days on 28 August. Private W. Foster embarked with the Auckland Infantry Regiment of the 30th Reinforcements, departing from Wellington for Liverpool, England, per the “Corinthic” on 13 October 1917. Disembarking at Liverpool on 8 December, he marched in to Sling the next day and was posted to the Auckland Infantry Regiment.

On 28 December 1917, he was admitted to the Isolation Hospital at Tidworth. He marched in to Sling again, from hospital, on 28 January 1918. He proceeded overseas to France on 20 March 1918 and marched into camp at Etaples. Soon after he marched out to the 1st Entrenching Battalion, and on 5 April he joined the 2nd Battalion, Auckland Regiment in the Field. Just over two weeks later, he was detached to 252nd Tunnelling Company, re-joining his Battalion on 7 June.

The Gazette of mid-January 1918 contained the names of First Division men who were automatically called up. One of those men was William Foster, contractor, Timaru. But William Foster, farm contractor, of Timaru, husband of Mrs Dreda Foster, 11 Collingwood Street, New Brighton, who was called up in the ballot, First Division, had enlisted some time ago and had left with the 30th Reinforcements. On 9 July 1918 in the Field, Foster was ordered to pay 4 shillings – the cost of losing by neglect 2 cup grenade dischargers.

On 1 September 1918 in France, he was wounded – gunshot wound to the left thigh. Admitted first to the Casualty Clearing Station on 2 September, he was admitted to the 2nd Canadian General Hospital two days later, then evacuated to the UK and admitted to the 2nd New Zealand General Hospital on 8 September. He was placed on the seriously ill list on 15 September. As of 28 September, he was still seriously ill though improving. He was removed from the seriously ill list on 2 October. He was again admitted to the 2nd New Zealand General Hospital at Walton-on-Thames on 19 November 1918, because of the gunshot wound to his left thigh. It was in mid-September that Mrs C. M. G. M. Foster received advice that her husband had been wounded in France. “He belongs to the Springston district, where he followed farming pursuits, and his family reside there. He left New Zealand with the Thirtieth Reinforcements.” The hospital reports in the days following listed William Foster as seriously ill. By early October, the reports were that he was still seriously ill but improving, and a few days more that he had been removed from the seriously ill list.

W. Foster embarked at London on 8 December 1918 per the “Ruahine” for the return to New Zealand. Returning Draft 205 was due in New Zealand in January 1919. William Foster gave various contact addresses for his return and after his return to New Zealand – G.P.O. Auckland, Morrinsville; 11 Collingwood Street, New Brighton, Christchurch (January 1921); C/o G.P.O., Christchurch (May 1921). All his service was in Western Europe, for which he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. He was discharged on 19 February 1919, no longer physically fit for war service on account of wounds received in action (gunshot wounds left thigh). It is very difficult to identify with any certainty William Foster on electoral rolls, both before and after the war. Clytie was at Morrinsville in late 1919, returning to Christchurch in the 1920s.

At the Christchurch Magistrate’s Court, on 7 April 1923, William Foster was charged with failing to provide adequate maintenance for his wife. ‘In the box the complainant said that she did not ask for a separation order. There were no children of the marriage. For fifteen months she had not seen her husband. He had gone away one day without saying where he was going. Reading a paper to the magistrate, the witness said that the defendant’s people had encouraged him to leave her. He had been badly affected through the war, and was now given to wandering and hiding himself and his money. She had reason to believe that he had his life savings put away. Her husband was a farm worker, but would not work for less than £5 a week. His sole object was to keep his money and evade payment. At the present time she was in delicate health. She had not been able to pay the rent of 7s a week, and had to seek charitable aid and do a little work.

Her husband had left her starving and totally unprovided for. “His people want his money instead of me,” said the complainant. . . . . . Giving evidence, the defendant Foster said that at present he was earning 25s a week gardening at Temuka. He had no money at all. Before the war he had made it a rule not to work for less than £5 a week - but not now. Owing to his injuries he could not do heavy work. When arrested he had about £l3 or £l4. He had gone away from his wife and said nothing of his whereabouts in order to get a little peace and quietness. “. . . . . No disappearing tricks this time,” said the magistrate in fixing maintenance at the rate of 20s a week. Past maintenance totalling £l0 was ordered to be paid.’

Clythe Myrthe Gundreda Massey Foster – the dearly loved wife of William Foster, and daughter of Mrs Henderson, Collingwood Street, New Brighton – died on 10 August 1926 at Christchurch. She was buried at Bromley Cemetery. William may have resided in Christchurch from the mid-1920s, a labourer. His mother died on 10 September 1940 at the residence of her only daughter at Templeton and was buried at Springston Cemetery with her husband, Joseph Foster. A plaque erected on their grave by their loving family from Matai West Coast, is inscribed “Dearly loved parents of George, Harriet, Henry, Frederick, Arthur & William.” The William named on the plaque is not the William of this profile. The sixth child of Joseph and Annie Foster was named William but took the name of Walter (Wally) in adulthood, perhaps to distinguish the two Williams. And what happened to their son John? It is known that Henry was on the Coast; Walter also died there. Two half-brothers of William also served in World War One – Henry Foster (Lincoln) and Frederick Foster (Kingsdown), who registered together for the Army Service Corps at the Christchurch Defence Office in mid-November 1915. Jack Foster, farm labourer, Weedons, whose name was drawn in the second Military Service Ballot in December 1916, may well have been another half-brother. As may have been George Foster, labourer, Weedons, who was called to the colours in the fifth ballot in March 1917. He was one of the reservists ordered to report to the group commander on 17 May for medical examination. Jack was one of the reservists ordered to report to the Defence authorities on 22 November 1917 for medical examination. “Section 13 of the Military Service Act, 1916, provides that every man who has been called up for service under that Act may be required from time to time by the Commandant, by notice in the “Gazette,” to report at any time and place, and if he fails duly to present himself at the time and place notified he may be tried and punished under the Army Act for the offence of desertion or of absenting himself without leave, as the case may be.”

William Foster died on 5 October 1935 at Ashburton, aged 54 years (death registration and burial record). His death was caused by myocarditis and influenza. He was buried in the Ashburton Soldiers’ Cemetery. It was on 14 June 1923 that the military authorities recorded that William Foster (60099) was “Identical with Fox Wm.”


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [11 March 2023]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives Collections record number 0041644) [14 March 2023]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs – William Fox) [April 2023]; Star, 19 December 1890, 23 December 1897, 21 May 1917, 16 September 1918, 3 October 1918, 11 January 1919, 7 April 1923, Lyttelton Times, 24 December 1891, 24 December 1892, 8 August 1912, 17 & 18 September 1918, 4 October 1918, 13 January 1919, Press, 15 December 1898, 19 November 1917, 16 January 1918, 17, 18 & 21 September 1918, 4 & 9 October 1918, 13 January 1919, 9 April 1923, 11 August 1926, Temuka Leader, 28 July 1917, Sun, 15 December 1916, 14 March 1917, 15 January 1918, 18 & 20 September 1918, 3 & 8 October 1918, 11 January 1919, Timaru Herald, 16 January 1918, Ashburton Guardian, 18 September 1918, October 1918, Evening Post, 18 & 20 September 1918, 3 & 8 October 1918, Dominion, 8 October 1918, NZ Times, 13 January 1919 (Papers Past) [11, 22, 23, 24 & 25 March 2023; 22 & 24 May 2023]; NZ Marriage Registration printout (Department of Internal Affairs) [27 March 2023]; NZ Birth Registration copy (Department of Internal Affairs) [11 May 2023]; Ashburton Cemetery burial record (Ashburton District Council) [March 2023]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [March 2023; 22 May 2023]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, South Canterbury Genealogy Society

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