FOSTER, Charles William
(Service number 23/424)
|First Rank||Rifleman||Last Rank||Sergeant|
|Date||4 February 1894||Place of Birth||Timaru|
|Date||31 May 1915||Age|
|Address at Enlistment||74 Tinakori Road, Wellington, New Zealand|
|Previous Military Experience||N Z Railways Engineers 19.11.1912, 1912-1913, 1913-1914|
|Marital Status||Single. Then married Lilian Rose PRICE on 14 February 1918 at Cowley St John, Oxford, England.|
|Next of Kin||William Foster (father), Victoria Street, Timaru, New Zealand|
|Medical Information||Height 5 feet 5¼ inches. Weight 144 lbs. Chest measurement 34½-37 inches. Complexion fair. Eyes blue. Hair light gold. Sight - both eyes 6/6. Hearing & colour vision both good. Limbs well formed. full & perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart & lungs normal. Teeth fair. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Long linear scar on upper surface of foot left. Scar over lower end of ulna left - wound.|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||New Zealand Rifle Brigade|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||1st Battalion, B Company|
|Date||9 October 1915|
|Transport||Maunganui or Tahiti or Aparima or Navua or Warrimoo|
|Embarked From||Wellington, New Zealand||Destination||Suez, Egypt|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With||Rifle Brigade|
|Campaigns||Egyptian; Western European|
|Service Medals||1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Victory Medal|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
|Date||24 May 1919||Reason||Termination of period of engagement.|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
1 October 1916 - reported wounded - gunshot wounds to abdomen & back; embarked on Hospital Ship “Brighton” for England where he was admitted to 3rd Southern Hospital, Oxford; progress only fair. 6 December 1916 admitted to NZ General Hospital, Brockenhurst. 29 December transferred to Base Depot at Codford. 7 April 1917 - admitted NZ Convalescence Section at Codford (Ven. Ward). 11 May 1917 discharged from Ven Section to Base Depot, Codford. 14 July 1917 admitted to 3rd NZ General Hospital, Codford - scabies. 1 August 1917 discharged to Convalescent Depot, Codford. 3 September 1917 admitted to 3rd NZ General Hospital, Codford - scabies. 11 September 1917 discharged to Convalescent Depot, Codford. 5 October 1918 - wounded in action, 2nd occasion. 11 October 1918 rejoined unit. 28 November 1918 - admitted to hospital sick, then on 29 November admitted to hospital after he was accidentally wounded in the forehead at Rouen, France, and was to be reported as “Injured”. 6 December 1918 transferred to Convalesent Depot in France. 8 December discharged to Base depot.
|Date||19 May 1965||Age||71 years|
|Place of Death||Timaru|
|Notices||Timaru Herald, 20 May 1965|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Timaru Cemetery|
|Memorial Reference||General Section, Row 140, Plot 208|
|New Zealand Memorials|
Charles William Foster was the second son of William and Ellen Matilda (Nellie Marie, née Tacon) Foster. Born on 4 February 1894 at Timaru, he was educated at Timaru Main School, then Timaru South School and Waimataitai School as the family moved to Victoria Street in 1901 and Thomas Street in 1904. In 1907 at the Waimataitai School Charles was one of the Standard VI South Canterbury pupils to gain a proficiency certificate. And in 1915 the headmaster reported that the name of C. W. Foster was one added to the Timaru South School roll of honour. The children at the school had made a big number of articles (e.g. socks, handerkerchiefs) for the Red Cross Fund.
At the time of enlisting (31 May 1915) he was residing in Wellington and working as a porter. He embarked at Wellington on 9 October 1915 destined for Egypt.
2 March 1916 he was posted to the 2nd Battalion of the Canterbury Infantry Regiment. In May following he was appointed Lance Corporal. On 30 December 1916 from Brockenhurst he was taken on strength at the NZ Command Depot. There in February 1917 he was transferred to the Operation Section Light Railways, ten days later to NZ Engineers, and seven days afterwards to the Canterbury Regiment and posted to C Company. After various movements at Sling Camp, in September 1917 he was going to Rouen. On 3 November 1917 he was to be corporal. In February 1918 he transferred from C Company to A Company. In August 1918 from hospital he proceeded overseas to Rouen. The following month he transferred to the 1st Battalion of the 3rd NZ Rifle Brigade. 11 October 1918 he rejoined his unit from the Field Ambulance and soon after was promoted to sergeant. In December 1918 he was attached to the NZ Recept Camp and detached to the United Kingdom.
All this coming-and-going was interspersed with illness and severe wounds. On 1 October 1916 reported wounded - gunshot wounds to abdomen and back, suffered at Le Transloy when he fell back into a trench and landed on a duckboard. After ten days in addressing station he embarked on the Hospital Ship “Brighton” for England where he was admitted to 3rd Southern Hospital, Oxford. His mother was advised that he was progressing favourably, though his file records that progress was only fair. Three lead balls were lodged in his stomach but an operation found only two, which were removed. Some time later, while he was walking around the hospital, his right leg locked up – the third ball was found in his right hip. On 6 December 1916 he was admitted to NZ General Hospital, Brockenhurst – not severe case; and on 29 December transferred to Base Depot at Codford. 7 April 1917 he was admitted NZ Comvalescence Section at Codford (Ven. Ward), and subsequenty, on 11 May 1917, discharged from Ven. Section to Base Depot, Codford. On 14 July 1917 he was admitted to 3rd NZ General Hospital, Codford, this time with scabies. On 1 August 1917 he was discharged to Convalescent Depot, Codford, only to be re-admitted to 3rd NZ General Hospital, Codford, on 3 September 1917, again with scabies. On 11 September 1917 discharged to Convalescent Depot, Codford. On 5 October 1918 he was wounded in action, 2nd occasion. 11 October 1918 he rejoined his unit. On 28 November 1918, just after the signing of the armistice, he went to hospital sick, then on 29 November he was admitted to hospital after he was accidentally wounded in the forehead at Rouen, France, and was to be reported as “Injured”. On 6 December 1918 he was transferred to the Convalesent Depot in France, before being discharged 0n 8 December to Base depot.
C. W. Foster saw fighting in Egypt, going into action on Christmas Day, 1915, and in France on the Western Front, spending close to three years overseas before embarkation per the “Ionic” to return home on 24 April 1919 and his subsequent discharge in May 1919. For this service he was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
Charles William Foster had registered with the Territorial Commission scheme when it began in March 1911. He served in the New Zealand Military Forces with the N Z Railways Engineers 19.11.1912, 1912-1913, 1913-1914. He passed the examination for Sergeant 1st Battalion N.Z.R.B. He later completed a full course in physical training at Fontaine and a full course of Lewis Gun instruction. On 9 November 1920 he was recommended for the Unattached List as 2nd Lieutenant. He was posted to a Cadet Company at Timaru. As he did not attend several parades and ignored memos, he took the option of being transferred to the Reserve of Officers in November 1925.
His brothers, Alfred George and Ernest Robert Foster, and his father William also served in World War I. Both brothers were at the front when Charles was wounded in October 1916. His father, of the 19th Reinforcement, was on final leave. Like his brother Albert, Charles brought home an English bride, Lilian Rose PRICE (Rose), whom he married on 14 April 1918 at Cowley St John, Oxford. The mayor welcomed home the returning soldiers, saying that they were “delighted to have the privilege of welcoming them home after their gallant work abroad.” Very hearty cheers were given before the men were taken to their homes. Charles was met by his father who had last seen him on the battlefield in France.
Charles was one of the well-known amateurs who assisted in the production of “Titus O’Toole” in aid of the Returned Soldiers’ funds in August 1919. The following January he was a member of the cast of “Amarama” which played to a packed audience in the Theatre Royal. In 1923, his name was “borrowed “ by a man charged with gathering alms by false representation.
Charles and Lilian remained in Timaru for the remainder of their lives, Charles employed as an auctioneer’s storeman from about 1940. During the depression he knew unemployment but was given some work on relief schemes. He was a member of the Legion of Frontiersmen and enjoyed the many tasks they performed. In 1954 a request reached Army Headquarters, Wellington, from London, from a Mrs L. A. Iddon seeking her goddaughter who, in 1918, married a New Zealand soldier. That soldier was Corporal C. W. Foster, whose address could not be disclosed but a sealed letter could be forwarded to him. The last communication between Headquarters and C. W. Foster had been in 1920 when his address was 98 Church Street West, Timaru. It is to be hoped that Mrs Iddon made contact with her goddaughter Lilian.
Sergeant Charles William Foster died on 19 May 1965, after some years of ill health, at the age of 71 years, and was buried in the Timaru Cemetery where a services plaque is attached to the headstone. He was survived by his wife, three daughters and a son. Members of the South Canterbury RSA paid their respects at his funeral.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph database [25 September 2014]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5537 0041529) [14 August 2015], NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5937 0359335) [24 May 2016]; School Admission Registers (South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [19 January 2015, 20 May 2016]; Timaru Cemetery headstone image (Timaru District Council) [19 January 2015]; Timaru Herald, 20 December 1907, 2 July 1915, 8 September 1915, 14 & 16 October 1916, 20 November 1916, 20 June 1917, 22 October 1918, 11, 17 & 28 April 1919, 7 August 1919, 21 January 1920, Press, 7 January 1916, 12 July 1923, Star, 15 December 1916, New Zealand Herald, 16 December 1916, Sun, 14 April 1918 (Papers Past) [12 August 2015; 10, 21 & 22 May 2016]; Timaru Herald, 20 May 1965 (Timaru District Library) [20 May 2016]; NZ Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au) [21 & 23 May 2016]; The Foster Men (details provided to South Canterbury Museum by Bern Foster, son of Charles William Foster) [15 January 2015]
- Sergeant Charles Foster's pay book. Courtesy of B Foster. (South Canterbury Museum L2014/020.06) (pdf, 2.2 MB updated 06-Nov-2014)
- The Foster Men by Bern Foster (transcribed notes) (pdf, 189.1 KB updated 07-Jan-2015)
- Great War Stories - Timaru Herald 16 July 2016 - Charles William Foster (pdf, 603.0 KB updated 29-Jul-2016)
Researched and Written by
Tony Rippin (South Canterbury Museum); Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG
Currently Assigned to
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.
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